Students and community members attended the first Millennials of Color Assembly (MOCA), a dialogue on race, prejudice and identity on Oct. 7 at the Geneva Public Library. MOCA is the culmination of scholarship by Brandi Taylor ’19 and Danzlear Johnson ’19, who examined race relations in Geneva this summer as fellows with the Sills Foundation.
“A key reason our project is dialogue-centered is because our research identified a history of successful community-wide race dialogues conducted by local organizations such as Tools for Social Change to address barriers in Geneva,” says Taylor, who is majoring in English and Africana studies. “We were inspired to do something similar to encourage community members to speak out and give voice to their concerns. Both Danzlear and I felt creating a space for people to share their experiences, reaffirm their existence and acknowledge the commonalities we share with one another would make a big impact.”
Sponsored by the Sills Foundation and Sankofa: the Black Student Union, MOCA was designed for individuals between the ages of 13 and 30 and was also inspired by the work of the Posse Foundation, of which Taylor is a member as a Posse Scholar.
“We wanted to use the resources we have been provided as college students to connect with the rest of our community in Geneva– particularly our fellow youth in Geneva,” says Johnson, who is majoring international relations and English. “This initiative was an effort to build a bridge between HWS and the local community, Sankofa and other students city-wide, and between young adults within the community who may be organized daily within separate institutions.”
Johnson and Taylor’s fellowship research, under the direction of Associate Professor of Education Khuram Hussain, addressed diversity and equity in education. “While their initiative draws on the curriculum and methods of previous community dialogues, Brandi and Danzlear offer a new take on these dialogues by focusing on youth and HWS students,” says Hussain. “Their initiative aims to build bridges across racial barriers by developing and facilitating a series of community-wide dialogues between Geneva youth and Hobart and William Smith students.”
The Sills Family Endowed Fellowship was created to provide support for experiential learning and the completion of a special academic project to HWS students working in partnership with the Colleges’ faculty.