Three years after the killing of Trayvon Martin, and subsequent killings of unarmed Black men sparked a national reaction movement in the form of #BlackLivesMatter, Dartmouth College is now set to offer a spring semester course dedicated to the politics of the hashtag.
Dartmouth’s “10 Weeks, 10 Professors: #BlackLivesMatter” course will consider “race, structural inequality and violence in both a historical and modern context,” according to the school’s student newspaper. The Ivy League offering is a collaborative effort involving ten academic departments with plans for more than a dozen Dartmouth professors to teach separate sections of the course.
While #BlackLivesMatter originally took hold in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s killer George Zimmerman being acquitted in July of 2013, the police shooting of unarmed Black teen Michael Brown in Ferguson last year rekindled its momentum and provided a spark for Dartmouth’s new course idea.
“We hope students will be able to understand that Ferguson is not just an event in 2014, but something that’s tethered in time to a long history and still-emerging ideas about race in the U.S. and how policing works in an age of social media and distributed surveillance,” Aimee Bahng, an English professor at the school, told The Dartmouth paper.
Separately, another professor involved in organizing the course added, “I hope that for the students it will provide an opportunity to learn and talk about things that might seem very far away from Dartmouth but affect a lot of people in the country, and to do so with a lot of different professors.”
A student at the small New Hampshire Ivy League school reacted positively and wondered about what the multidisciplinary #BlackLivesMatter course would bring to campus.
“I do wonder who will take the class–whether it’ll be kind of preaching to choir or if they’ll get different points of view,” Adria Brown, a senior, told USA Today. “But I still think–no matter what–that it’s worth having the class to really interrogate this topic.”
News of #BlackLivesMatter entering the classroom comes just days after R&B singer D’Angelo took the stage as the musical guest of “Saturday Night Live” with support for the movement. D’Angelo and his band wore shirts bearing the phrase and a chalk outline commemorated the lives of Brown and Martin onstage.