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Season of Nonviolence 

Civil Rights leader john a. powell coming to Bend

john a. powell, visiting scholar to speak at COCC Jan. 27.

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john a. powell, visiting scholar to speak at COCC Jan. 27.

Season of Nonviolence is an international event that began in 1998 on what was the 50th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi's assassination and the 30th year of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination. The goal of the movement is to keep social activism alive. Central Oregon Community College (COCC) launched its Season of Nonviolence in 2009, honoring Dr. King, Gandhi, Cesar Chavez, and Chief Wilma Mankiller, with a goal of helping people to reflect on what it means to advocate for social justice in a nonviolent way.

COCC partners with Building Common Ground, which is a collective of leaders and community members throughout Central Oregon who care about issues of social justice and building opportunities for dialogue. This is the second year of community-wide book conversations.

"Last year we wanted to do something with more of a long-lasting effect," says Karen Roth, director of Multicultural Activities at COCC, "We wanted to deepen the experience over a period of time."

The book conversations span four to six weeks and this year the focus is on Claude M. Steele's "Whistling Vivaldi:  How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do." People are asked to read two chapters of the book. "They don't have to read the whole book before they go to a book conversation," Roth explains. These conversations are open to the public, and focus on our human need to belong. Visit the COCC.edu website to find locations throughout the community, including several local churches, COCC campuses, the Social Justice Center in Bend and the Redmond Public Library.

COCC's multicultural activities are year-round and include a three-pronged effort: first, recruitment and retention of under-represented students, which includes establishing a welcoming environment to those students who may not have previously felt respected, Roth says. The second goal is creating a campus community that respects all differences and the third is an educational effort, educating the campus and the community of all the ways that people are different.

The college's visiting scholar program is bringing john a. powell to Bend for two engagements on Jan. 27, open to the public. It is possible to RSVP online (go to the campus home page, and then the visiting scholar program).However, it is not required. All are welcome and it is free to the public.

Professor powell (he prefers his name be printed in lowercase) is an internationally recognized expert and author in the areas of civil rights, race and structural racism, ethnicity, housing, poverty, and democracy. He is Professor of Law and Professor of African American Studies and Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley, and the Executive Director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society.

Powell intentionally prefers his name to appear in lowercase, to be a "part of the universe, not over it."

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