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Parker-Dailey Fellowship for Racial Reconciliation Returns

Michael Hershey
Graduate Assistant, College of Liberal Arts

Parker-Dailey Seminar for Racial Reconciliation carriage ride

After a two-year hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Associate Professor and History Department Chair Timothy Fritz, Ph.D., in March led the Parker-Dailey Seminar for Racial Reconciliation. The seminar involved taking seven undergraduates and one graduate student on a trip to Charleston, South Carolina, from antebellum plantations to the bustling downtown of today.

charleston-seminar-in-text.jpgCharleston is an oxymoron of picturesque beauty and ugly history which Fritz capitalized on in leading vivacious discussions about how to reconcile the ideals of America with its complicated past. Fritz designed the itinerary to expose students to unique interpretations of the same people and places encountered in exploring the history of slavery, the Civil War and the Reconstruction period.

“I picked places that might have conflicting interpretations. We took the traditional carriage tour of the town followed by a Gullah tour. Gullah is a variant of African American culture that comes out of plantations in South Carolina,” Fritz explained. He is especially intrigued when these tours overlap through the stories that are told and the prominent characters of each story.

Experiencing history through the physical space and witnessing how people interact with it can explain so much more than a textbook ever could. Fritz’s group visited the Old Slave Mart Museum where amongst the buzz of tourism downtown is a sobering memorial to all the enslaved people whose families were torn apart and a stoic reminder of the potential inhumanity of people.

The seminar offered opportunities to reflect on the foundations of racism and witness how a global tourist attraction wrestles with the dichotomy of being a city with “exquisitely preserved architecture” that was built on the suffering of thousands of people. Racial reconciliation is essential to creating a more just, peaceful, and equitable society. It requires a commitment to learning, listening and taking action. Once the trip ended, the journey began to reimagine the spaces visited and consider the story being remembered.

This trip is generously funded by the Dailey family who have been loyal friends of the Mount for many years. Dr. Michael Dailey joined the students for the excursion for several days. The goal of this trip is to educate the Mount community on racial reconciliation and how that process can be continued at Mount St. Mary’s.

Michael Hershey
Graduate Assistant, College of Liberal Arts