MC Community Conversations series explores "Human Rights"

MC Community Conversations series explores "Human Rights"

Jan. 18, 2011
Contact: Chloe Kennedy, News and New Media Writer

This semester, the Community Conversations series at Maryville College invites College and community members to explore the issue of human rights.

The spring series is a continuation of the fall 2010 series, which also focused on human rights, said Dr. Angelia Gibson, assistant professor of chemistry and chair of the Community Conversations committee.

“Because our suppositions and concepts of human rights influence our actions and choices as individuals, as well as our corporate ideals and values (and consequently public policy), we felt it was important to continue the discussion throughout the year,” Gibson said. “Human rights struggles are taking place in every nation. Our approach to the spring series was to identify a few issues that would be of particular interest to members of our campus and broader community.”

Community Conversations is an annual lecture series conducted to facilitate conversations and discussions between members of the entire Maryville College community, citizens of Blount County and surrounding areas, College alumni and prospective students.

Gibson said the Community Conversations committee tried to provide diversity in the topics, as well as in the geographic locations highlighted during the series. This semester’s series includes events that focus on the struggles for human rights in Eastern Africa, the rights of children, the rights of members of the LGBT group, and the use of music as a medium for human rights protest and advocacy:

Wilkens to share story of Rwanda

The spring 2011 series will begin on Tuesday, Feb. 15 with a presentation by Carl Wilkens, a humanitarian aid worker who refused to leave Rwanda during the 1994 genocide, remaining behind after others evacuated to provide assistance to orphans who were victims of violence.

Featured in the 2004 PBS “Frontline” documentary “Ghosts of Rwanda,” Wilkens now devotes his time to his educational nonprofit World Outside My Shoes, an organization committed to inspiring and equipping people to enter the world of “The Other.” Wilkens will speak at 7 p.m. in the Clayton Center for the Arts’ Harold and Jean Lambert Recital Hall.

Children’s advocacy is passion for Daley-Harris

On Tues., Feb. 22, the Rev. Shannon Daley-Harris, religious advisor and chaplain for spiritual retreats and religious institutes for the Children’s Defense Fund, will speak at 7 p.m. in the Clayton Center for the Arts’ Harold and Jean Lambert Recital Hall.

Daley-Harris has published widely on issues of children’s advocacy. Her most recent book is Our Day to End Poverty: 24 Ways You Can Make a Difference. A graduate of Brown University and Wesley Theological Seminary, Daley-Harris was ordained to the Ministry of the Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA) this year, and her work for the Children’s Defense Fund was validated as specialized ministry by National Capital Presbytery.

‘Rainbow Grannies’ discuss marriage equality

Carrie and Elisia Ross-Stone, a married lesbian couple known as the “Rainbow Grannies,” will speak on campus on March 31.

They were featured in the critically acclaimed documentary “Lesbian Grandmothers from Mars!!” that followed them on a 3,800-mile bicycle ride from San Francisco to New York City to rally support for same-sex marriage.

During their presentation, which will begin at 7 p.m. in the College’s Alumni Gym, the couple will share factors that are fueling the marriage equality controversy. They also will discuss their own personal journey from grandmothers to activists.

Protest songs conclude series

Dr. Terry Bunde, professor of chemistry at Maryville College, and Jay Clark, a Maryville College alumnus, will conclude the spring Community Conversations series with an integrated lecture-performance on Mon., Apr. 18.

Bunde has a long interest in folk and protest music of the 1920s through the 1960s and has taught a Senior Seminar course on protest music. Clark, an East Tennessee singer-songwriter, tours the Southeast, performing 70-80 shows per year.

Together, Bunde and Clark will discuss socially significant songs and the history of social protest music in America. The event will be held at 7 p.m. in the Harold and Jean Lambert Recital Hall in the Clayton Center for the Arts.

All events are free and open to the public. For more information on the spring Community Conversations series, please contact Angelia Gibson at 865.981.8892 or

Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2016 semester is 1,197.