Joseph Strasser ’53, G’58, H’20 was just 8 years old in 1940 when he and his brother escaped Nazi persecution on a Kindertransport rescue boat. Two years earlier, the Third Reich had annexed their home country, Austria. Their father, Paul,…
SU students work on Nancy Larraine Hoffmann’s Civil Rights Connection in Gulf Coast region
SU students work on Nancy Larraine Hoffmann’s Civil Rights Connection in Gulf Coast regionJune 07, 2006Jaime Winne Alvarezjlwinne@syr.edu
Syracuse University graduate students Angela Baldridge and Kiran Nagaraj and sophomore Anthony Chavar recently returned from spending 10 days of their summer break in the Gulf Coast region. The SU students went there to help Central New York students share their experiences in the region as part of Civil Rights Connection, a program created and run by former New York State Sen. Nancy Larraine Hoffmann ’70.
Each year, a group of selected high school students from Central New York travels to the South with Hoffmann and chaperones to learn first hand about the Civil Rights Movement. Hoffmann started the program in 1996, based in part on her experiences as a civil rights worker after graduating from SU.
Baldridge and Chavar, students in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, photographed this year’s trip. Nagaraj, a student in the School of Information Studies, provided technical support by managing and updating the design and layout of the website, www.civilrightsconnection.org, and posting daily updates.
According to Hoffmann, SU students have worked with her program in the past, but this was the first year they had to formally apply. Baldridge, Chavar and Nagaraj are receiving credit hours toward their degrees in return for their work on the program. Chavar, a photojournalism major, says his decision to apply stemmed from his love of documentary photography and interest in the Civil Rights Movement.
“I was excited to apply, and after being there with the students on the ground it was even more exciting. They did some great things down there, helping with Hurricane Katrina clean up for their service project and learning about civil rights,” Chavar says. “The interaction with the people of the Gulf Coast region definitely cast a great light not only on the students, but on the Central New York community.”
This year’s group of 16 high school students visited Mississippi and New Orleans, participating in programs and activities. The students were not tourists but rather scholars expected to write daily in personal journals, thoughtfully digest content of programs and activities, and perform a service project that involved Hurricane Katrina clean up. Students stayed in a tent city in Pearlington, Miss., operated by the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance program.
Their journal excerpts, daily updates and Baldridge and Chavar’s photographs were posted on the website by Nagaraj to track their progress. Now that they’ve returned home, the high school students will share their experiences with students at each of their schools and with the community at appearances throughout Central New York.
Jocelyn Walker plants honeysuckle in a slave graveyard on the Whitney Plantation in Mississippi. The new owner of the plantation, John Cummings, is turning the plantation into an interactive tribute to American slaves. (Photo AJ Chavar)
Sen. Hoffmann with Charles McLaurin and Jim Lacy at Fannie Lou Hamer’s gravesite. Hoffmann worked alongside McLaurin during the civil rights movement. Lacy is the nephew of Hamer. (Photo AJ Chavar)
R to L: SU students Anthony Chavar, Angela Baldridge, and Kiran Nagaraj work on updating the www.civilrightsconnection.org website from the dorm lounge in Tougaloo College, Tougaloo, MS. (Photo Jennifer Crisp)
SU student Angela Baldridge shoots BB King from backstage at the Medgar Evers Memorial Concert. (Photo AJ Chavar)
Andrew Russell of Jamesville-DeWitt High School surveys the damage in St. David Elementary School in the lower ninth ward of New Orleans. The students were able to wander through the school which was covered in mud and debris. (Photo Angela Baldridge)
SU student Anthony Chavar lowers his camera to get a better angle while shooting pictures in the mud-caked bathroom at St. David Elementary School in the lower ninth ward of New Orleans. (Photo Angela Baldridge)
L to R: SU students Anthony Chavar and Kiran Nagaraj outside the auditorium at a BB King Concert. (Photo Angela Baldridge)
Students and staff participants pose for a final picture at the Syracuse airport after their arrival on June 5. (Photo Angela Baldridge)