Turning Tragedy Into Opportunity-The Creation of Fordham's Bronx Course and the #BronxHistoryCollaborative
Last Fall there were a series of racial incidents at Fordham that traumatized the University community. The administration responded with powerful statements that condemned what took place and reaffirmed Fordham's commitment to becoming a diverse and caring community, but it was the student response that I found most gratifying. Students in my classes, including captains of 3 important teams- Garrick Lloyd Mayweather, Mikela Ryan and Danielle Rowe-, came up with a "Zero Tolerance for Racism campaign, complete with armbands and stickers which gave students, faculty and staff a way of affirming their support and solidarity with those targeted by the attacks with visual symbols. At the same time, another group of students decided the University needed to address the underlying layer of contempt for the Bronx and its people that helped fuel the incidents and asked me to create a new course on Bronx History and Culture. Within two weeks, with their help, I was able to create a syllabus for the course which was approved by the appropriate committees and introduced in the Fall of 2016
It has now been nearly three months since the Bronx Course opened its doors and its impact has been profound.With the help of educators involved in NYC's test exempt high schools- the Consortium Schools- we were able to have sections of my Bronx course taught simultaneously in two Bronx High Schools with provisions made to bring students in those course onto campus to meet with my students, and students in my class to come to the high schools to be interviewed by their students or make presentations on their research. . At the same time, the Bronx course alowed me to reconnect with two of the Bronx's and the nation's greatest principals- Paul Cannon and Luis E Torres- and give Fordham students the opportuity to see how they had turned their schools into centers of energy and creativity in some of the Bronx's poorest communities.
And this boundary shattering experience will only continue to With A Brooklyn Accent: Turning Tragedy Into Opportunity-The Creation of Fordham's Bronx Course and the #BronxHistoryCollaborative: