Serve-Learn-Sustain Supports DC Civil Rights Tour

February 20, 2017



Dr. Christian Braneon serves as Assistant Director, Service Learning and Partnerships for the Center for Serve-Learn-Sustain.  He is a water resources engineer specializing in water resources engineering, data science, climate change assessments, and community engagement.

Over the MLK weekend, SLS sponsored a few students and faculty to attend Diversity Program’s Civil Rights Tour in Washington, D.C as part of our year-long Structural Racism series. Participants visited the National Museum of African American History & Culture, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and other historic sites such as the National Museum of the American Indian and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The new National Museum of African American History & Culture completely blew me away with its breadth and thoughtful curation. It explores what it means to be an American and even shows how American values like resiliency, optimism, and spirituality are reflected in African American history and culture. I was expecting the museum to just highlight institutional racism, historic events, and famous figures but I was thoroughly impressed that it attempts to capture how people of African descent have shaped (and continue to shape) American art, culture, technology, and policy. Please see below to find out how the trip impacted Jennifer Glass and Yelena Rivera.

-  Christian

Story about the experience of visiting the NMAAHC

Jennifer Glass, PhD, Assistant Professor, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences & Biology (courtesy)

Yelena M. Rivera-Vale

TV/Web Operations Coordinator & GT1000 Instructor

Factor In Tech Students for an Amazing D.C. Trip

Many times Georgia Tech students have been referred to as amazing. Our Daily Digest continuously includes statistics about the academic prowess of those who each year are accepted and of those who are part of our fall and spring commencement ceremonies. We know that many also work, which astonishes me since they are able to effectively manage both a job and a heavy course load.

I’ve also had the privilege of being their GT1000 instructor, which makes me proud to say that each group has proven yet again that our Yellow Jackets have, from day one, what it takes to be successful in all aspects of life. But, I have to say that for me what makes our Tech students the embodiment of “amazingness” are their values and their commitment to being part of an equal, diverse and just society, which I have witnessed.  I spent a weekend with a group of bright, avid history learners (none are history majors), who are socially conscious, very mature, gracious and yes, pretty awesome students.

I was one of the fortunate staff members to be part of the January 2017 Civil Rights Tour of Washington D.C.  And while I am the envy of many for being able to visit the brand new, spectacular, and monumental National Museum of African American History of Culture, and to also have the chance to visit the sobering United States Holocaust Memorial Museum during my DC visit, I have to say that I will treasure most to have been able to share this experience with our students.

This group of students was the one that encouraged everyone to reflect on what we just saw, and to see through fresh eyes information that we’ve seen, read and studied many times before. Each one questioned, analyzed and searched for solutions with the hope and energy needed to work towards the society that all of us wish to live in.  Shirley Manchester, Academic Advisor of the School of Materials Science & Engineering, and fellow D.C. traveler, and I were both intrigued by Martin Niemöller’s quote which was displayed at the end of one of the main exhibits of the Holocaust Memorial Museum.

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me— and there was no one left to speak for me.”


After spending these days traveling by bus and walking through Washington D.C. with seventy amazing Georgia Tech students I am not worried that someone will not speak when needed. Because I firmly believe the fact that I, as well as they will speak up for each other.