Voices of a People’s History Event

Ryan Johnson

According to British author and international advisor of education Sir Ken Robinson, “Collaboration is the stuff of growth.”

An eye opening and entertaining animated video narrated by Robinson, which includes this quote and focuses on the changing education paradigms, took center stage at the “Voices of a People’s History” event in held in Saville Theatre on April 5.

Mirroring the collaboration theme presented in Robinson’s animated short, the event included students from Veterans for Peace and the Visionary Feminists.

In the past, this event typically involved students from City’s Bringing Education and Activism Together club (BEAT), honoring voices of minorities and women in American history.

Event moderator and BEAT faculty advisor Larissa Dorman said the student-centered event is a “great way for students to connect their own lives to historical movements of the past.”

Students read prepared excerpts from speeches like Martin Luther King Jr’s “At the River I Stand” and Cesar Chavez’s “The Last Will Be First” while a photo slide show from the past and present provided context for the audience, mostly made up of students.

In addition to King and Chavez’s speeches on civil rights and workers rights, students read speeches with topics like the military industrial complex, marriage equality for gays and lesbians, and sexual assault.

The topical speeches and writings, some decades old, became immediately relevant and contemporary when brought to life by the students.

After the students finished with their speeches, Dorman opened the floor to audience questions.

One student asked Ron Weaver, who read a poem that discusses the realities of marriage inequality for gays and lesbians, “How can I love you as a person when I don’t agree with you?”

The conversation that followed was civil and thoughtful and as Dorman points out was the “type of conversation we need to be having — not reactionary rhetoric that divides people but rather respect and understanding for people from all walks of life even if we disagree.”

“It was inspirational to know,” said Dorman, “that this event was a forum for these types of discussions to take place.”

Students wishing to collaborate on future “Voices” events can contact the on-campus groups BEAT, Veterans for Peace, Visionary Feminists or Larissa Dorman.