Bilal Dabir Sekou
Bilal Dabir Sekou spends a lot of time thinking, researching, and teaching about the gap between what most people believe to be right and how those beliefs play out in the real world.
An associate professor of political science, Sekou’s areas of particular interest are quality integrated education and voting rights. To illustrate for his students the division between ideal and real, Sekou uses the landmark 1996 Hartford-based case of Sheff v. O’Neill. The case resulted in a decision by the Connecticut Supreme Court to require the state to take measures to provide integrated education for Connecticut students.
“This case has not been successful in resolving the core problems of segregated education,” says Sekou, “and my own research and what I teach in the classroom are about understanding why there is support for integrated education in principle but only very limited success in implementing those principles.”
The concept of universal suffrage is also one, says Sekou, where students sometimes don’t initially understand the complex issues of who gets to vote and who is excluded, most often because of race. As an example, Sekou points to convicted felons who are banned from voting in many U. S. states and who are often African American.
“A lot of my students come from urban areas, and they’ve experienced challenges related to social justice firsthand,” says Sekou. “For those students from non-urban areas, these classroom discussions can be an eye opener. The ultimate goal is to make students sensitive to societal problems and to motivate them to go out into the world and make a difference.”