Students to eye civil rights during Convocation week
Baker University students will be asked to contemplate Kansas' participation in the fight for equal rights with a week-long series of events, Sept. 17-21, celebrating the civil rights movement.
The week will culminate at Fall Convocation with featured speaker U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, also a former civil rights activist, speaking at 11 a.m. Sept. 21 in Rice Auditorium, said University Minister the Rev. Ira DeSpain.
"Kansas is pretty central in the early civil rights movement with Brown vs. Board of education changing public education forever," said the Rev. De Spain, who is coordinating the programs. "We want to make sure students understand the diverse world in which they live. This is important history to teach."
Lewis was at the forefront of the civil rights movement taking part in Freedom Rides, which were organized to challenge segregation at bus terminals across the South. He served as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which was responsible for sit-ins and other civil rights activities and, by 1963, Lewis was recognized as one of the "Big Six" leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, alongside Martin Luther King Jr. His autobiography, Walking in the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement, was published in 1998.
Other activities include "The Affairs of Race in America: The Conversation in Black and White," a discussion of the state of civil rights by two descendants of Thomas Jefferson, one African-American and one white; a symposium on "The Impact of Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education," with panelist Cheryl Brown Henderson, a Baker alumna and member of the Brown family; and The Long Walk Home, a movie about the bus boycotts that helped ignite the civil rights movement.
"We're hoping this can be a powerful week for students and for the community," the Rev. DeSpain said. "I'm really excited about everything scheduled."
Listed are the events now scheduled:
Monday, Sept. 17:
"Songs of the Civil Rights Movement," a concert by the St. James United Methodist Church choir, under the direction of Michael Charles. 8 p.m. Rice Auditorium.
Tuesday, September 18:
"The Rhetoric of Freedom," forensic presentations of speeches of the civil rights movement, presented by the Baker University forensics team. 11 a.m. McKibbin Recital Hall.
"The Affairs of Race in America: The Conversation in Black and White," a discussion of two descendants of Thomas Jefferson, one African-American and one white, relating to the state of civil rights in the United States today. 7:30 p.m. Rice Auditorium.
Wednesday, Sept. 19:
Symposium "The Impact of Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education." Panelists will include Cheryl Brown Henderson, Baker class of 1972 and a member of the Brown family, and Harold Jackson, Baker class of 1975 and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. 7:30 p.m. Rice Auditorium.
Thursday, Sept. 20:
University Worship at Osborne Memorial Chapel with the Rev. Emmanuel Cleaver, former mayor of Kansas City, Mo., preaching. 11 a.m. Osborne Chapel.
All-campus dinner in Harter Union Cafeteria, followed by the movie, The Long Walk Home. 5:30 p.m. Location undetermined.
Friday, Sept. 21:
Fall Convocation. U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, a former civil rights activist, will be the featured speaker. 11 a.m. Rice Auditorium.
The September art show will feature the work of prominent contemporary African-American artist John Newman in the Holt-Russell Gallery in Parmenter Hall.