Jane Elliott headlines month of MLK events at WCU

Press release from Western Carolina University:

Western Carolina University will celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. with a variety of events throughout January, highlighted by its annual MLK speaker.

Jane Elliott, renowned teacher, lecturer and diversity trainer, will be the 2018 MLK speaker at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 29, at the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center. Elliott is the creator of “Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes.”

As a third-grade teacher in an all-white, rural town in Iowa, Elliott struggled with a way to explain the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. to her students. As a means to help them process his death and educate them about discrimination, Elliott created an exercise in which her students were treated differently based on the color of their eyes.

Elliott has spent the past 50 years educating people across the world and has appeared on “60 Minutes,” “The Tonight Show,” “Oprah” and several other media outlets. She has presented at more than 350 colleges and universities. In addition to her numerous awards and accolades, Elliott also has been criticized, discriminated against, threatened and challenged as a result of her work, but she has remained committed to helping people better understand the impact of discrimination.

Following Elliott’s presentation, there will be a question-and-answer session. The event is free and open to the public.

At 2 p.m. Monday, Jan. 15, the annual MLK Unity March will begin at the Central Plaza fountain near the alumni tower. A reception will be held at the A.K. Hinds University Center’s Illusions Club at 3 p.m. It is sponsored by Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. and WCU’s Intercultural Affairs department.

On Wednesday, Jan. 17, “Unity, Not Uniformity” will take place in the UC’s Grandroom at 7 p.m. The performance-based event allows for creative expression of King’s legacy of cooperation, brotherhood, peace and respect. It is sponsored by Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., WCU’s Inspirational Gospel Choir, Black Student Union, Sexuality and Gender Alliance, the NAACP at WCU, Latino Appreciation Student Organization and WCU’s Department of Intercultural Affairs.

Intercultural Affairs will hold a Cultural Awareness and Sensitivity Education session titled “I’m Not A Racist” at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 18, in the UC’s Raleigh Room. Intercultural Affairs Director Dana Patterson will facilitate the interactive session.

The WCU Fine Arts Museum at the Bardo Arts Center will open an exhibition Tuesday, Jan. 16, by Willie Cole titled “Soles and Boards from Highpoint Editions.” Cole draws from his own African-American heritage and celebrates African art and culture while confronting viewers with the painful history of slavery in America, utilizing imagery of clothing irons and ironing boards. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

WCU’s Center for Service Learning will hold a MLK Day of Service volunteer event for a community project on Saturday, Jan. 20. For more information, contact associate director Jennifer Cooper at 828-227-7184 or jacooper@wcu.edu.

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