Human Rights

Toluwani Roberts '22 shared her story as part of the “When a Black Woman Speaks, You Listen" project. Photos courtesy of Robert Cain '21.

Even amid a pandemic—with physical distancing and virtual learning the norm—Robert Cain ’21 knew he could count on one creative and social outlet. Shooting photos with his camera.

And the truth is, he had to. As a media studies major, Cain still needed to get out and capture life as it was (or wasn’t) happening for classes and his senior thesis.

Photo by quietbits /

Over the past few years, historical monuments in public spaces have been flash points for anti-colonial and Black Lives Matter protestors. One side has argued for their removal while the other side for their preservation.

A discussion at the Ath contextualized these efforts, providing historical perspectives from three experts whose work focuses on understanding the meaning and intentions of monuments.

Assistant Professor Jennifer Feitosa

In June, CMC announced its Presidential Initiative on Anti-Racism and the Black Experience in America. As part of this ongoing effort, individual CMC faculty, departments, and institutes are addressing race and racism through various curricular and co-curricular actions. We asked faculty members to share their work in these areas, and what they will continue to do to promote sustained and substantive engagement with issues of racial inequality.

Professors David Bjerk and Eric Helland

Are wrongful convictions more frequent among Black Americans? In their article, “What Can DNA Exonerations Tell Us About Racial Differences in Wrongful Conviction Rates?” CMC economics professors David Bjerk and Eric Helland focused on “one set of convicts for which we know innocence with certainty—those who were convicted for a crime but later exonerated via DNA evidence of innocence.”

It premiered nearly 2,500 years ago, but even today the play Antigone can still pack a relevant punch.

Antigone is a classic,” said M. Shane Bjornlie, professor of Roman and Late Antique History at CMC. “It deals with family betrayal, transgressive behavior, and all sorts of really difficult topics.”

Quincy Brown '19 at an ImpactCMC event

Quincy Brown ’19 came of age on Alberta Street—a historically Black Main Street in his hometown of Portland, Ore. He biked and took the bus there as a kid. Proudly visited his grandmother’s house nearby. Showcased his art at the Alberta Street Fair. It “was and still is the cultural center of my northeast Portland neighborhood,” Brown said.

Sahib Bhasin ’21 with Kindle

Inspired by conversations she was having in May about police brutality and killings of Black Americans, Sobechukwu (Sobé) Uwajeh ’22 knew she had to take action. On the lookout for literature to educate others about racism, she posted to her Instagram account a “starter kit” of recommended books about how to be an anti-racist.

Hailey Wilson ’22 saw Uwajeh’s post and immediately and enthusiastically texted her with another idea - they should start an anti-racist book club at CMC.

Ibram X. Kendi discusses how to be an anti-racist

Ibram X. Kendi would like to banish the term “not racist” from our vocabulary. The historian, scholar, and writer said it is important for people challenging inequities to actively become antiracist and not merely “not racist.” The reason, he said, is that progenitors of racist ideas have always self-identified their ideas as “not racist.”

Anoush Baghdassarian and Ani Schug with a Syrian refugee

A “passion for Armenian causes” prompted Anoush Baghdassarian ’17 and Ani Schug (PO ’17) to found the 5Cs Armenian Student Association.  

That same passion took them to Armenia last summer for a project to collect stories from Syrian Armenians who fled Aleppo to escape the Syrian war. They wanted to humanize the refugees as individuals, rather than anonymous subjects of news reports. “Overall, we wanted to empower people through saving and sharing their stories,” Baghdassarian said.

Anoush Baghdassarian

For Anoush Baghdassarian ’17, this summer is a double-header (and we’re not talking baseball). Among the select group of fellowship winners from the College this year, Baghdassarian won — and accepted — two awards: a Humanity in Action Fellowship (HiA) and a Davis Projects for Peace fellowship.