AFST/HIST 301 – Blacks in the United States Since 1877.
This was the class that changed it all for me. My eyes and my heart were opened, learning about and trying to understand the full consequences of modern day oppression of African Americans in the US. This wasn’t stuff that happened “so long ago,” this was recent. This was current.
Dr. Broussard was a no-BS kind of guy. After dominating our first exam, the day of the second exam I just didn’t have it in me. Test anxiety got the better of me and I finished my essay test way too quickly. I handed it in and Dr. Broussard just looked at me and said “Throwin’ in the towel early, huh Valery?” He wasn’t angry, but probably disappointed. I still have that exam (I made a C, by the way) – it was the first time I felt like I had really disappointed a professor. Dr. Broussard spoke his mind and his small frame, glasses and gray hair made it all the more surprising when he would get especially passionate about a subject. This is what he was made to do.
One day I walked into class and took my normal seat at the front of the room (this was also the first class EVER that I willingly sat at the front of the room). He handed me a piece of paper – a copy of an old news article. All he said was “Thought you might like this.” and walked away. To this day, I’m not sure how he knew the story of Richard and Mildred Loving would affect me so much, but he was right. Not only is it a beautiful story, it’s a reminder of Dr. Broussard and how important he was to my development as a student, an ally, an activist, and a human being.
I wasn’t super close to Dr. Broussard, I didn’t go visit him during office hours or really stay in contact with him after I left but I am so incredibly thankful for his passion and his gift of teaching. Not only that, I’m thankful for his intuition – for knowing how much this beautiful love story would mean to me.
I’m begging you to take a few moments to read a little about my favorite love story. There are tons of great reads online, but I think this one is particularly good. Read and remember that this was only 47 years ago. Less than fifty years ago, interracial marriage was illegal.