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

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s visit at Le Moyne
Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s visit at Le Moyne
Kamilla Shahzad, Staff Writer • May 17, 2024

On April 18 th , 2024, Le Moyne College had the privilege of hosting a special guest, acclaimed author Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, who delighted...

Column: The Long Journey at Le Moyne
Column: The Long Journey at Le Moyne
Mary Anne Winfield, Guest Writer • May 17, 2024

I never expected to be a “senior” senior at Le Moyne College. My first introduction to the college was in the 1970’s. I was a two-year...

Theta Chi house at Colgate University
Column: Why I want to see Greek life at Le Moyne College.
Payton Hirsch, Guest Writer • May 17, 2024

At Le Moyne College there is no presence of “Greek Life,” which has left many wondering why. According to Joseph Della Posta, the school’s...

Photo courtesy of Le Moyne; Images of Officer Jensen, Onondaga County Sheriff’s Lt. Hoosock posted at memorial service.
‘A True Leader and Phenomenal Teammate’: Remembering Fallen Officer, a Le Moyne Graduate
Stephen Moore and Aidan Clark May 8, 2024

The Rev. William Dolan wants you to know what the community lost when Michael Jensen, a Syracuse police officer and a Le Moyne graduate, was...

Dr. James Carroll: The Donation that Rewrote Le Moyne  College’s History
Dr. James Carroll: The Donation that Rewrote Le Moyne College’s History
Legende McGrath, Guest Writer • May 7, 2024

In late March, Le Moyne College, specifically the College of Arts and Sciences, received a $12 million donation provided by Le Moyne alumnus...

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

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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