The student-run news site of Le Moyne College.

The Dolphin

The student-run news site of Le Moyne College.

The Dolphin

The student-run news site of Le Moyne College.

The Dolphin

Long-Unused Courtyard to Finally Reopen as a Community Space
Long-Unused Courtyard to Finally Reopen as a Community Space
Annie Hubert, Guest Writer • April 13, 2024

Riddled with cracked cement and overgrown weeds, the courtyard that lies between Grewen and Reilly halls has been left untouched by the Le Moyne...

‘It Felt Like a Gift From God’: Le Moyne Students and Surrounding Community React to Eclipse
‘It Felt Like a Gift From God’: Le Moyne Students and Surrounding Community React to Eclipse
CMM-274 Class, Guest Writers • April 11, 2024

Amanda Wood started her day off in a taciturn mood at Le Moyne College, underwhelmed by all the talk of the big event. Monday was just any other...

Le Moyne College Responds to Surge in Campus Car Break-ins
Le Moyne College Responds to Surge in Campus Car Break-ins
La Quida Cummings, Guest Writer • April 10, 2024

In response to a recent series of car break-ins across campus, Derek McGork, director of Security, used a recent interview with The Dolphin to...

Spotlight: Cellist Jordan Gunns Musical Journey
Spotlight: Cellist Jordan Gunn's Musical Journey
Daniel Mondelli April 9, 2024

This Wednesday, April 10th, Le Moyne will host a performance by cellist Jordan Gunn in the Panasci Family Chapel at 7:30 pm and will be accompanied...

Flags and Acknowledgements: Le Moyne Takes Steps Toward Reconciliation with the Haudenosaunee
Flags and Acknowledgements: Le Moyne Takes Steps Toward Reconciliation with the Haudenosaunee
Isabella Allen and Carly Nicolai April 5, 2024

“We honor the Onondaga Nation, the original people on whose land Le Moyne College stands.” You may have heard this recited at school-sponsored...

Professor Brings Long-Ago School Principal and Civil Rights Pioneer to Le Moyne

photo+courtesy+of+Professor+Michael+Streissguth
photo courtesy of Professor Michael Streissguth

In an era where discussions of race and integration often remain surface-level, Michael Streissguth’s documentary The Tower Rd. Bus delves deep into the heart of these issues. The film captures the story of Dotson Burns Jr., the first African-American principal of a majority white school in Prince George’s County, Maryland, offering a unique perspective on a crucial chapter of American educational history.

Streissguth, who directed and wrote the documentary, embarked on this journey out of curiosity about the integration experiences of African American students bussed to Crestview Elementary School, an institution he had attended under Burns during the 1970s.

“I’m grateful for my integrated upbringing, but I didn’t have to make sacrifices for it. My integration was served to me, whereas African American students had to leave their comfort zone and enter a foreign environment,” he reflected. This interest led him on an eleven-year exploration that evolved from focusing solely on the African American students of Crestview to a much broader narrative encompassing teachers, and notably Burns.

Last month, Burns traveled to Le Moyne for a viewing of the film and to visit many classrooms. He and Streissguth recalled how the Le Moyne initially reached out to Burns through a handwritten letter, which later led to an in-person discussion of the project over some food in a restaurant.

Taken aback by the whole concept of the documentary, Burns reflected: “I was quite shocked he wanted to make me the primary interest of the film. I’d never had anything like that happen to me before.”

On Feb. 8, 2023, the documentary premiered to an enthusiastic audience at Le Moyne College’s Grewen Auditorium, captivating students, faculty, and guests with its detailed portrayal of the significant achievements and the numerous challenges faced by Burns as a pioneering educator.

When asked during a Le Moyne journalism class how he thought documentaries like The Tower Rd. Bus contribute to public understanding of historical events, Burns stated, “I think it plays an important part. You’d be surprised how many people didn’t even give it a thought. Even today, as I speak to some people, I get, ‘Oh, that really happened?’ People have a tendency to stay in their own group and not care about the next. I think we need to change that.”

Reflecting on his experience speaking to the students after the screening, Burns shared, “I think I got a very good reception there. I didn’t know what to expect. It was a very good experience.”

Now available on PBS, viewers everywhere can witness Burns’ journey and experience firsthand the profound impact of his tenure as a principal. Product of meticulous research and detailed interviews, this documentary stands as a testament to the forgotten and overlooked parts of American history and the continuous need for dialogue in the ongoing quest for racial equality.

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