Nine TCU students gave oral history presentations Wednesday night to prompt discussion about modern civil rights issues in Fort Worth.
Topics included labor unions, mass incarceration and LGBT rights.
“This project really showed me the value of oral history,” said Adam Powell, a senior history major. “Interviewing people and getting an individual’s words is a way of gravitating away from what I like to call ‘dead white man’s history.’”
The discussion about the benefits, economically and socially, of Fort Worth’s labor unions was led by Andrew Pennison, a senior anthropology major, Danny Nikolai, a first-year mechanical engineering major, and Bart Thomas, a senior anthropology major.
They examined the relationship between the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, District Lodge 776 (IAM 776) and the Lockheed Martin Plant in White Settlement, Texas.
“The relationship between the union and the company produces great results for both the workers and the community that just the company alone would not [produce],” Pennison said.
Powell, along with modern dance major Kate Moore and first-year psychology major Melanie Webb, tackled the issue of mass incarceration.
“Mass incarceration is not just some issue,” Powell said. “It is the issue.”
The group revealed the large increase in the prison population from around 200,000 in 1960 to just less than 2 million in 2013. They also mentioned the disproportionately high percentage of minorities among that population.
“Someone of darker skin is much more likely to get arrested, convicted or given a longer sentence than someone with lighter skin, which is a very big problem,” Moore said.
The last presentation on the LGBT community in Fort Worth was given by Lauren Conte, a first-year biochemistry major, Cooper Robinson, a senior geography major, and Dakota Willis, a first-year nursing major.
The group discussed the history of LGBT discrimination in the United States and listed out support resources for those struggling with the coming out process.
“Some of the questions that go through your mind when you’re going through the coming out process are: Will I be discriminated, will my parents love me, will I still be loved?” Robinson said.
Each of the three groups created websites compiling all of their research findings and interview clips. Links to the sites are listed below.