E&H and SWVCC Meet at The Bridge to Change


Through its educational efforts, Emory & Henry College and Southwest Virginia Community College hope to strengthen and advance social justice in Southwest Virginia and beyond. Photo courtesy of SWVCC.

As part of its Black History Month programming, Emory & Henry College’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) held an event showcasing the Bridge to Change movement, an educational effort between E&H and Southwest Virginia Community College (SWVCC) to promote efforts of social change throughout Southwest Virginia.

Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, a professor of sociology at Georgetown University, gave a lecture on The Bridge to Change, as well as its larger New Freedom Movement, that focused on contributing to the present momentum of social justice.

“Freedom is conceived as the ability to best realize the principles and ideals of a nation,” Dr. Dyson said.

“We must strive to forever ratify our beliefs so that they are not taken one by one; our commitment to them must be safe and steady. It is the constant reaffirmation of the necessity of social justice to the American identity.”

He also spoke about the systemic violence of 2020 that sparked nationwide protest as the Black Lives Matter movement strengthened, adding its importance to the discussion of freedom being integral to the American identity.

Dr. Dyson concluded his presentation by stating that people have a special responsibility to educate themselves and others, and to engage with them in complicated conversations.

College officials Dr. John W. Wells, President of E&H, and Dr. Tommy Wright, President of SWVCC, spoke of their institutions’ place alongside the Bridge to Change.

“We will be part of that time of reflection and determination to move our region to a better and more equitable place,” Dr. Wells said.

“It’s a blessing in disguise as we at SWVCC had hoped to travel down a road that we haven’t been on in a while,” Dr. Wright added, “a road that would allow us to celebrate Black History Month and many other endeavors in the path towards diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

Dr. Wright also urged students from both campuses to be actively engaged in efforts of social change.

“The easiest way to get involved is by attending events and sharing your thoughts about the events with others,” he said. “For those who would like a deeper involvement, we encourage you to contact the Office of DEI on your campus.”

For E&H students, this involvement can be achieved by contacting the Office of DEI, either by email or by visiting its new location at Damer House once renovations are complete.