BREMERTON — Olympic College’s second edition of its Presidential Equity and Excellence Lecture Series is scheduled for 7-8 p.m. Feb. 28 at the Admiral Theater.
The first lecture on Jan. 11, featured activist Dr. Angela Davis as the speaker. Her presentation was titled “Building Community: The Case for Educational Equity.” OC received such overwhelming response to that event that it was moved to a larger venue. Cheryl Nuñez, OC’s vice president of equity and inclusion, and organizer of the Equity and Excellence series, said an estimated 700-800 people attended the event at the Bremerton High School Performing Arts Center.
“As important as the number,” Nuñez said, “folks expressed to me, even after the event, how much they appreciated having an opportunity for this kind of discussion in Kitsap County.”
The featured speaker at the Feb. 28 lecture will be Dr. Barbara Ransby, a professor of African American studies, gender and women’s studies and history at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Ransby directs the campus-wide Social Justice Initiative, and previously served as director of gender and women’s studies program and interim vice provost for planning and programs at UIC.
“Her topic is ‘Democratizing Knowledge: Teaching and learning for critical citizenship,’ ” Nuñez said. “She obviously has a great deal of insight as an activist and an academic into the inner sections and interdependencies among both roles.”
Ransby is the author of “Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision,” which received eight national awards. She also wrote “Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robseon.”
“She’s very much a person who is community engaged and able to bring her scholarly expertise and her organizing experience to bear on the issues that we face, that everyday people face,” Nuñez said. “I think she’ll be able to bring us a great deal of insight.”
The Presidential Equity and Excellence Lecture Series was founded by OC President David Mitchell. Nuñez said he and the college feel the series is important for the community.
“The college is committed to serving all of its students, and all of the learners in our service district,” Nuñez said. “It is a fact that there are opportunity gaps, structural gaps that result in disparities in college enrollment, retention, graduation, etc., based on social group membership.
“So we really can’t pretend to effectively serve our mission if we don’t address those gaps, and in an effort to do so, we think it’s important to engage the entire community inside our walls and around us in recognizing that this is a problem, and beginning to grapple with what it will take to transform those statistics.”
Though Nuñez said Ransby “doesn’t have the name recognition that Angela Davis does,” OC still hopes to have a lot of interest in the event.
“We’re hoping that on the heels of our last lecture, the community will be curious and open to the next in the series,” Nuñez said. “I don’t think they’ll be disappointed.”
The lecture is free and open to all, including students, faculty, staff and the community. For more information, visit www.olympic.edu or email communica firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michelle Beahm is a reporter for the Central Kitsap Reporter and Bremerton Patriot. She can be reached at email@example.com.