Civil Rights Leader Dave Dennis Sr. to Speak at Polk Lectureship Series

Dave Dennise Sr.

David J. (Dave) Dennis, Sr., a leader in the civil rights movement in the South, will be the featured speaker at Doane University’s Robert L. Polk Lectureship Series. The event will be held on Monday, March 27 at 7 p.m. at Doane’s Chab Weyers Art & Education building in Crete. The title of his presentation will be The Trojan Horse of the Civil Rights Movement – The 1964 Civil Rights Act.


Dennis began his work with civil rights in 1961 working in Mississippi and Louisiana, where he was arrested over 30 times in relation to his activities to register disenfranchised voters. He took part in the first freedom bus ride from Montgomery, Alabama to Jackson, Mississippi and served both states as field secretary for CORE (Congress on Racial Equality) and was co-director of COFO (Council of Federated Organizations).


Dennis graduated from Dillard University in New Orleans in 1968 and continued his education with a law degree from the University of Michigan in 1971. In 1972, he was an organizer of a successful challenge to the Louisiana Democratic Party structure that resulted in an African American delegation being sent to the national convention, the first time since Reconstruction.


In 1991, Dave began his work with Bob Moses – a fellow veteran of the civil rights movement in Mississippi – on a project to increase participation of low-performing students in the gatekeeper course of Algebra I by or before the eighth grade and continue to fight for quality education as a constitutional right.


Dave has six children and 11 grandchildren and currently resides in Summerville, S.C. with his wife Nancy Ledford Dennis. He is currently active in the Southern Initiative Algebra Project and Dave Dennis Connections and has received many awards and recognitions over the years.


The Robert L. Polk Lectureship on Race and Social Justice, established by the Rev. Robert L. Polk, the first African American to earn a degree from Doane College, supports public and candid conversations about current social issues and race across the country and world. Inspired by a career of building bridges and challenging the barriers between races and cultures, these conversations bring people of diverse backgrounds together to inspire social change. By continuing the dialogue at Doane, the series will allow for dynamic talks about race and social issues, preparing students for life and work in a diverse and global society. This marks the second presentation in the series - the first was by Rev. Polk in 2016. Polk will be in attendance for the 2017 event.

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