Dr. John Theis’ history explains his commitment to community enlightenment
Director of Lone Star College System Center for Civic Engagement, Dr. John Theis, told a touching history of his path within the racial justice, social justice and economic justice movement. I have known this professor for some time. This is the first time I had heard these two particular stories. I found them touching and experiential. Most importantly the stories illustrate why the man is so effective in getting structures built within and without the system to empower the populace at large.
Dr. Theis opened the panel titled “Making History by Acting in the Moment: Race in America” by telling a couple of stories that began right after he got his PhD. His wife and two daughters moved to Kansas City, MO to teach in a small very liberal catholic school. He said the school had a bunch of liberal professors who taught about diversity.
Dr. Theis decided to move into an inner city neighborhood in an old house. His liberal professor friends all asked him why he was doing that. “These good liberal people that considered diversity important would never ever consider putting themselves in that position,” said John Theis.
Theis went on to tell the story about inviting a professor over to his home. The professor was terrified to simply walk three blocks in the community to go buy some cigarettes. Why? Because the neighborhood was not full of wealthy white people.
Dr. Theis’ second story is even more poignant, specifically because it came from a young student. He had moved to another neighborhood. He was teaching in a predominantly black school. When a student asked him where he lived, he told the student that he lived in Prairie Village. The student responded in a manner that shocked Theis. When he asked the student why was it that ‘they’ do not go to his new neighborhood, the student said because anytime they go there they were pulled over by the cops. “I never really had thought about that,” said Dr. Theis. “But I think in America we have some real issues about race that as a white man I do not see, the side and the things that African Americans go through. We do not sufficiently understand how our society is segregated and how our society treat people differently by color..
Dr. Theis said that ever since his student told him that he realized that we need to talk about these issues. We need to do something about these issues.
Dr. John Theis has kept that promise to himself. He has been a stalwart not only in the racial justice and social justice movement, but in the economic justice movement as well. A few months ago his Center for Civic Engagement presented the Economic Inequality and Civic Engagement Conference. This is what we should expect from our forward leaning educators.
The panel was contentious, educational, and informational.
- Keshia Thomas on saving KKK member and her activism
- Steven Orozco on being a Black Lives Matter Ally and his activism
- Kwame Rose on confronting Geraldo Rivera and his activism
- Question and Answer Session