David J. (Dave) Dennis, Sr. interrupted his collegiate experience during his freshman year in 1961 at Dillard University in New Orleans LA to work in the 60s civil rights movement in the South, particularly Mississippi and Louisiana, where he was arrested over 30 times in relation to his activities to register disenfranchised voters.Dave was on the first freedom bus ride from Montgomery AL to Jackson MS in 1961. He served in both states as field secretary for CORE (Congress on Racial Equality). He was a co-director of COFO (Council of Federat
David J. (Dave) Dennis, Sr. interrupted his collegiate experience during his freshman year in 1961 at Dillard University in New Orleans LA to work in the 60s civil rights movement in the South, particularly Mississippi and Louisiana, where he was arrested over 30 times in relation to his activities to register disenfranchised voters.
Dave was on the first freedom bus ride from Montgomery AL to Jackson MS in 1961. He served in both states as field secretary for CORE (Congress on Racial Equality). He was a co-director of COFO (Council of Federated Organizations) and of the effort to organize Freedom Summer 1964. He worked closely with Mickey Schwerner and James Chaney who were murdered along with Andrew Goodman as Freedom Summer began. Dave spoke in Mississippi at the funeral for James Chaney, delivering a eulogy that will long be remembered. He returned to Dillard University in 1965 where he graduated in 1968. Continuing his education, Dave left for law school at the University of Michigan; there he graduated in 1971. In 1972, he was an organizer of a successful challenge to the Louisiana Democratic Party structure that resulted in an African American chairman and a majority African American delegation being sent to the national convention, the first time since Reconstruction.
Dave’s practice of law gave way in 1991 to his work with Bob Moses--a fellow veteran of the civil rights movement in Mississippi--and the Algebra Project. In the 60s, the most pressing need for African American residents in Mississippi for citizenship was to be able to register to vote unobstructed. Dave became committed in the early 90s to the pressing need of quality education as necessary for first class citizenship, joining Bob in his work to increase participation of low- performing students in the gatekeeper course Algebra I by or before the eighth grade. Without early access to Algebra I, students cannot complete a heavy mathematics program in high school enabling them to go into careers in science and technology. Dave and Bob have begun to pursue “quality education as a constitutional right”. The current climate in which the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is under assault underscores that citizens must be ever vigilant in our efforts to maintain safeguards to our citizenship already hard-won and to continue the pursuit of those necessary elements for full citizenship that are yet to be secured.
Dennis received his Bachelors of Arts and Science from Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Michigan Law School.
Dave, father to 6 and grandfather to 11, currently resides in Summerville SC with his wife Nancy Ledford Dennis and pups, Pippa and Missy.
Dave is active with two organizations—the Southern Initiative Algebra Project (www.facebook.com/southerninitiativeAlgebraProject;www.siap.us) and Dave Dennis Connections (www.facebook.com/davedennisconnections; www.davedennisconnections.us).
Dave has been interviewed and recorded in numerous documents, articles, books, newspapers, magazines, and documentaries over the years. He has also received many awards and recognitions.
• The Andrew Goodman Foundation Freedom Summer Visionary Award 2014
• The UCI Ethics Center Jerome and Hazel Tobias Award 2014
Dave Dennis--His Involvement in the Civil Rights Movement in Louisiana and Mississippi from the Freedom Rides of 1961 through Freedom Summer 1964 and Beyond
Dave Dennis joined CORE [Congress of Racial Equality] in 1960. During his freshman year at Dillard niversity in New Orleans in May 1961, he traveled by train to Montgomery AL where continuation of the Freedom Rides came into question in the face of great tension and violence. The issue was debated, with the "elders" reluctantly ready to end the Freedom Rides and the "youth" willing to persevere. Dave will take his audience with him as he boards the bus headed to Jackson MS, as he drops out of school to commit full time to the movement, as he lives those tumultuous months and years that included--among many other heart-wrenching events--the murders of Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman, to the point at which he returns to Dillard University in the fall of 1965.
Dave Dennis analyzes the effects of The Civil Rights Act of 1964. Dave was born on a plantation in Omega LA in the fall of 1940. His family members were sharecroppers, growing primarily cotton. As a young child, he moved from Omega with his family to a plantation outside Shreveport. In later childhood, he required a long hospitalization for surgery and then recovery at the Shriners Hospital. By the time he left the hospital, his family had relocated to a home built by his grandfather in Shreveport where the hospital is located. His home was in an area where there was no electricity, water, or gas and where the community--led by his grandmother--had to protest to acquire those necessities of life. Dave will take his audience with him as he revisits life before the enactment of The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and life through the many years since that historic event, recounting his experiences in The Civil Rights Movement, including, but not limited to, the Freedom Rides of 1961, Mississippi Freedom Summer 1964, the election of the first African-American President of the United States of America--Barack Obama, and Dave's present work withe the Southern Initiative Algebra Project.
Brown vs. Board of Education of 1954 began the road toward equal education for minority students in America. Even with equal education still in question in many areas, it has become painfully obvious that equal education is not enough for all of America's children. Striving for equal education in America is striving to have equality in an education system that ranks poorly compared to other nations in the world market. Dave will explore with the audience the nature of quality education, the obstacles to attaining that goal and why quality education should be a constitutional right for all students.
Connecting schools and communities requires briinging together diverse stakeholders (teachers, students, administrators, community members, and representatives of community organizations). A series of conversations and exercises are aimed at building and sustaining collaborations around important school and community iossues through broad inclusion of diverse stakeholder groups in the collaborative process. Activities are designed to build trust, identify common ground, and reach consensus around a vision for the community's future and the purpose of education in building the community.
These requests can be in relation to The Civil Rights Movement, Civil Rights Today, Community Organizing, Education, Youth Leadership, or a conversation can be had in regard to your ideas.