Two months after a brawl at Riverfront Park in Montgomery, Alabama went viral, two Black professors came together and created a curriculum to spark meaningful conversations around the August 5th incident.
Dr. Linda J.M. Holloway, a professor at Alabama State University located in Montgomery, Alabama, and her colleague Dr. April T. Berry said that with this curriculum, they aim to provide a platform for students, mental health professionals, and others to engage in healthy, meaningful, and engaging conversations about the riverboat incident.
On August 5, senior deckhand Damien Pickett was attacked by white boaters who refused to relocate their pontoon so the Harriott II, a city-owned riverboat, could dock. The attackers were charged with assaulting Pickett and the staffer who transported him. The group that attacked Pickett, who is Black, reportedly used the N-word as they beat him.
The event sparked many reactions, emotions, thoughts, and reflections across social media and the country. Dr. Holloway said she recognized the need for a safe space for her students to discuss the incident in her classes, especially with the semester starting shortly after the event.
Dr. Berry, who, in addition to being an adjunct professor, is the Clinical Director of Vets Recover, said she wanted to ensure that mental health professionals can provide a safe space for clients who may have strong reactions and emotions to what happened to discuss in their therapy sessions.
“So glad to have been given the opportunity to develop a curriculum to create healthy discussions around such sensitive topics!” she recently posted on LinkedIn.
The study guide features 50 questions, a conversation prompt, and recommended readings by Black authors, which included bell hooks, Claude McKay, and Trevor Noah. It can be adapted to a wide range of settings due to its flexibility in allowing users to choose questions based on the context, whether academics or mental health.