In the fall of 2023, educational studies and anthropology double major Tony Baldovinos ‘25 traveled to Montgomery and Selma, Alabama, for three days of learning about the history of U.S. mass incarceration and racial reconciliation, volunteer work, and community-building activities. Alongside his peers, Baldovinos also learned techniques to build racial equity.

The fall break social justice trip was sponsored by the Center for Belonging and Inclusion and the Alford Community Leadership and Involvement Center.

During my search for internships, I stumbled upon opportunities centered around social justice and activism. Initially, I was uncertain about embarking on this path. However, a few scrolls on our school programming site would lead me to a transformative experience — a social justice and racial reconciliation trip to Montgomery and Selma, Alabama, historic sites that are deeply intertwined with the American Civil Rights movement.

On our trip, we not only visited and learned from historic civil rights movement sites, we also interacted with people  working in social justice and racial reconciliation.

The most impactful part of the trip was when we did service for a cooperative farm that directly benefited the community. There, we met a woman who guided us to a talk with a professor from Alabama State University, a historically Black university. This event was not on the schedule, but we spent an hour talking — one of the most impactful hours of our three-day trip.

Robert O. White, a pastor, legal analyst, and professor of African-American humanities, was passionate in his work and urged us to be so as well. He presented to us the importance of being active in social justice as college students and the importance of change, especially with the current political climate surrounding education.

As mentioned before, I was very uncertain about social justice and activism, as it felt like a buzzword and not realistic. Through the anecdotes of his and his students’ experiences,  White helped me understand the importance of it and the amount of power I hold.

This experience has instilled in me a profound desire to work in a field focused on social
justice and reconciliation, particularly within the realm of education.

I now comprehend the essential role activism plays in effecting change and the significance of community engagement in championing what one believes is right. What I hope to bring from this experience is a direct translation on my campus.

Because of this, I decided to participate in the GLCSA Students of Color Leadership Conference at Depauw University representing Denison University. I feel that I understand my campus well but would like to expand my knowledge and intellect by observing and hearing what students from 12 different campuses are doing and are running into. With this, I hope to bring change and perspective onto Denison’s campus by being able to instill in others the importance of doing what you believe in.

December 14, 2023