It is common in recruiting students, faculty, and staff to Davidson, to highlight the college’s proximity to Charlotte. A booming southern city with a rich history, Charlotte is a wonderful outlet for many members of the Davidson College community. However, many Davidson students do not have the opportunity to learn about or explore the city that is often used as a marketing and recruitment tool.
More important, unless through a specific academic, work, or volunteer opportunity, many students do not have the opportunity to learn about Charlotte’s history as it relates to race relations, education, housing, and civil rights. “Davidson does Charlotte: An Evening at the Levine Museum” was intended to take the entire first-year class and transfer students to Charlotte for a night at the Levine. Temporary exhibit, “K(NO)w Justice K(NO)w Peace,” and permanent exhibit, “Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers,” will be open for students to explore. As described by the Levine, K(NO)w Justice K(NO)w Peace is “a community-created exhibit about police-involved shootings throughout the nation and in Charlotte.”
Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers is described as “the nation’s most comprehensive interpretation of post-Civil War Southern history featuring more than 1000 artifacts, images, video clips music, and oral histories.” Both exhibits will expose students to Charlotte’s past and present, as well as implications for the future. Both exhibits also align well with this year’s common reading selection, Color and Character: West Charlotte High and the American Struggle over Educational Equality, which discusses the history of West Charlotte High as a model for successful school integration in the mid-twentieth century, and the negative effects the end of race-based busing had on both the school and city.
This night at the museum, which was exclusively for new students and their Orientation leaders, also included food, music, games, and other recreational outlets. We also created a fun and unintimidating atmosphere for students to connect with one another, while also learning about the history and culture of the major city closest to where they’ve chosen to come for their undergraduate career. We enjoyed partnering with the Levine Museum, an institution committed to educating patrons about the South’s diverse and rich history, and hoped that this program was a catalyst to students’ interest in learning more about Charlotte, the South, and the themes that are introduced through the exhibits.