Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Students use community service to reflect on past

Throughout the gray, drizzly Sunday afternoon, around 100 University of Alabama students explored the past and how it shapes the present while picking up trash, raking and pulling weeds at Holt Cemetery for the Stand in the Schoolhouse Door Service Project.

“A lot of us don’t know what happened in our history and what happened in 1963, so sometimes we need to look deeper and try to uncover those things so we can bring to light problems and issues and better resolve them,” said Kate Bonner, a senior majoring in communication studies and one of the organizers of the event. “A lot of times people think that pushing down issues or bringing them to light negatively is a way to fix a problem, and I think that sometimes bringing them to light and trying to discuss them positively is actually the way for social change.”

The cemetery is a resting place to people of all walks of life, including many veterans, that has been neglected over the years, said Courtney Chapman Thomas, director of the UA Community Service Center.

“So we thought that was a good place – a common ground – for people to be in because we were serving all types of people that day. And not just serving them, but we were there to remember and unearth their stories, which is what we’re trying to do with the 50th anniversary of the Stand in the Schoolhouse Door,” Thomas said.

Bonner and Emma Mullinax, a senior majoring in public relations and communication studies, worked to put together the project for their communication studies class that focused on Stand in the Schoolhouse Door, which refers to when Gov. Wallace blocked two black students from registering for classes at UA in 1963.

“A lot of people do research projects, but I’m not a fan of research projects,” Bonner said. “I like to be active and doing things, so I chose a community service project because the final project for this class is supposed to incorporate things that you’ve learned throughout your time at UA. I’ve spent a lot of time with the community service center, and I know that using community service can influence people.”

The project involved the service at the cemetery as well as a reflection led by Director of the Crossroads Community Center Lane McLelland, followed by a pledge to make a difference.

“[Bonner and Mullinax] came and wanted to discuss how communication and service can break down perceived social barriers,” Thomas said.

Thomas also said the impact the students made in cleaning up the cemetery was significant.

The Community Service Center, the Office of Veteran Affairs and the 50th Anniversary Committee worked to make the project a reality.

“I got the opportunity to work with the 50th Anniversary Committee, and I got my first chance to write a full grant through them,” Bonner said. “They granted me a sum of money that really helped the project come off.”

Bonner said her favorite part of the experience was seeing people work together.

“I believe the event was a great success,” Mullinax said. “We got to bring together a diverse group of individuals who came together to work as one. Everyone was engaged and interactive, and it made me feel extremely blessed for all the hard work we put into it.”


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