A group of 14 students and professors took part in a social justice tour from the Northwestern campus on Thursday, exploring the University’s untold stories and delving into NU’s activist past.
The tour had six stops over a one-mile distance, combining content from three pre-existing GPS-guided audio tours: the Black Student Experience Tour, the Indigenous Tour, and the Feminist Tour.
Charla Wilson, Black Experience Librarian and Archivist, Jasmine Gurneau, Director of Native American and Indigenous Affairs, and Sarah Brown, Director of the Women’s Center, the respective creators of the self-guided tours, together led the social justice tour.
“The purpose of bringing these three tours together is to give (the NU community) some understanding of the contributions that Black students, Native American students, Indigenous students and women have made to the University, and to provide a space where people can understand (the challenges and barriers that) are also part of the NU story,” Wilson said.
After gathering everyone at The Arch, the guides led participants to the site of the bursar’s office takeover, where Wilson described the events of the 1968 civil rights demonstration.
The guides also taught the group the stories related to the activists behind the Center for Native American and Indigenous Research, the Deering Library, the Women’s Center and the Black House.
All topics were also covered throughout the tour, with several guides intervening at each stop. Brown said the format was intentional, aimed at highlighting the intersections between Black, Indigenous and feminist histories on campus.
“Our tours have always overlapped,” Brown said. “It’s not like feminist causes are separate from the Black experience on campus or the Indigenous experience. I really like this opportunity to combine the three to demonstrate it and hear our voices, one after the other, one next to the other.
Brown, Wilson and Gurneau first organized the tour in September after faculty director Joan Johnson asked them to combine their visits for a presentation of the faculty. When the tour proved to be a success, they decided to organize another one, this time opening it up to the whole community.
Associate Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research Megan Wood attended Thursday’s tour. She said the visit provided good insight into past and present student experiences, which she hopes will help her office better serve students.
“This tour feels really approachable as a thing to do and a way to learn,” Wood said. “It’s a great way to see our campus, consider its history, and take time to reflect, which isn’t something people do all the time but is really important.”
Although the social justice tour was a one-time event, Brown, Wilson and Gurneau said they hoped it would inspire attendees to learn more about NU’s history and that those who couldn’t attend will enjoy the three self-guided tours.
At the end of the event, Gurneau left attendees with one last question.
“In imagining seven future generations, how do we hope Northwestern’s story will be told, and what role will each of you play?” Gurneau asked.
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E-mail: [email protected]
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