Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Charles McKinney delivers thought-provoking talk as Kennedy Lecture Series, Black History Month speaker


Charles McKinney, Jr., Ph.D., spoke on “Seeing the Unseen: Grappling with Race, History and the Fierce Urgency of Now” during a recent talk on the Chillicothe Campus. He served as this year’s Kennedy Lecture Series speaker, and his talk also commemorated Black History Month.

He discussed race relations in a historical perspective, touching on topics such as the founding of the United States, the civil rights movement, segregation by law and cultural norms, as well as the post-civil rights period.

“Our nation’s racial heritage is woven into the fabric of American life,” he said.

McKinney noted recent events, citing unwarranted killings and the inability to bring people to justice.

“Many things we have seen as a nation bother us greatly,” he said. “We have tried to make sense of what we have seen … some see things otherwise … and others do not see anything at all,” McKinney said.

Professor McKinney encouraged audience members to analyze their sources of information and to try to understand why others have different perspectives.

“The object of the game is not necessarily to get you to agree with me” … but to understand the various routes that lead others to come to different conclusions, he said.

Professor McKinney is the Neville Frierson Bryan Chair of Africana Studies and Associate Professor of History at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn. He is author of Greater Freedom: The Evolution of the Civil Rights Struggle in Wilson, North Carolina. McKinney has spoken and written widely, particularly on the development of the civil rights movement in rural North Carolina. He has appeared on CNN as well as published an op-ed piece in USA Today.

McKinnney teaches a variety of courses that focus on the African-American experience in the United States. He notes that he has long been fascinated by the under-researched phenomenon of mass-based protest and community struggle that occur in places far removed from the urban centers of the South.

McKinney earned his bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga., and both his master’s and doctoral degree from Duke University.

The Kennedy Lecture Series strives to bring esteemed speakers to campus to share their perspectives and insights. The lecture series supports the campus’ emphasis on providing area residents with activities that add to the richness and vibrancy of the campus and local community. 

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