WWU to Celebrate Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan. 17

Monday, January 9, 2017 - 10:17am

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Western Washington University will honor the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. with an event titled “The Danger of Silence” on Tuesday, Jan. 17 featuring writer, teacher and scholar Clint Smith III. (image courtesy Clarence Maurice)

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Nikkita Oliver; image courtesy Sara Dilley

Western Washington University will honor the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. with an event titled “The Danger of Silence” on Tuesday, Jan. 17 featuring writer, teacher and scholar Clint Smith III.

Seattle-based artist and activist Nikkita Oliver also will speak and will lead workshops for faculty/staff and students.

The event, free and open to the public, begins at 7:30 p.m. with doors open at 7 p.m. on Jan. 17 in Western’s Performing Arts Center Concert Hall. Oliver will speak and then Smith will follow with a keynote presentation. A reception will follow and Smith will sign copies of his book, “Counting Descent.”

Parking enforcement will be suspended in all lots from 6:30 – 10:30 p.m. the night of the event, with the exception of load zones, disability and reserved spaces.

Also on Jan. 17, Oliver will facilitate a free workshop, open to all faculty and staff, at 1 p.m., and a free workshop for students at 4 p.m. Both will be in Viking Union 565A/B. A meditation and reflection space also will be available in Viking Union 565C.

Clint Smith is a writer, teacher and Ph.D. candidate at Harvard University. He is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and was named the 2013 Christine D. Sarbanes Teacher of the Year by the Maryland Humanities Council. He is a 2014 National Poetry Slam champion, a Cave Canem Fellow, and his writing has appeared in “The New Yorker,” “The American Poetry Review,” “The Guardian,” and “Boston Review.”

His TED Talks, “The Danger of Silence & How to Raise a Black Son in America,” have been collectively viewed more than 5 million times. His first full-length collection of poems, “Counting Descent,” was published in September 2016 by Write Bloody Publishing and is available for purchase at Barnes & Noble, Powell's Books, and Amazon.

Nikkita Oliver is a Seattle-based creative, teaching artist, and anti-racist organizer. She is an attorney, holding a master’s of Education from the University of Washington, where she studied racial disproportionality and disparate impact in school exclusion.

She is a writer-in-residence with Writers in the Schools at Washington Middle School, leads writing workshops with Arts Corp at Garfield High School, and is a teaching artist and case manager with Creative Justice, an arts based youth diversion program that provides alternatives to incarceration for youth who are court involved. She is the 2015 recipient of the Seattle Office of Civil Rights Artist Human Rights Leader Award, and has opened for Cornel West and Chuck D of Public Enemy and performed on “The Late Night Show with Stephen Colbert.”

WWU will also host a screening of the award-winning PBS documentary film "Freedom Riders," which explores the role of student activists in Civil Rights movement. The film will be shown at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 24 in VU 552, and is free and open to the public. A small-group discussion will follow the film for those interested. The screening is co-sponsored by WWU's LeaderCorps peer leadership educators, WWU MLK Events Committee, LEADS, the Karen W. Morse Institute for Leadership and the WWU chapter of Success.

For more information on the campus MLK celebration, contact Leonard Jones, director of WWU University Residences, at (360) 650-2923, or Leonard.Jones@wwu.edu.

In addition to the campus events, two administrators from WWU will keynote the 19th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Saturday Conference to be held on Saturday, Jan. 14, from 10 a.m. to 3:30 pm at Whatcom Community College’s Syre Center (235 W. Kellogg Road). This year’s theme is “Working Passionately and Unrelentingly for Justice.”

Western President Sabah Randhawa will speak about his commitment to diversity and inclusion.  Karen Dade, associate dean for Western’s Woodring College of Education, will give the afternoon keynote speech. For over 20 years, Dade has focused her research on combating racism in schools. She has been involved in more than a dozen committees and organizations focusing on diversity and social justice. For more information on the conference, see: http://www.whrtf.org/