Friday, April 13, 2018

[355] ‘Passionate’ MTSU students grasp Southern Poverty Law Center perspective

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. —Some MTSUstudents dined with Lecia Brooks, director of outreach for the Southern Poverty Law Center. Other students heard her speak about hate groups, intolerance and diversity in their respective social work and English literature classes.

Brooks, who also is director of the law center’s museum, visited MTSU Wednesday and Thursday (March 21-22) as keynote speaker for Scholars Week. She discussed “The Rhetoric of Hate and the Art of Resistance” during the March 21 keynote address and to a social workclass in an accelerated version earlier in the day.

Scholars Weekshows the scholarly efforts of students and faculty during the academic year.

As outreach director, Brooks frequently gives presentations around the country to promote tolerance and diversity.

“It’s been wonderful for me to be at Middle Tennessee State University,” Brooks said of her MTSU experience, just before flying back to her home in Montgomery, Alabama. “I’ve met so many students who have encouraged me and let me know that the future is bright.”

Brooks said the social work students in lecturer Carmelita Dotson’sclass “were extremely passionate about the work that they are doing and committed (to it).”

Brooks attended Kate Pantelides’Department of English“Feminist Rhetorics & Methods” class Thursday morning. The students recently finished author Roxanne Gay’s book, “Bad Feminist.”

“They get it,” Brooks said of the feminist class. “There’s a whole group of people that I know understand the issues we’re addressing in terms of social injustice, and so I feel confident they are being prepared at this university to address some of those issues.”

Social work seniors Bailee MurrayD.T. Turnerand Latika Alexander, who had lunch with the invited guest, offered insight into Brooks’ appearance.

Alexander, a mother of two children and Nashville resident, said the conversation “opened up the light on how many hate groups are around.”

“When she was talking to me (at lunch), she was telling me to complete my goals because I have children,” Alexander added. “… MTSU has so many people from everywhere. (Diversity’s) one of the main reasons I came here.”

Another Nashville resident, Turner said the hate group discussion opened the door to “what we can do to change it.”

Murray, who is from White House, Tennessee, said Brooks included “lots of insights for students and a real-world aspect through her experience with the Southern Poverty Law Center.”

Andrew Towle, a senior psychology major from Nashville who is in English literature class, said it “was interesting to hear how she (Brooks) applied ideas we shared (with her). … She emphasized bare minimum. It was good to hear her points about how society does do the bare minimum to ensure good for people as a whole.”

English professor Laura Dubekinvited Brooks to speak during Scholars Week.

To learn more about the center, visit

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