Hamline News

Revisiting the 2019 TRHT Trip

In the midst of a busy semester, nearly 50 students, faculty and staff spent Oct. 19, 2019, on a whirlwind trip to Washington, D.C., to explore the stories of marginalized groups throughout American history.

Leaders at Hamline, one of 25 nationwide Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) campus centers, sought to bring students into the conversation and work surrounding racial and cultural awareness on campus through visits to the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Participants described a sense of shock and awe as they wandered the museums, encountering history in ways they hadn’t experienced in a textbook. Rose-Marie Athiley ’21, an English major with a concentration in professional writing, was struck by the alternative narratives of African Americans presented in the museums.

“It just showed the aspects of history that Black people were involved in from the beginning — sports, theater, dance, music, journalism — that people don’t usually associate with Black history. When you think about how Black history is usually taught, it’s very somber. This was very uplifting and celebratory,” said Athiley.

The museums also provided a backdrop for students to discuss the realities of American history that aren’t so celebratory. For some participants, the trip was the first time they truly understood the full extent of how indigenous Americans were removed from their lands or how enduring multiple generations of slavery affected families, according to Dr. David Everett, trip leader and Hamline’s associate vice president of inclusive excellence.

“I think there was this ‘aha,’ eye-opening type of experience. What I heard was, ‘How come we aren’t talking about these types of things on campus?’ and accepting the challenge of incorporating what we’re learning in the classroom to cover these experiences,” said Everett.

The trip connected students who might not normally interact, giving them a common platform to discuss issues of race and culture in the classroom and throughout the community. Athiley, Everett and other trip participants returned to campus hoping to bring a wider group of people into the conversation to foster a sense of inclusiveness.
During the fall 2019 semester, Everett hosted campuswide dialogues and presentations around topics of racial healing. Dialogues have continued virtually in 2020, with events featuring student, staff and faculty perspectives.

In the future, Everett is looking to further engage students, faculty and staff by collaborating with student leadership, hosting more events and dialogues, holding healing circles and more to move the Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Center toward becoming a resource for Hamline students as well as a jumping-off point for future change.

When it comes to creating a culture of acceptance and a sense of belonging for students of all races, different groups sometimes see problem-solving as someone else’s responsibility, said Everett. But this isn’t the case. It takes an entire university to change behaviors and expectations. The center aims to bridge gaps across campus, connecting students of various majors and backgrounds with staff, faculty and the wider Hamline community, and break down what Everett calls the “siloing” of people in different roles on campus.

It’s a campus community, said Everett, that’s strategically poised to create positive change. “We were one of 10 institutions at the time selected nationally [to be a TRHT center], so that says a lot not only about how Hamline presents itself but where Hamline sits as a transformative hub in St. Paul, with opportunities to engage with local organizations, whether it be schools, nonprofits or the public sector,” said Everett. “Hamline is well-situated to be in that intricate space when it comes to fostering community.”

Note: A version of this story appeared in the summer 2020 Hamline alumni magazine. 

10/08/2020 

Written by Anne Kopas.

A 2019 story about the trip.