Student services & organizations

The 6th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration to be held on campus

Heidi Durrow

Author Heidi Durrow, keynote speaker for the commemorative dinner.

The 6th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration to be held at Western Oregon University for the week beginning Monday, Jan. 21. The theme for this year’s celebration is Unity & Community.

The first event will be held Tuesday, Jan. 22. The film Brother Outsider will be held at noon in the Willamette Room of Werner University Center (WUC). Dr. Emily Plec, professor of communication studies and head of the Communication Studies Department, will lead a discussion following the film. The next event, Unity & Community: The Spoken Word, will be held at noon on Wednesday, Jan. 23, in the Willamette Room at WUC. This event is hosted by the Black Student Union. On Thursday, Jan. 24, Service Learning & Career Development’s Director Adry Clark will present How to Turn Your Passion for Social Justice into a Career at noon in the Willamette Room of WUC.

A commemorative dinner will also be held on Thursday at 6 p.m. in the Pacific Room of WUC. The keynote address will be given by author Heidi Durrow. Her debut novel, The Girl Who Fell From the Sky, was the 2008 winner of the Bellwether Prize for fiction (Barbara Kingsolver’s prize that specifically advocates literary fiction addressing issues of social justice). The book, now in paperback, was a New York Times bestseller and has also been on the LA Time Bestseller List, the Washington Post’s Best Books of 2010, made the Tournament of Books 2011 Long List and has been called a “Top 10 Buzz Pick of 2010”. The novel is based on a true story that explores issues of race, class, identity and coming of age in contemporary America. Durrow tells the story of Rachel, the daughter of a Danish mother and a black G.I. who becomes the sole survivor of a family

The Girl who Fell from the Sky

“The Girl who Fell from the Sky” by Heidi Durrow.

tragedy. Growing up in the 1980s, she learns to swallow her overwhelming grief and confronts her identity as a biracial young woman in a world that wants to see her as either black or white.

Durrow was named one of Ebony Magazines Power 100 and was nominated for a NAACP Image Award.  She has worked as a corporate litigator at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, and as a Life Skills trainer to professional athletes of the National Football League and National Basketball Association. Durrow’s writing has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, The Literary Review, Smokelong Quarterly, Callaloo, Poem/Memoir/Story, the Yale Journal of Law and Feminism, Essence magazine, and Newsday. She is an occasional essay contributor to National Public Radio.

Tickets for the dinner and keynote address are $5 for students, $8 for all others, and can be purchased in the Multicultural Student Services & Programs Office in WUC. This year, students will be able to use their meal cards to purchase tickets from Wolf Express located in the Werner University Center.

The International Club will present Civil Wars Around the World on Friday, Jan. 25 at 11 a.m. in the Willamette Room of WUC. Then a community service project will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. at Henry Hill Elementary School in Independence.

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