Turning to teammate Lachlan Pitts that day, Fowler said, “I’m not coming back to this class.”
Hello, public policy, and thanks to a raft of college credits earned through advanced-placement courses in high school, Fowler graduated from W&M in three years — while excelling on the field. His most inspiring undergraduate class was a study-away course two summers ago entitled Honestly Remembering Together.
Students traveled to Montgomery, Ala., where in 1955 and ’56, Black citizens refused to ride city buses because of segregated seating. Days before the boycott, Rosa Parks famously refused to yield her seat to a white man, prompting her arrest.
Montgomery’s policy was ruled unconstitutional by a federal court, a decision upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in December 1956.
Fowler and his classmates also toured Selma, the infamous site of Bloody Sunday, a 1965 assault by Alabama State Troopers on African Americans. Marching across a bridge named for the Confederate officer and U.S. senator Edmund Pettus, more than 600 protesters led by John Lewis, aimed to walk 50-plus miles to the state capitol in Montgomery in support of equal voting rights.
While in Montgomery, Fowler learned that the city’s public defender’s office was not created until 2015.
“Kind of knowing that even in the hotbed, the birthplace of the civil-rights movement, that people weren’t getting adequate representation until six years ago was really powerful for me,” Fowler said. “If it’s happening there, it’s happening everywhere, right?”
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