Northern Kentucky University has declared Nov. 14 to 18 Diversity Week, and it will be just that: diverse. The week includes guest speakers such as a former Black Panther member, a gay and lesbian issues writer from CityBeat and the nationally acclaimed director of a documentary seen at campuses throughout the country.
Starting off the week is a lecture by Evans Derrell Hopkins, a former Black Panther member and author of “Life After Life” which is Hopkins’ account of his experiences serving a life sentence in a Virginia jail after being convicted of armed robbery. The lecture will be at 7 p.m. Nov. 14 in Budig Theatre.
“I’ll be talking about young people and I’ll be talking about my books and my life in the Black Panther party and the idealism of that time and compare it with the idealism, rage and apathy of people today,” Hopkins said.
Cynthia Pinchback-Hines, the associate dean of African American Student Affairs, knows Hopkins personally and attended the same high school as Hopkins in Virginia.
“He’s brilliant in many ways; brilliance where he could not comprehend racism. [For Hopkins] the only logical thing to do was rebel against the system,” Pinchback-Hines said.
Hopkins was released from prison in 1997 after serving 20 years of his life sentence, and since that time he has focused on getting support for his “Youth Reclamation Movement,” Pinchback-Hines said.
“When he was in prison, he realized there were a lot of young folks going to prison whose punishment didn’t fit the crime,” she said. “He is very interested in preventing youth from going to prison because he perceives them as modern-day plantations.”
Another Diversity Week event will be the showing of the documentary “Journey to a Hate-Free Millennium,” and a Q-and-A session after the movie with director Brent Scarpo at 4 p.m. Nov. 15 in BEP 200.
Tiffany Mayse of Student Life said the documentary is “a powerful, powerful program.” The documentary compiles pieces of different films that display different forms of hate in our society, Mayse said.
“It fits well into our Diversity Week. Scarpo’s not jut a speaker, he’s showing through film diversity in our society,” Mayse said.
Diversity Week is an important event for NKU, Mayse said. “Diversity is one of our core values at the university. Opening our student’s eyes to different perspectives is very important. We want to bring our students closer together.”
Marking the half-way point of Diversity Week will be the lecture by CityBeat writer Kathy Y. Wilson, “My Sex is Not Your Politics: How Out is Out?” at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday Nov. 16 in BEP 200.
Kimberly Allen-Kattus, director of the Women’s Studies program and associate professor of art history, said, “Kathy has written some marvelous articles on gay issues.”
Allen-Kattus feels that gay and lesbian issues still need to be addressed in our community. “We offer one course that would be considered a ‘gay’ course: Lesbian Literature taught by Mary Bucklin. When I talked about this course to the Kentucky Enquirer, I was the recipient of many hostile phone calls and emails that made me aware of the fact that the issue needs to be discussed more.”
Nonetheless, Allen-Kattus is firm in her opinion that lesbian and gay issues are “appropriate for women’s studies. Gay and lesbian issues need to be part of our concern because we’re focused on gender. We need to serve the gay community and the community at large by teaching them to be more open about lifestyle choices.”
Allen-Kattus believes Diversity Week is a chance for the Women’s Studies program “to be an exemplar of tolerance and promote tolerance as a positive value. I think we need as many opportunities as possible to broaden our awareness on issues and problems that deal with diversity.”