Civil Rights activist and national treasure Clara Luper was one of the Respect Diversity Foundation’s earliest supporters and the first speaker to join us in our work.
Because of our great esteem and love for Ms. Luper, we have created a special designation for highly-accomplished presenters who carry on her tradition of excellence and promote the values of social justice and nonviolent activism she both held dear and personified throughout her remarkable and storied life.
Our Clara Luper Civil Rights Presenters are speakers, workshop facilitators and performers who communicate compelling truths about the Civil Rights Movement – as it impacts the lives of every citizen.
In most instances, the below descriptions provide only a small “snapshot” of information about the presenter in question. To learn about the Sit-In Movement, click on http://www.thefacesofchangefilm.com/About_the_Film.html
Contact our executive director, Joan Korenblit, to learn more about each presenter and identify the honoree(s) whose offerings best fit the needs of your organization.
Hannibal B. Johnson Esq.
Keynote Speaker / Social-Justice Leader / Author
Hannibal B. Johnson, JD, is an attorney, author, and independent consultant specializing in diversity and inclusion issues. A founding director of the Oklahoma Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, Johnson currently serves on the Oklahoma Advisory Committee for the United States Commission on Civil Rights. Johnson directed Anytown, Oklahoma, a statewide human relations camp for teens, for more than a decade and is a member of the Programs Committee for the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation. He has also served as an adjunct professor at The University of Tulsa College of Law, Oklahoma State University, and the University of Oklahoma. A prolific author, poet and playwright, he is also the recipient of numerous awards, including the “Keeping the Dream Alive” award from the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration Society and the 2006 Oklahoma Human Rights Award (from the Oklahoma Human Rights Commission). (The community and professional leadership credits listed above comprise only a fraction of those he has earned.) Johnson is available to provide keynote speeches and talks on numerous human-rights topics.
“Art activist” Eric Humphries has tackled such topics as AIDS awareness, evolution and war in his work – and for the last fifteen years, he has been working on a large series of paintings centering around violent episodes in history, known collectively as The Atrocities. Most recently, Humphries has finished work on a fourteen-month project detailing the events surrounding the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921. In his one-hour talk, “Art with a Purpose,” Humphries provides historical examples illustrating the power of art to effect change, even as he gives students an inside look at how his art is constructed (with attention given to key aesthetic elements and principles). He helps students “make the connection” and understand that they can use their own creativity and art to actively influence people to respect and defend human rights. (“Art with a Purpose” is appropriate for high-school students, college students and adults.) In his talk on the Tulsa Race Riot (1921), “Is the Whole World on Fire?,” Humphries uses photographs and paintings to share this important chapter in Oklahoma history with learners and motivate them to get involved politically and socially to promote respect and tolerance between people, preventing racially-motivated violence and destruction.
Author / Producer / Activist
Michael Korenblit is co-author of Until We Meet Again, the true story of love and survival in the Holocaust. In his most-requested presentation, Mike takes his audiences on a journey through time to Hrubieszow, Poland, during the late 1930′s and 1940′s. He relates the stories of two families and the impact of World War II on their lives. An award-winning producer, activist and social justice innovator (and Respect Diversity’s president), Mike uses his parents’ story as a touchpoint for human rights education in numerous spheres, as he gives talks and leads workshops with a range of participants – from fifth graders to high-school students to community groups. In his explorations of human rights and human rights abuses around the world, Mike communicates the responsibility we all share and how participants can make a difference. Michael addresses bullying issues specifically in all of his talks to children and teens and can tailor a bullying-specific message or community intervention to a school’s or organization’s needs. His talks on his parents’ Holocaust experiences and on national and international atrocities (which, as he explains, have their roots in bullying) have proven highly-effective in increasing empathy and reducing bullying in the schools he visits. In fact, after one of Michael’s talks, it is not unusual for a child or teen bully to have such a powerful awakening to the realities and harmfulness of their behavior that they make a declaration about their desire and decision to never again bully another person to him or to a teacher or educator in the school.
Storyteller / Musician / Oral Historian
Jahruba Lambeth is a 21st century “Griot,” an African storyteller who shares his cultural history and traditions through songs and stories handed down by his ancestors. Jahruba’s approach is to use authentic artifacts, folk-tales, songs and instruments to teach young and old about Africa and the African American experience. He conducts storytelling and hands-on drumming workshops for students, teachers and diversity celebrations and trainings. His offering, Jahruba and the Griot Drum Band, thrills audiences all over the state with poetry, traditional African drumming and songs from Cuba, Haiti and Jamaica. Sing along participation is encouraged. Jahruba’s drumming workshops are catalysts for inspiring would-be musicians. Drumming helps encourage students to think for themselves, even as it develops rhythmic skills, enhances musical abilities, teaches self discipline and listening skills, and refines small-motor coordination. (Jahruba brings all necessary equipment.) Jahruba is available for performances and experiential workshops throughout the state of Oklahoma, the U.S., and the world.
Dr. Gwen Fuller Mukes, PhD
Storyteller / Actor / Educator / Activist (“Sit-Inner”)
Growing up in segregated Oklahoma in the 40’s and 50’s, Gwen Fuller-Mukes witnessed and experienced many forms of discrimination practiced against African-American citizens and others. She became aware, at a very young age, of the atrocities committed against African slaves in America and their descendants, African-Americans. In August 1958, she and 13 other members of the NAACP Youth Chapter were thrust into history when they became the original Civil Rights “Sit-Inners,” eventually leading to the desegregation of public accommodations in Oklahoma. This experience began her lifelong dedication to pursuing equal treatment for all, her lifelong quest to learn more about her people’s history and history of other cultures, and her mission of helping others appreciate different cultures in our society. In her one-woman show, Gwen portrays historical African American historical figures – some well known and others less known, including: Harriet Tubman, Conductor on the Underground Railroad; Sojourner Truth, Abolitionist and Suffragette; Mrs. Mary McLeod Bethune, educator and friend to President Franklin D. and Mrs. Roosevelt; Bessie Coleman, first African American aviator; Rosa Parks, Mother of the Civil Rights Movement, and Stagecoach Mary, Pony Express rider who never lost her mail. Dr. Mukes presentations emphasize respect for cultural diversity, even as they promote character development. An African folklorist, Dr. Mukes enjoys telling stories of the Anansi people of Africa, involving her audience members as participants. A 40-year veteran public school teacher, Dr. Mukes now serves as an assistant professor in the College of Education at Wichita State University. She is the recipient of numerous civic and performance awards. She considers presentation and performance requests from across the nation.
Dr. Gloria J. Pollard
Educator / Public Speaker / Civil Rights Activist
Dr. Gloria Pollard has served (for almost four decades) as a public school teacher, higher education instructor, and career specialist for a state agency. She is currently working with the Diversity Council at a state agency to develop a community outreach plan which will build public trust in the agency’s commitment to respecting diversity. Dr. Pollard is no stranger to bullying. As a youth, she experienced numerous abuses which she did not recognize as racism and was unprepared for methods of responding to them. However, she was fortunate enough to spend her junior-high years in Dunjee School, an all-Black school, in which Mrs. Clara S. Luper was one of her teachers and mentors. Soon, inspired and led by Clara Luper, Dr. Pollard became a young participant in the Sit-In Movement of the 1950s. She eventually had the opportunity to travel to New York City to participate in the NAACP Youth Council’s presentation of “Brother President,” Mrs. Luper’s original drama depicting the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. During rehearsals for the play on the bus ride to New York, she became deeply aware of the difficulties and dangers of practicing nonviolent social activism. (Such is the power of art to communicate truth!) At the same time, she embraced the nonviolent path to change, having been reared by her parents to regard violence as an unjustifiable course of action for anyone. Because of her talent as a storyteller and her vivid experiences as both a victim of discrimination and a student leader in the Civil Rights movement, Dr. Pollard is able to move and motivate people of all ages to embrace respect for diversity with a spirit of tolerance for all. Dr. Pollard is a recipient of the Oklahoma Association of Minorities in Career and Technology Education (OAMCTE) President’s Award and The Golden Torch Award for helping promote diversity in the organization’s Leadership Conferences.
Playwright / Producer / Storyteller
Noted dramatist Dwe Williams uses storytelling, drama, music, movement, and visual art to provide Civil Rights education across a variety of subjects. Dwe (sometimes joined by her acting troupe) creates and presents original plays, musicals and workshops for people of all ages, hosted in libraries, parks and recreation centers. People from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds become unified in their recognition of essential human experiences and truths, as they laugh, cry, nod with understanding, and just enjoy Dwe’s rich writing and producing talents – and the rich talents of her performers. Dwe has earned a Bachelor in Speech and Theatre Education from North Carolina A&T State University, a Master in Creative Drama and Children’s Theatre from Southern Illinois University, and has advanced training in arts integration for education. She previously served as production manager and director for the Classen School of Advanced Studies in Oklahoma City. Dwe is available for classroom and school residencies of varying lengths, as well as for professional continuing education programs, in which educators, social workers and others learn how to integrate storytelling and drama into their work to enhance outcomes for their students and clients.
J. E. T. Torrence
Educator / Writer / Workshop Facilitator
J.E.T. Torrence is a master teacher (24-year veteran) who believes fear and ignorance are at the root of bias and prejudice, and that literature can be a powerful tool for promoting tolerance and respect for diversity. He shares his knowledge and techniques with other educators, through his thematic teaching units – including “Soul Food” (which “kicks off” on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and encompasses exploration of the American slavery experience, the life and work of Langston Hughes, the music of Duke Ellington, and a “cornbread tasting”). Mr. Torrence includes oral reading, writing, and readers’ theatre in all of the thematic units he creates. In his “Dealing with Disabilities Through Literature” thematic unit, students come to a greater understanding of people with disabilities of all kinds, even as they sharpen their reading, writing, analytical, and problem-solving skills. Mr. Torrence creates and presents talks and storytelling experiences for students (middle school and older) and adults, and he is available to speak and teach educator workshops on numerous topics related to Civil Rights Education, thematic unit generation and execution, and respect for diversity.
Joan Korenblit, M.Ed.
Author / Poetry Workshop Facilitator / RDF Co-Founder
(Profile Coming Soon!)
Stan Evans, JD
OU Law Center Assistant Dean / Diversity Advocate
(Profile Coming Soon!)
Imam Imad S. Enchassi, PhD
(Profile Coming Soon!)