Passing the Torch
Since the day his godmother lit a fire under him as a kid, Dr. Robert Morris has borne the responsibility of passing the torch in the civil rights movement to the next generation of social activists.
“We would talk about civil rights in class, and my students would ask, ‘Why don’t we have a NAACP chapter,’ and I didn’t know,” said Morris, a professor of American History at Broward College. “And, then they asked if we could start a chapter, and I said, ‘Absolutely.’”
Dr. Morris expects the new Broward College National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) chapter to gain official recognition from the organization’s national headquarters, Tuesday, October 15. When it does, the 25 members at Broward College will form the first student chapter in the county and will join the University of Miami, Florida International University, and Florida Memorial as branches with higher education addresses in South Florida.
“It’s about building leadership,” said Morris. “Our goal is to look at issues that are not only affecting African Americans around the country but other minorities as well. It’s a matter of getting students involved and making them aware.”
A lifelong member of the NAACP, Morris had a head start setting the wheels in motion to establish a student chapter at Broward College. His godmother is Dr. Shirley Johnson, a former vice president of the NAACP Miami-Dade branch who, as a teen in the ‘60s, was jailed several times for demonstrating in support of desegregation.
Film: Brown v. Board of Education
Morris said the first formal chapter meeting is scheduled for November, but that will not stop him and his students from raising awareness surrounding equal rights concerns. The chapter will host a presentation of the film “Brown v. Board of Education,” Monday, October 28, in the Student Activity Center on Judson A. Samuels South Campus. A discussion will follow the film, which marks the 65th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision that ruled racial segregation in public schools to be unconstitutional.
“Maybe some students have heard about the court decision, but probably not in-depth,” said Morris. “We want to share information and begin to open up conversations. We can’t just expect students to know everything. It’s our responsibility to educate them.”
Morris is dedicated to doing his part to inform and engage. To start the academic year, he and a group of Broward College students attended the 2019 Freedom Fund Soiree, a black-tie affair at the Dodge Center in Pembroke Pines to celebrate the NAACP’s 31 years of service to Miami-Dade County.
“I’m a community person,” said Morris, who is active in Broward UP™ and the Minority Male Initiative. “I’m always interested in giving back. If not me, then who?”
Broward College students committed to equal justice across all groups and addressing issues facing the nation can get involved with the campus chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. For more information about the NAACP, email firstname.lastname@example.org