By Precious-Destiny Cooper
This project was inspired by the work of Professor Ratchford and each student who has passed through the Introduction to REMS course and pored through the archives for their final project to study the nature of race, gender, and equity at the college. Before the anti-racism report was even conceived of, Professor Ratchford, as well as REMS majors, minors, and other interested students, have been doing this anti-racism work through these projects. Now, we seek to share these important stories with the Colorado College community. If you took part in the Introduction to REMS course or have completed a project into the issue of equity in CC’s history, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for submissions or questions.
My FYE, Introduction to the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity with Dr. Ratchford in Fall 2016, was one of the most formative experiences of my Colorado College career. This class was the first time I was challenged to question the norms of our society in an academic setting. We looked at songs, cartoons, and movies we watched as kids, sports teams and their mascots, and our own college campus to examine the ways in which race and white supremacy have shaped our experiences. Our final project required us to delve into CC’s archives to apply our understandings of race and ethnicity to CC through a historiographical approach. With the help of Jessy Randall in Special Collections, my classmates and I dug into the racial histories of CC, including people parading through the campus dressed up as KKK members, an incident in 2007 in which two members of the CC hockey team appeared in blackface at a party, and the racist YikYak posts by students in 2015 that has led us to one of our latest reckonings with racism and inequality on CC’s campus.
My final project reflected on the sentiments that many marginalized students on this campus felt and continue to feel on CC’s campus. I decided to investigate how CC students reacted to the Civil Rights Movement and what steps they took to actualize an end to segregation and other forms of racial discrimination. Looking through Special Collections, I found that CC students were most vocal and active about the movement between 1963 and 1972, and during those times, were strong advocates for racial equity and inclusion campus wide, city wide, and nationally. However, data from CC’s Minority Education Committee in 1981 shows that students of color were leaving CC between 1968 and 1978 due to racial differences. The report offers historical insights into how students of color found belonging on campus and the discomforts they navigated. I argued that the existence of activism and support for the Civil Rights Movement on campus did not necessarily translate to the racial realities that existed at CC.
Today, many students of color have expressed that the image our college puts forth as a diverse, inclusive, anti-racist institution is not manifesting in the way we interact in our classrooms, campus events, parties, and living situations. We find ourselves in a cycle of marginalized students fighting for justice, voice, and belonging on CC’s campus. I’m grateful to have been in Dr. Ratchford’s class, where he challenged us to look at our college’s history and uncover things about which we wouldn’t have known otherwise. I hope the college recognizes his work and devotion to student knowledge and advocacy soon.