|Inspiring Citizens (11/25/2013)
Verdis Robinson, an MCC history instructor, often tells his students that being a productive member of society doesn’t mean just making a living but acting as a catalyst for change.
He drove home this point one semester for students in his Contemporary African-American Experience classes, which at the time were studying different perspectives of the 2008 presidential race. His remarks made a profound impact on his students, many of whom came from underprivileged backgrounds and felt hopeless and powerless in shaping their community and country.
After engaging in discussions on black America, students took a greater interest in the political process and became inspired to participate in the elections. Out of his 200 students, a majority of them -- some in their 50s and 60s -- became registered voters in fall 2008. On Election Day, they voted for the first time.
“Through my example, I want my students to feel they are American citizens and that they are a part of this democracy,” said Robinson. “I want them to take ownership of democracy by learning about it, acting on it and becoming agents of social change.”
His classroom experience inspired him to do more in promoting civic education and participation. Since 2011, Robinson has served as coordinator of The Democracy Commitment at MCC, a national initiative that provides a platform for U.S. community colleges to engage students in civic learning and democratic practice.
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