The academic symposium started off with a few words from President Lovell. The president asked all former and current students and staff EOP members to stand up. Just like that, the crowd went wild and started applauding.
T Michael Bolger, J.D. started the panel discussion. Bolger was the Medical College of Wisconsin’s president and chief executive officer from 1990 to 2010. He became aware of the injustice towards African Americans around the 1960s and decided to act against it. “Race is a racial construct by European powers to control others,” he said.
Bolger, along with many others, stood against racial discriminations, even after being ridiculed by others and called names. “It is important to stand up for what’s right,” he said.
Maureen Hoyler followed up Bolger explaining the process of how EOP came to be. “The Students United for Racial Equality started out in that dime to demand the University to take racial equality,” she said.
Hoyler, who assumed the position of president of the Council for Opportunity in Education in 2013, stated that professors would resign if no change was made. It was obvious that Hoyler along with many others was looking for racial equality, and weren’t going to stop until that was reached.
Dr. Theresa Perry, professor in the departments of African Studies and Education at Simmons College, explained how the group of students and professors from the Students United for Racial Equality increased drastically when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.
Dr. Arnold Mitchem and Dr. Hal D. Payne also participated in the panel. Mitchell, the president emeritus of the Council for Opportunity in Education and member of the Marquette University Board of Trustees, expressed his desire to see us, the future of the university, keep fighting for others and never standing down. “You’re going to be the leaders, the doctors, the lawyers and the scholars of the future,” he said.
Dr. Payne is the vice president for student affairs at Buffalo State in New York. He expressed how he, along with many others envisioned a program that could adapt to the community situations and create leaders out of it. He also congratulated the university for having an EOP conference on the presidential inauguration activity on the first few months of Lovell’s presidency.
The five panelists all have something in common. They believed in making a change and creating equality amongst all. They decided to push all boundaries and fight for what they believed in. I’ve always believed myself to be a fighter. Using these 5 brilliant individuals as examples, I believe that I can be the fighter and leader I so desperately want to be. That way, just like they did on their time and how the legacy of the EOP started and has continued today, I will one day make a change as big as theirs.
As we continue to get involved with the EOP, I continue to grow more curious. This activity helped me feel more involved in the program, and understand the history of how it all started.
As the activity was ending, Bolger said some words that really got me thinking and pushed me to be the change that this world needs. “Dictators don’t fear tanks and bombs; dictators fear ideas,” he said. “For God’s sake, get involved.”