I recently went to an open house at the Trotter Multicultural Center on the University of Michigan’s central campus in Ann Arbor. I worked at the previous Trotter House, located on Washtenaw Avenue, over 40 years ago, so I was curious to see how the newly constructed facility on State Street compared to the old. The new center was impressive with bright, modern décor, expansive windows welcoming natural light, and breakout rooms to study individually or as a group; there was even a prayer room on the top floor. The walls of a larger gathering room were adorned with oversized images of students, chronicling the history of various causes they took up while attending the university. A spacious performance area in the basement was being used that day to showcase student talent. Students were found throughout the building; some lounging with food on the outdoor patio, others quietly working on laptops or tablets in cubicles, while larger groups huddled in the kitchen, enjoying easy conversations. I was encouraged to see the diversity of students gathered under one roof. There wasn’t much that resembled the old Trotter House. I was told that the reception desk was fashioned from a tree that was previously on the Washtenaw Avenue property and nearby on a wall hangs a sketch of William Monroe Trotter, an American civil rights activist in the early 20th century and the building’s namesake, both nods to the center’s history. The visit reminded me that it’s good to be proud of our past, but to be willing to adapt to change.
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