Moral Courage Project makes the voices of Ferguson heard

By: Sean Newhouse – Staff Writer

Anyone paying attention to the news these past few weeks would likely agree that the United States is currently a divided nation, not in the literal sense, but in the sense that people can’t seem to agree with, or trust, anyone. Stories of tension, anger, and hate are on the rise while stories of unity, peace, and love seem to be disappearing from newsstands, television, and social media.

Anyone paying attention to the news these past few years would likely agree that America’s present diagnosis has been building up for quite some time now. Feuds reached a climactic moment in late summer 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri when white police officer, Darren Wilson, shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black eighteen year old.

Though over two years ago, in some ways, it seems like this story never ended. The same report is heard again and again on the news, just with a different setting, different characters, and a slightly different plot.

Everyone had an opinion on what happened in Ferguson, Missouri in the days following the shooting of Michael Brown, but the Moral Courage exhibit currently on display on the first floor of Roesch Library aims to tell what happened in the days, months, and years following the shooting from the perspective of those who actually lived it.

The multimedia exhibit titled “Ferguson Voices: Disrupting the Frame” had its opening reception on Jan. 20, as part of the University’s MLK Week Celebration. It was put on by the Moral Courage Project, a joint effort between the University of Dayton’s Human Rights Center and PROOF: Media for Social Justice.

It was created from stories gathered by Dayton students and faculty who traveled to and interviewed members of the Ferguson community in May 2016 as part of the Moral Courage Project in Ferguson.

“Ferguson Voices” tells a different version of Ferguson than the one typically seen in the news. For instance, it highlights Tony Rice, a community organizer who helped to clean-up trash left by protests. It also features Officer Greg Casem, a long-serving police officer in the Ferguson Police Department.

Furthermore, the exhibit shows how regular people took action in the days after the shooting, such as Scott Bomer, the director of the Ferguson Public Library, who opened the library up as a school when the school district shut down.

Steven Dougherty, a student participant of Moral Courage, said, “When I signed up for this project I had no connection to, and little knowledge of, the issue surrounding Ferguson. But now I am irreversibly tangled up in these issues…It is because I am now tangled up in the stories of the people affected by the issues. My hope is that the exhibit will have a similar effect on others.”

Abbie Miller, a first year Dayton student, said, of the exhibit, “It was really nice to see the stories of love and unity that fostered in the face of a horrific event and it was inspirational how so many people kept hope for justice to overcome the bad in the world.”

President Spina said on UD’s Snapchat that, “(I am) Incredibly moved by what our students and our faculty members have been able to do.”

“Ferguson Voices” will remain as an exhibit on the first floor of Roesch Library until Feb. 10. Roesch Library features rotating exhibits on their first floor on a seasonal basis.

Photo courtesy of Christian Luigi Cubacub – Multimedia Editor