Baker Convocation focus is civil rights
The civil rights movement, including Kansas' participation in the fight for equal rights, will be featured in a week-long series of events as part of Fall Convocation at Baker University next week.
This is the first year Convocation has been a week long instead of one day, said Ira DeSpain, University Minister, said.
DeSpain, who coordinated the events, said the week focuses around featured speaker U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, a former civil rights activist.
"Representative Lewis' greatest fame is that he was an early leader of the civil rights movement in the 60s," he said. "Those issues were among some of his greatest accomplishments."
Lewis served as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which was responsible for sit-ins, marches and other civil rights activities. He also took part in Freedom Rides, which challenged segregation at bus terminals. He published his autobiography, Walking in the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement, in 1998.
Other activities include a symposium, "The Impact of Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education," with panelists Harold Jackson, 1975 Baker graduate and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, and Cheryl Brown Henderson, 1972 Baker graduate and a member of the Brown family; "The Affairs of Race in America: The Conversation in Black and White," a discussion of the state of civil rights by two of Thomas Jefferson's descendants, one black and one white; and University Worship led by Rev. Emmanuel Cleaver, former Kansas City, Mo., mayor.
DeSpain said Baker hopes to make the students and Baldwin community more aware of civil rights during the week-long series.
"Our hope is to highlight the civil rights movement in America," he said, "as well as highlight Kansas' unique experiences in the civil rights movement. It's a time to celebrate the civil rights achievements and to dedicate ourselves to the future.
"It seems to me the issues highlight American history," he said. "It's a heritage each citizen of the United States needs to claim as their history."
The week's schedule of events:
Monday, Sept. 17
"Songs of the Civil Rights Movement," a concert by the St. James United Methodist Church Daybreak Choir. 8 p.m. Rice Auditorium.
Tuesday, Sept. 18
"The Rhetoric of Freedom," forensic presentations of speeches of the civil rights movements, presented by the Baker forensics team. 11 a.m. McKibben Recital Hall.
"The Affairs of Race in America: The Conversation in Black and White," a discussion of two of Thomas Jefferson's descendants, one black and one white. 7:30 p.m. Rice Auditorium.
Wednesday, Sept. 19
"The Impact of Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education," symposium with panelists Cheryl Brown Henderson and Harold Jackson, both Baker alumni. 7:30 p.m. Rice Auditorium.
Thursday, Sept. 20
University Worship led by Rev. Emmanuel Cleaver, former Kansas City, Mo., mayor. 11 a.m. Osborne Chapel.
Friday, Sept. 21
Fall Convocation. U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, a former civil rights activist, is the featured speaker. 11 a.m. Rice Auditorium.