U-M Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium

Signature Event

Memorial Keynote Lecture

Monday, January 21st, 2019

10am-11:30 am (EST) (Doors open at 9:30 am. Free and open to the public, not ticketed.)

Hill Auditorium

825 N. University Avenue, Ann Arbor MI, USA 48109

This year’s symposium features two speakers, Tim Wise, author and scholar, and Julia Putnam, Detroit principal and writer. See below for their bios.

Keynote Speakers

Tim Wise is among the most prominent anti-racist writers and educators in the United States. He has spent the past 25 years speaking to audiences in all 50 states, on over 1000 college and high school campuses, at hundreds of professional and academic conferences, and to community groups across the country. He is also the host of the new podcast, Speak Out with Tim Wise.

He has also lectured internationally, in Canada and Bermuda, and has trained corporate, government, entertainment, media, law enforcement, military, and medical industry professionals on methods for dismantling racism in their institutions. Wise has provided anti-racism training to educators and administrators nationwide.

Wise is the author of seven books, including his latest, Under the Affluence: Shaming the Poor, Praising the Rich and Sacrificing the Future of America (City Lights Books). Other books include Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority (City Lights Books); his highly acclaimed memoir, White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son (recently updated and re-released by Soft Skull Press); Affirmative Action: Racial Preference in Black and White; Speaking Treason Fluently: Anti-Racist Reflections From an Angry White Male; Between Barack and a Hard Place: Racism and White Denial in the Age of Obama; and Colorblind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity.

Named one of “25 Visionaries Who are Changing Your World,” by Utne Reader, Wise has contributed chapters or essays to over 25 additional books and his writings are taught in colleges and universities across the nation. His essays have appeared on Alternet, Salon, Huffington Post, Counterpunch, The Root, Black Commentator, BK Nation and Z Magazine among other popular, professional and scholarly journals.

From 1999-2003, Wise was an advisor to the Fisk University Race Relations Institute, in Nashville, and in the early ’90s he was Youth Coordinator and Associate Director of the Louisiana Coalition Against Racism and Nazism: the largest of the many groups organized for the purpose of defeating neo-Nazi political candidate, David Duke.

Wise has been featured in several documentaries, including the 2013 Media Education Foundation release, “White Like Me: Race, Racism and White Privilege in America.” The film, which he co-wrote and co-produced, has been called “A phenomenal educational tool in the struggle against racism,” and “One of the best films made on the unfinished quest for racial justice,” by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva of Duke University, and Robert Jensen of the University of Texas, respectively. He also appeared alongside legendary scholar and activist, Angela Davis, in the 2011 documentary, “Vocabulary of Change.” In this public dialogue between the two activists, Davis and Wise discussed the connections between issues of race, class, gender, sexuality and militarism, as well as inter-generational movement building and the prospects for social change.

Wise appears regularly on CNN and MSNBC to discuss race issues and was featured in a 2007 segment on 20/20. He graduated from Tulane University in 1990 and received antiracism training from the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, in New Orleans.

Julia Putnam is a lifelong Detroiter. Her professional life began, unwittingly, when she was sixteen and the first young person to sign up for Detroit Summer, a youth volunteer organization begun by James and Grace Lee Boggs in 1992. Through this work, she realized her passion for community-building and nurturing youth voice and began a career in education. She taught for five years in Detroit, including serving as writer-in-residence for the InsideOut Literary Magazine program. She wrote a regular column on education (“Learning for Life”) for the Michigan Citizen, which has been required reading at major Michigan universities.

In 2008, she became part of the founding team for The James and Grace Lee Boggs School and has served as Principal since the school opened in 2013. She has been the keynote speaker at Eastern Michigan University’s 2014 Eco-Justice Conference and also at the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative’s Place-Based Education Conference in 2017.

As the Principal, Julia works with teachers, parents, and students on re-imagining and humanizing education through developing and maintaining a positive school culture and ambitious Place-Based instruction. She could not do her work without the support of her wonderful husband, Peter, and the inspiration from her eleven-year-old daughter, Lucia, who attends the Boggs School and her thirteen-year-old son, Henry.