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Civil rights proponent Joanne Bland to give campus, community presentations

January 31, 2013
Joanne Bland

EAU CLAIRE — Joanne Bland, co-founder and former director of the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute in Selma, Ala., will give presentations at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and in the community Feb. 11-12 as a UW-Eau Claire visiting minority scholar.

On Feb. 11, Bland will speak at noon and 1 p.m. in Schofield Auditorium and at 7:30 p.m. in the Woodland Theater of Davies Center. On Feb. 12, she will speak at 8:30 a.m. at Memorial High School. The lectures are free and open to the public.

During this visit, her second to Eau Claire, Bland will share her experiences in the civil rights movement as well as her insights into how individuals can create change in their own communities, campuses, and work and home environments.

Senior Karen Hansen, Amery, first met Bland during the most recent UW-Eau Claire Civil Rights Pilgrimage and helped to coordinate this semester's visit.

"She has such a unique experience and insight," Hansen said. "Even though Selma, Ala., may seem light-years away, she will find a way to speak directly to the people in our community about the need to seek and create change in our own realms of influence."

Bland actively works to promote civil and human rights, and particularly seeks to increase voter awareness. She has both witnessed and participated in some of the nation's most consequential civil rights battles, including the marches on "Bloody Sunday" and "Turnaround Tuesday." Only 11 years old at the time, Bland holds the distinction of being the youngest person to have been jailed as a result of the demonstrations.

"She began her journey as a change agent at age nine and has been working tirelessly since then to make the world a better place," said Jodi Thesing-Ritter, co-founder and adviser for the student group that organizes the Civil Rights Pilgrimage. "Her story will help our students to begin to envision how they may be able to make Eau Claire a better place for the future."

Bland's visit is sponsored by UW-Eau Claire, the Blugold Beginnings Learning Community, Housing and Residence Life, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Visiting Minority Scholar program, the Dean of Students Office and the department of history.

For more information about Joanne Bland's visit, contact Jodi Thesing-Ritter at or 715-836-2325.



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