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Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation

Debby Irving
2016 Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation

This year's Martin Luther King, Jr. Convocation keynote speaker will be author Debby Irving.

Debby Irving brings to racial justice the perspective of working as a community organizer and classroom teacher for 25 years without understanding racism as a systemic issue or her own whiteness as an obstacle to grappling with it. As general manager of Boston’s Dance Umbrella and First Night, and later as a classroom teacher in Cambridge, Massachusetts, she struggled to make sense of tensions she could feel but not explain in racially mixed settings. In 2009, a graduate school course, Racial and Cultural Identities, gave her the answers she’d been looking for and launched her on a journey of discovery. Debby now devotes herself to working with white people exploring the impact white skin can have on perception, problem solving, and engaging in racial justice work. A graduate of the Winsor School in Boston, she holds a BA from Kenyon College and an MBA from Simmons College. Her first book, Waking Up White, tells the story of how she went from well-meaning to well-doing. 

Waking Up White is the book Debby Irving wishes someone had handed her decades ago. By sharing her sometimes cringe-worthy struggle to understand racism and racial tensions, she offers a fresh perspective on bias, stereotypes, manners, and tolerance. As she unpacks her own long-held beliefs about colorblindness, being a good person, and wanting to help people of color, she reveals how each of these well-intentioned mindsets actually perpetuated her ill-conceived ideas about race. She also explains why and how she’s changed the way she talks about racism, works in racially mixed groups, and understands the racial justice movement as a whole. Exercises at the end of each chapter prompt readers to explore their own racialized ideas. Waking Up White's personal narrative is designed to work well as a rapid read, a book group book, or support reading for courses exploring racial and cultural issues. 

You will have a chance to hear Debby Irving at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Convocation Wednesday, January 20, 2016 at 3:30pm in Cowan Hall. 


Martin Luther King Jr. Peace & Justice Awards

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award for Peace and Justice was established to Honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This award is presented annually at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Convocation. Any member of the faculty/staff, student, or recognized organization at Otterbein University is eligible to receive the award and to nominate recipients. Recipients should meet the following criteria:  The individuals or organization should be involved in activities on campus or in the community which serves to balance inequities; encourage like philosophies among others; raise awareness of social justice issues; promote equity and equality in the classroom and/or community; teach or demonstrate the principles of nonviolence in solving problems. To nominate a member of the Otterbein community or an official Otterbein organization (department included). Complete this form 2016 Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace and Justice Award. Nominations are due December 4, 2015. Nominees will be contacted and encouraged to submit additional information. If you have questions please contact James Prysock.

Learn more about the award.

Martin Luther King Jr. Multimedia Essay & Art Contest

Otterbein University’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Convocation Committee is pleased to announce the 4th annual MLK Multimedia, Essay & Arts Contest. The contest allows high school students (grades 9-12) to showcase their talents through art (drawing, sculpture, etc.), an essay or poetry, or multimedia (a song or dance for example). The 2015-16 convocation theme is Expectations of a Model Community: An Inescapable Web of Mutuality.

Students must submit a multimedia presentation, essay/poem, or work of art that symbolizes and represents the question above or the second component under Guidelines. Prizes will be awarded to the top entry per category or the top three entries if all categories are not represented. See guidelines for rules and regulations in the attachment below.

/ Office of Social Justice & Activism

The Office of Social Justice & Activism is located in Student Affairs in Hanby Hall.

Office Hours

M-F: 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.


James E. Prysock
p / 614.823.1312

/ Additional Info