BGSU ‘Beyond the Dream’ series hosts leading voices in social justice

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As Black History Month begins, Bowling Green State University has planned a powerful series of speakers and events that take the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous words “Beyond the Dream.”

Throughout the spring semester, students and community members will hear from national leaders of some of today’s most important social movements, aimed at bringing equity and justice to all members of society. Speakers include Opal Tometi, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement; Shaun King, journalist, activist and writer in residence for Harvard Law School’s Fair Punishment Project; Ariana Brown, award-winning poet and activist; and Tarana Burke, founder of the ‘me too.’ Movement.

“We’ve worked collaboratively to bring the most dynamic line-up we’ve had to date,” said Jennifer McCary, assistant vice president for student affairs and Title IX coordinator. “We hope these speakers will help spark much-needed conversations on our campus about equity, diversity and inclusivity driving us to action.”

“Beyond the Dream” events provide “an opportunity for the University to create a sense of belonging for our minoritized students and build a culture of inclusion on campus,” said Ana Brown, interim director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

They are also an avenue for all students to “learn, grow in their empathy, and develop a more inclusive mindset as a result,” Brown said. “By continuing to support the Black Issues Conference, ‘Beyond the Dream’ offerings, and other programming like this, BGSU is saying, ‘This is what we value and who we strive to be.’”

On Feb. 20, Opal Tometi will deliver the keynote address for the University’s “Beyond the Dream” series from 7-8 p.m. in the Lenhart Grand Ballroom at the Bowen-Thompson Student Union. Tometi is the daughter of Nigerian immigrants. She co-founded Black Lives Matters with two other women, and today is the executive director of Black-Alliance for Just Immigration. Her talk is sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs and the Office of the Provost.

Register to attend her keynote address

The 19th annual Black Issues Conference, held Feb. 20-22, features Shaun King. He will speak on “Civil Rights Today: The New Civil Rights Movement” at 12:30 p.m. Feb. 22 in the ballroom during the conference luncheon. His talk is free for BGSU students, but paid admission for others. Register for the luncheon by Feb. 8

In addition to the keynote luncheon, the conference includes a diverse set of workshops and panel discussions led by undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, administrators and members of the local, regional and national communities. Students are integrally involved in planning, programming and staging the conference, as well as presenting at it, Brown said.

“The Black Issues Conference is an opportunity for BGSU to share with northwest Ohio current research and knowledge impacting the African-American community on the local, state, regional, and national levels,” she said. “The presenters come from a broad base of experience, from nationally recognized speakers and activists to undergraduate students for whom this is the first opportunity to share information with an audience this size.”

On March 27, the Latino/a/x Issues Conference will host poet Ariana Brown as its keynote speaker. Her talk, at 11:30 a.m., will take place during the conference luncheon. Brown is a black Mexican-American raised in a working class community in San Antonio, Texas. She has received two Academy of American Poets Prizes and is a 2014 Collegiate National Poetry Slam Champion. Her work has been featured in journals, including Nepantla, Muzzle, African Voices, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review and iMantecal!: an Anthology of Afro-Latin@ Poets.

Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month kicks off from 4-8 p.m. April 3 in 202B Union. The kickoff will celebrate how Asian American and Pacific Islanders’ lives are woven into American culture and history, but will expand to include those who are part of the diaspora. Wayne State University faculty Dr. Roland Coloma will present the keynote talk, “The Ongoing Struggle for Ethnic Studies: The Politics of Race in P-12 and Higher Education.” This year’s programming will acknowledge and highlight intersectional and intersecting identities.

The semester ends with Tarana Burke, the 2017 Time Person of the Year for the viral ‘me too.’ Movement, as the speaker for the BGSU Libraries’ “Ordinary People, Extraordinary Stories” lecture series on April 30. A sexual assault survivor herself, Burke has worked for more than 25 years on social justice issues and laying the groundwork for a movement that was initially created to help young women of color who survived sexual abuse and assault. In her upcoming book, “Where the Light Enters,” she discusses the importance of the ‘me too.’ Movement as well as her personal journey from "victim to survivor to thriver."