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President's Lecture Series will Feature Two Speakers this Semester

By Joe Garvey

A New York Times best-selling author and one of the nation's foremost advocates for social and criminal justice will be the speakers for the President's Lecture Series during the spring semester at Old Dominion University.

The lectures are at Ted Constant Convocation Center and are free and open to the public. The University Village Bookstore on Monarch Way will have the authors' books available for sale.

Claudia Rankine: NEA Big Read Hampton Roads and President's Task Force on Inclusive Excellence Speaker

Rankine has written five collections of poetry - including "Citizen: An American Lyric," which was selected for the National Endowment for the Arts' Big Read - and two plays.

Rankine, who will speak at 7 p.m. Feb. 21, also has participated in several video collaborations and edited anthologies including "The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind."

Rankine has received fellowships from the MacArthur and Guggenheim foundations. "Citizen" won several honors, including the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry, the PEN Open Book Award and the NAACP Image Award. "Citizen" also was the only poetry book to be a New York Times nonfiction bestseller.

She is the Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry at Yale University and chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Although there is no admission charge, seating is limited. Click here to submit your RSVP. Tickets, which will be limited to two per person, will be available starting Jan. 21.

NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.

Bryan Stevenson: Marc and Connie Jacobson Raoul Wallenberg Humanitarian Speaker

Bryan Stevenson is a graduate of Harvard Law School and founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, which seeks to eliminate injustice and mass incarceration. In 2018, the Equal Justice Initiative opened the Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Ala., which documents slavery, lynching and discrimination in the United States. His talk is scheduled for 7 p.m. March 19.

Stevenson and his staff members have won relief or release for more than 125 prisoners on death row. Stevenson also is a law professor at New York University and author of "Just Mercy." Nobel Peace Prize recipient Desmond Tutu has called him "America's Nelson Mandela." Stevenson has received a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" and was named one of Time's 100 Most Influential People in 2015.

The annual Wallenberg Lecture is sponsored by the Marc and Connie Jacobson Philanthropic Foundation. Speakers, chosen by the University, must be humanitarians - "making the world a better place" - who are balanced in their philosophical beliefs and not at either extreme of the social spectrum.

The President's Lecture Series serves as a marketplace for ideas, featuring renowned speakers who share their knowledge, experience, opinions and accomplishments. Discussing timely topics, the series puts diversity first, showcasing authors, educators, business innovators and political figures.

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