January 9, 2020

Loretta Lynch, Jeff Flake to headline MLK events at Purdue

lynch-l Loretta Lynch
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University sets observances, celebrations with ‘Democracy, Civility, and Freedom of Expression’ series to honor late civil rights leader

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. —Loretta Lynch, who served as the nation’s 83rd attorney general, and former U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake will be the keynote speakers at this year’s Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration at Purdue University.

Lynch and Flake will discuss King’s legacy and introduce Purdue’s programmatic theme for 2020, “Democracy, Civility, and Freedom of Expression,” during their moderated talk at 7 p.m. on Jan. 22 in Stewart Center’s Loeb Playhouse. The talk will be moderated by Cheryl Cooky, University Senate chair and associate professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Studies.

This event is free, but general admission tickets will be required and will be available starting Monday (Jan. 13) at Purdue box offices located in Stewart Center and at Pao Hall, and online.

Lynch was the U.S.’ first female African American attorney general, having been appointed by former President Barack Obama, and serving from 2015-2017. She also twice served as head of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, first appointed by President Bill Clinton and later by Obama.

flake-j Jeff Flake
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Flake, who served both in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, is author of the New York Times best-seller, “Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle.”

 “We are incredibly excited to focus our semester-long efforts on promoting and exploring what it means to live and behave civilly in our democracy,” said John Gates, vice provost for diversity and inclusion. “It’s never been more important that we try to listen to and understand one another and to offer respect to those who may have differing opinions from us. That’s what our democracy was built on.”

 “Democracy, Civility, and Freedom of Expression” is the theme for 2020 and is sponsored by the Division of Diversity and Inclusion. Throughout the spring semester, students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members are invited to engage in conversations about and consider the importance of each element of the theme. Activities and events will include interactive workshops, performances, high-impact public speakers and innovative conversational gatherings.

Other events scheduled under the same theme of Democracy, Civility, and Freedom of Expression are:

  • Jan. 20: Day of Service honoring Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Volunteers will celebrate King’s legacy by serving with local community service agencies and the United Way of Greater Lafayette. Student organizations can sign up to be matched with volunteer opportunities by emailing Vanessa Pacheco at vpacheco@purdue.edu.
  • Jan. 21 and 22: UNH PowerPlay training labs: The University of New Hampshire’s PowerPlay Interactive Development program provides attendees an innovative opportunity to cultivate bias awareness and intervention strategies through interactive theatre. Facilitated by bias researcher Stephanie Goodwin, each training lab features several customized scenes during which actors portray everyday moments of bias and invite participants to explore possible responses. Goodwin is a research assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Wright State University. To register for the free workshops, click here.
  • Various dates January-April: Democracy, Civility, and Freedom of Expression gatherings: Throughout the spring semester, the Division of Diversity and Inclusion invites all interested students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members to gather for conversational groups engaging in the theme. Prospective participants may join by providing their availability for the free events, which will be repeated throughout the semester. To register, click here.
  • Feb. 19: "Religion, Polarization, and the Public Space" 6-8 p.m. in Stewart Center’s Loeb Playhouse. This event is free, but general admission tickets will be required and will be available from the Purdue box offices at a later date. This panel will discuss the role of religion in the pursuit of democracy, civility and the freedom of expression and the challenges posed by increasing polarization in public discourse as it relates to religious identity and expression. A religiously diverse panel of well-known leaders will explore this topic and others via conversation and contemplation. Panelists include Arun Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and president of the Gandhi Worldwide Education Institute; Sarah Hurwitz, who served as a speechwriter to former first lady Michelle Obama and recently wrote “Here All Along: A Reintroduction to Judaism” about her rediscovery of Judaism; Ron Reagan, who identifies as an atheist, the son of the late President Ronald Reagan and former radio host and commentator; Reza Aslan, an Iranian-American scholar of religious studies, writer and television host; and Amy Goodman, a host and executive producer of “Democracy Now!,” who will serve as the moderator.
  • March 10: Joint performance by the Morehouse and Purdue glee clubs. 7:30-9 p.m. in Stewart Center’s Loeb Playhouse. This event is free, but general admission tickets will be required and will be available from the Purdue box offices at a later date.
  • March 31: "The Role of the Media in Democracy Now." 6-8 p.m. in Stewart Center’s Loeb Playhouse. This event is free, but general admission tickets will be required and will be available from the Purdue box offices at a later date. Media professionals from multiple news agencies will convene for a timely and insightful conversation about the ever-changing landscape of the role of media in our democracy. Panelists include Mara Liasson, national political correspondent for National Public Radio; Juan Williams, political analyst at Fox News and award-winning columnist and author; and Soledad O’Brien, broadcast journalist and executive producer.
  • April 8: Purdue in One Room. 6-8 p.m. in Purdue Memorial Union Ballrooms. This event is free, but general admission tickets will be required and will be available from the Purdue box offices at a later date. Near the culmination of the semester, the community will gather for “Purdue in One Room,” a celebration of constructive dialogue.

For more information visit, www.purdue.edu/diversity-inclusion/events.

Writer: Matthew Oates, 765-496-2571, oatesw@purdue.edu, @mo_oates

Sources: John Gates, jfgates@purdue.edu

Kate Walker, 765-494-9925, katewalker@purdue.edu 

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