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Disruptive no Divisive, Black Lives Matter INQ Course to be Offered

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Photo Courtesy of Black Lives Matter

Article Written by Leah Weinstein

A new INQ course at Roanoke College will focus on current issues surrounding the black community in America.

Beginning next week, Roanoke students, including incoming freshmen, can register for Black Lives Matter, a new INQ 110 course offered this fall. History professors Gregory Rosenthal and Jesse Bucher will teach two sections of the course.

The idea for the course arose from students who told the professors that they wanted more classes centered on the black experience and African American studies.

Rosenthal, a professor of Public History, has taught independent study courses centered around African-American perspectives and black public history. He said he sees the addition of the Black Lives Matter course as student led.

“Students have the power to tell us [the faculty] what kind of stories matter,” said Rosenthal.

The Black Lives Matter movement began in 2012 after the acquittal of George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch administrator who fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida.

The group’s mission is outlined on its Black Lives Matter website, stating “#BlackLivesMatter is a call to action and a response to the virulent anti-Black racism that permeates our society.”

The new course will be taught in two sections on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1:10-2:10 p.m., with the possibility of holding open discussions on campus that would welcome all students.

Both Bucher and Rosenthal plan to leave time for guest speakers and room for flexibility as the main goal of this course is to expand students’ minds on issues.

Rosenthal said he hopes “students have those tools and skills to talk about W.E.B. DuBois.” Also, he wants the course to “cultivate a core of freshman who are comfortable talking about this stuff, so that race is not divisive on campus.”

In addition, the course seeks to help freshmen learn how to think critically and analytically, while providing a comfortable space to speak about contemporary racial issues that plague the United States today. Rising sophomores, juniors and seniors are encouraged to audit the class as well if their schedules permit.

This class will reflect lived experiences of African-American communities.

Bucher, a professor of History who focuses on Modern Africa, South Africa, East Africa, and Postcolonial studies, emphasized the importance of students’ input.

“The curriculum is designed by faculty while constantly responding to student interest,” he said. “Students can have a real impact on how we think about curricular issues and curricular design.”