Ripon College speakers highlight Black History Month

As part of Black History Month presentations, Gary Yerkey ’66 of Washington, D.C., will discuss his book “South to Selma: ‘Outside Agitators’ and the Civil Rights March that Changed America.” The talk will begin at 11:15 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 17, in Great Hall.

In the book, Yerkey details his participation in the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery civil rights march that had a tremendous impact on the history of the United States, as well as a direct personal impact on Ripon College. A small group of other Ripon College students and the Rev. Jerry Thompson, then chaplain of the College, participated.

The book also includes information about the broader civil rights movement, with some context and analysis.

“The book talks about the debate within Ripon College about whether the school should support sending students, or whether it was something that shouldn’t really concern us being that it was in the South,” Yerkey says. “For those of us who participated, it showed us that protests of this kind — organized, non-violent protest — could have a major impact. It reinforced the view for a lot of us that this was something we wanted to continue to work at.

“The march itself is credited with having forced Congress and President Johnson to enact the voting rights act of 1965,” he says. “So that was a very practical outcome of the march. It was the first time that guaranteed for all citizens the right to vote.”
Other Black History Month events include:

Thursday, Feb. 19
Motivational speaker Lamar Womble at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 19, in Great Hall. Womble is the founder of Passion for Leadership. He was inspired to become a motivational speaker after he attended a National Conference on Student Leadership in Orlando, Florida, in 2005.

He is inspired by his passion to work with students and to share his message. He believes that if you do what makes you 1,000 percent happy every day, you will lead a positive lifestyle and discover your passion in the process.

Monday, Feb. 23
Shawn Robinson will discuss African-Americans with learning disabilities at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 23, in the Heritage Room of Pickard Commons.

Are African-Americans in special education classes actually there for the right reasons? Robinson will speak about the difficulties of black men with learning disabilities in higher education.

Robinson overcame dyslexia, behavioral/anger management problems, and the accompanying low self-esteem to become a dynamic motivational speaker, especially for audiences that include students with learning disabilities. He holds a master’s degree in school counseling from DePaul University and is a doctoral candidate focusing on dyslexia and other learning disabilities.

Tuesday, Feb. 24
On Tuesday, Feb. 24, students from Ripon College’s Black Student Union will give back to the community by reading African-American literature at 10:30 a.m. to students at Barlow Elementary School


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