‘Urgency of Now’ is focus of ICS lectures

The 2017 Spring Speaker Series hosted by the University’s Institute for the Study of Culture and Society (ICS) looks at “The Urgency of the Moment: Institutions, Inequality and Action.”

The theme, taken from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 speech at the March on Washington, is to “remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. … Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.”

According to Dr. Jolie Sheffer, ICS director, “In 2017, we feel the urgency of our moment. Citizens across the country are paying renewed attention to the way institutions designed to promote safety, security, and the public welfare can also provoke fear, insecurity and distrust.”

The lecture series is focused on exploring the relationship between institutions and social inequality, between our civic organizations and the public(s) they serve.

Four presentations are scheduled this semester.

On Tuesday (Jan. 24) Jeanne Theoharis, a distinguished professor of political science at Brooklyn College of City University of New York, will present “Revisiting Rosa Parks in the Age of Black Lives Matter.” Her talk will begin at 4:30 p.m. in the McFall Assembly Room. Theoharis is the author of numerous books and articles on civil rights, including the biography “The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks,” which won a 2014 NAACP Image Award and the Letitia Wood Brown Award from the Association of Black Women Historians. She has published articles on the U.S. prison system, surveillance and Islamophobia in mainstream media and publications.

“Fight Like Hell for the Living: Trans* Activists Speak Out About State Violence” is the topic for a Feb. 8 panel discussion planned for 5:30 p.m. in 208 Bowen-Thompson Student Union. A group of local and regional activists will discuss ongoing concerns from Trans* communities about the ways their everyday actions and their identities are regulated and contained by agents of the state. The panel members are working to challenge various forms of state control and violence against Trans* bodies.

Brett Story, a writer, geographer and documentary filmmaker, will screen her film, “The Prison in Twelve Landscapes” at 6 p.m. on Feb. 15 in the Union Theater (Room 206). Story will discuss the film, which investigates the economic, social and psychological place that prisons hold in U.S. culture today. The documentary earned the Special Jury Prize for Canadian Feature Documentary at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, the Colin Low Prize for Best Canadian Documentary at the DOXA Documentary Festival, and a special jury mention at the Camden International Film Festival. The film will be broadcast this year on PBS’s “Independent Lens.”

The fourth event of the series, “America’s Most Unjust Export: Considering Justice and Prisons in a Global Context” by Dr. Baz Dreisinger is at 4:30 p.m. on March 14 in the Union Theater (Room 206). Dreisinger, a professor of English at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, will talk about the mass incarceration crisis and alternative approaches around the world. She is the founder and academic director of John Jay’s Prison-to-College Pipeline program and also is the author of “Incarceration Nations: A Journey to Justice in Prisons Around the World.”

The programs are free and open to the public. Guests with disabilities are requested to indicate in advance if they need special services, assistance or appropriate modifications to fully participate in any of these events by contacting Accessibility Services, access@bgsu.edu, 419-372-8495. For information about parking, visit bgsu.edu/parking.