Immediately after the Civil War and emancipation, the federal government developed a plan to re-admit the southern states and guarantee the rights and safety of freedmen. The plan, called Reconstruction, led to a time of experimentation in racial equity which historian C. Vann Woodward and others have argued could have led to a very different path than segregation before it was abruptly ended. What was this period of history like, and how did it fail to live up to its promise?
Natchitoches educator and long-time civil rights advocate John Winston will speak at Northwestern State University about this history and how the lessons and events of Reconstruction relate to contemporary life in the U.S.
The talk will take place at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 12 in the Student Union Ballroom and is open to the public. Students The event is part of an ongoing speaker series on Black Civil Rights history in Natchitoches and will kick off 2023 Martin Luther King, Jr. celebrations and actions.
“Although the Republican plan was political, the lasting take away from the Reconstruction Period was the passing of the 13, 14 and 15 Amendments,” explained Winston. “The failure of the government to live up to its initial promise was the removal of the troops from the South.”
“As a student of Mr. Winston’s during my elementary school years, he stressed the importance of being proud of our heritage and our history,” said Nicole Gray, a member of the advisory council for the Black Studies minor at NSU. “He believed if we didn’t understand how far we’d come, we would be doomed to repeat history. As a seasoned professional and advocate for social justice, I couldn’t agree more with those sentiments. We can’t turn back, but we can learn from our history and continue building on the legacy left by those on whose shoulders we stand.”
Students and community members are invited to a reception afterwards in the Student Union President’s Room to ask questions of Winston in a less formal setting and to meet Dr. Jasmine Wise, who will coordinate the Black Studies minor at NSU beginning in January.
“I am elated to join the Northwestern State University family,” said Wise. “I cannot wait to learn more about the rich Civil Rights history in Natchitoches. Coordinating the Black Studies minor is a privilege I don’t take lightly. The Black Studies minor will give students a chance to learn about an important part of American culture that is often overlooked.”
The talk is part of the Natchitoches Civil Rights History series being held in conjunction with the Black Studies minor at NSU, which launched in 2021. The Black Studies minor and Indigenous Studies minor are interdisciplinary programs that allow students to learn about history, social conditions and cultures in ways that are relevant to students pursuing any career.
“Black Studies allows students to find niche information not readily available nor easily accessible,” said NSU Vice President of Inclusion and Diversity Dr. Michael Snowden. “I support fully the curriculum shared with students.”
“Also join the NSU Office of Inclusion and Diversity for other MLK day events,” added Brittany Broussard, director of the Center for Inclusion and Diversity. “On Saturday, Jan. 14, there will be a day of service where NSU students and the community can volunteer at various locations in the community. Then on Monday, Jan. 16, the annual MLK day March for Peace and Justice will take place. Line up begins 11 a.m. at the Ben Johnson parking lot.”
The talk and reception are sponsored by NSU’s School of Social Sciences and Applied Programs, which houses the Black Studies minor; the Center for Inclusion and Diversity and Office of the Vice President of Inclusion and Diversity.