DANVILLE — Danville Area Community College will offer a class this fall with the hope of educating the public about the Black experience and about systemic racism against African-Americans.

During the fall semester, DACC will begin offering a free, three-hour credit class titled African-American History. HIST 190 is a 15-week college course that examines the socio-economic struggles that African-Americans have experienced in trying to achieve fair and equal treatment in the United States. The historical perspective spans from the times of African slave trade through the current rise of the “Black Lives Matter” movement.

Dwight Lucas II will be teaching two sections of the class — one during the day and one in the evening — on the Danville campus and one section at the Hoopeston Learning Center. Lucas suggested offering the class for free to the public so that DACC “can do something local to stop this pandemic and deadly virus of racism.”

“I am delighted that Dr. Lucas will be teaching African-American history this fall on the main DACC campus and at the Hoopeston Higher Learning Center,” Penny McConnell, dean of liberal arts, said. “The topics covered in this course are especially relevant as we strive to understand the issues dividing our society today and search for solutions.

“We touch on many of the topics covered in the course in other courses, such as African-American Literature taught by Dr. Stefanie Davis, Race and Ethnic Relations taught by Professor Rickey Williams, and U.S History since 1865 taught by Distinguished Professor Richard Pate, but none of them delves into the topics as deeply as Dr. Lucas’ course,” McConnell said. “Dr. Lucas brings not only his educational background to the table, but also his personal experience.”

HIST 190 complies with Illinois state law that requires higher education and public schools to provide a historical and sociological course on African-American history.

By offering the class for free to both college students and dual-credit high school students, DACC expects the three sections to fill quickly with degree-seeking college students and community members who are seeking enlightenment.

Lucas said he feels privileged to teach the class. Besides possessing a PhD in humanities, Lucas said he has other important credentials.

“I am also a Black Danville native familiar with the local problem of racism,” he said. “(I’ve) felt the pain of too many lives lost to racism in the United States.”

Lucas said he also is hopeful that the success of this course will serve as a springboard to developing an African-American studies program as well as what he calls “other African-American awareness initiatives” at DACC.

“The DACC student who learns in-depth about the Black experience could have a great impact on the world’s perception about and for Blacks. Such an education fosters love for all humanity,” he said.

“I have experienced that love is far more contagious than fear and hatred. Therefore, one way to stop the spread of hatred and fear, so to speak, is to provide everyone its vaccine: an equal opportunity to a better life through education,” Lucas said.

For the fall semester, the three DACC classes are split between in-class lectures and online learning in order to maintain social distancing and to keep class sizes under 10 people.

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