Speaker focuses on MLK’s impact on youth and social media
As Martin Luther King Jr. Day approaches approximately 30 years of celebration and remembrance, Gustavus recognizes the legacy of the civil rights leader and his non-violent activism. The school invites David and Mary Winton Green Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago Dr. Cathy J. Cohen to deliver the 2013 Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Lecture at 10 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 21 in Christ Chapel.
Entitled, “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the Age of Obama: Building a New Movement for the 21st Century,” the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Lecture will be the fourth of its kind on campus. Speakers from previous years have been Pulitzer Prize winning author and historian Taylor Brown, civil rights activist and leader Bernard Lafayette Jr. and Laird Bell Professor of History at Carleton College Dr. Harry M. Williams.
A scholar, professor and upcoming expert on youth and politics, Dr. Cohen is also the author of The Boundaries of Blackness: AIDS and the Breakdown of Black Politics and Democracy Remixed: Black Youth and the Future of American Politics. She is also the co-editor of Women Transforming Politics: An Alternative Reader. Her areas of research and expertise include American politics, specifically African-American politics, women and politics, lesbian and gay politics and social movements. Her articles have been published in numerous journals and volumes including the American Political Science Review, NOMOS, GLQ, Social Text and the DuBois Review.
“What I’m excited for this year is that she will be different from the previous speakers. While they looked to the past and their own experiences, it will be exciting to have someone who is really looking to the future, and it is perfectly appropriate to today’s youth,” Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the Peace Studies Program Mimi Gerstbauer said.
Dr. Cohen also serves as the principle investigator and founder of the Black Youth Project, a project geared towards urban black youth. The core concepts of the project concentrate on knowledge, voice and action, along with concentrating on mobilizing black youth and amplifying their voices.
“She is interested in these new forms of social media and how they change the identity and participation of youth. How do social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and such influence the urban black community?” Gerstbauer said.
Not only does the website serve as a place where black youth can connect on politics and culture, it speaks volumes on African-American youth, their political attitudes and also shows some surprising findings with their opinions, not just political, but also with issues of identity and morality. The website, in part, reflects what really most interests Dr. Cohen.
“Her work is really on participation and identity of black youth in modern America,” Gerstbauer said.
For more information, visit http://www.blackyouthproject.com/.
First-year student and Diversity Center worker Imani James will present Dr. Cohen during Monday’s Chapel service.
“I’m really nervous, but extremely excited for Dr. Cohen’s lecture,” James said.
“I’m really excited to meet her. I feel like this is perfect for me. I’m Hispanic, but also part black and white. I feel honored and excited to meet her especially because I’m from Minneapolis. Because I grew up in Minneapolis and went to Minneapolis schools, I feel [like I can relate to her]. I’m excited to talk with her about our experiences and our similarities,” James said.
In addition to Dr. Cohen’s lecture, Minneapolis-based Mixed Blood Theatre will perform “Dr. King’s Dream,” a performance involving an in-depth look into the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Mixed Blood Theatre veteran Marvin Grays will deliver a commanding solo performance that resonates deeply with the profound impact of King. The performance will take place in Alumni Hall at 7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 21. Both the lecture and the Mixed Blood Theatre performance will be free and open to the public.