Dr. Dominique Taylor loves being at NSU is because it reminds him of home.
“I love the area, and I found that here people come together to work together to build something that is bigger than themselves,” Taylor said.
“That was true down in South Texas. It’s part of the Hispanic culture. Everybody comes together. We’re smaller than everyone else, people look down on us, but no one is going to stop us.”
That’s what he saw when he came to NSU to interview for a faculty opening in NSU’s Department of New Media, Journalism, & Communication Arts. He saw that fighting spirit just like he saw at home.
Taylor started as an assistant professor in the department this fall.
His hometown is only nine hours south from Natchitoches in Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. After being in the Air Force for four years, he stayed in New Jersey for a while before moving back home.
Being half-Mexican is something he holds proud and dear. It works out well for him as two of his documentaries are based around the South Texas area and involve Mexican and American history.
“The first one is about how Hispanics or Mexicans took control of the political system over Anglos who were trying to keep them down, and Hispanics took over,” Taylor said. “It kind of became a civil rights documentary.”
This documentary, “And Then the Soldiers Were Gone,” performed well.
“I think we got it in seven or eight film festivals, and it won two or three awards,” Taylor said.
“Just a Ferry Ride to Freedom” is another documentary he really loves.
“Everybody knows the Underground Railroad, right?” Taylor asked. “Everybody thinks about the Underground Railroad going up to New York and Canada, but there was a southern route.”
Mexico was free, he said, “but they brought in African-Americans. Mexico had tons of land but no one to work. They needed shopkeepers, they needed farmers, they needed doctors.”
Free slaves needed somewhere to live, “so Mexico was like, we will give you land for whatever you need if you come here,” he said. “Mexico was welcoming free slaves.”
It’s an undocumented piece of history of how many escaped slaves ran through the South and into Mexico.
He’s working on a third documentary, due in May, about a school that is teaching junior high through high school students the history of Mexicans and South Texas and the Mexican point of view.
As for his own Mexican heritage, “I’m a child of the eighties, and my grandparents would talk about it,” Taylor said.
“You’ve got to remember where I grew up in the South Texas area was 85-95% Hispanic, so everybody’s the same. Racism wasn’t as prevalent where I am. Now it was, back in the ‘50s and ‘60s. It was very heavy, and my grandparents would talk about it.”
In his work, Taylor loves telling the story of the underdog — “the person you would look at and think that there’s nothing to tell.’’
Regarding his own underdog status, he said he has lived a blessed life.
“I’m not privileged,” Taylor said. “I’ve had to work for everything that I have. I’ve had parents who loved me and supported me. We were poor growing up, but I was never hungry. I did things to myself that made me an underdog.”
He loves connecting with his students. He’s connected with students for 20 years.
His style of teaching gets his students out in the field early on. The first week of school he had his students filming The Current Sauce staff members handing out newspapers.
He wants to teach his students the basics. He goes to news stations and production companies to learn what they want a graduate to know when the time comes for a job.
“They all say the same thing,” Taylor said. “I want them to be hard workers, and I want them to understand storytelling.”
His goal is for his students to understand that this is a tough business.
“I want them to understand that it’s hard work,” Taylor said. “I want their work to be shown. I want everyone in the world to see it so when they graduate, they can say that they’ve run stuff on KTBS and NSU TV.”
He wants his students to have résumé material. He’s learned several lessons throughout his life he wants to share with his students.
“When you have an opportunity, just go at it like there’s no tomorrow,” Taylor said. “If you want to work in this business, learn the gear, get hands on training and be loyal to the people that are loyal to you. Work your butt off when someone gives you an opportunity.”