St. Michael’s College David Dennis Sr., as a young student, had already been one of the first brave “Freedom Riders” in the early 1960s in the American civil rights movement when a watershed moment in Alabama brought him to participate in this movement. “We ended up in Montgomery under martial law,” he said of his first group of young bus protesters through the then-segregated South, who were meeting with top National Movement leaders at the time. such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Andrew Young and John Lewis following jarring violence against their protests.
“They were all trying to stop the rides” out of concern for the safety of the young riders. Still, many in the group “kept saying we had to keep going,” though Dennis Sr. wasn’t so sure—until he heard someone in the room say, “He there is not enough room in this room for God and fear.
“Boom! It was right between the eyes for me, and everyone was like, ‘I’m going’.” Dennis Sr. recalled. “I didn’t stop after that.”
It was just a piece of the rich living history that an audience of nearly 100 people at Saint Michael’s College McCarthy Arts Center including President Lorraine Sterrittstudents, Edmundites and faculty, experienced at the 2022 Sutherland Annual Conference, voiced this year in a different format from the traditional solo lectures of the past.
Dennis father and his award-winning journalist son, David Dennis Jr., collaborators on a forthcoming book called The Movement Made Us, communicate strong and urgent messages through their writings and appearances to fellow Americans about race, rights and democracy in such unstable and crucial modern times.
At the bottom left, poet Rajnii Eddins proposes a “poem for peace” before the discussion; in the center, President Sterritt and her husband, Bert Lain, listen; bottom right, inaugural Companion of Edmundite Jolivette Anderson-Douoning was a wise, animated and warm host of the Thursday debates that she organized.