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Finlandia’s 2021 Campus Read Open Classroom Series to focus on racial justice

Associate Professor of History Dr. William Knoblauch will kick off the series on January 21 with a lesson on the Reconstruction era.
The Finlandia University Campus Read Committee announced the Spring 2021 Anti-Racist Open...
The Finlandia University Campus Read Committee announced the Spring 2021 Anti-Racist Open Classroom Series, which will complement the selected Campus Read book, "Stamped From the Beginning" by Ibram X. Kendi.(Finlandia University/Ibram X. Kendi)
Published: Jan. 18, 2021 at 2:55 PM EST
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HANCOCK, Mich. (WLUC) - The Finlandia University Campus Read Committee announced the Spring 2021 Anti-Racist Open Classroom Series, which will complement the selected Campus Read book, Stamped From the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi.

“We chose Stamped from the Beginning and Stamped as the Campus Read books for this year because Ibram X. Kendi’s work as a historian of racist ideas and antiracism can help provide such a powerful tool with which to think about history and about America’s present moment,” said Assistant Professor of English Dr. Carolyn Dekker, who is a member of the Campus Read Committee.

The series will open up numerous Suomi College of Arts & Sciences virtual course lessons to the public throughout the semester, in the hopes of providing insight into how racism plays a role in various facets of the arts and sciences. Interested participants can join the classes for free by registering online here. A Zoom link will be sent to participants the day before each event.

“When we engage with histories of racism, we need to draw from across academic disciplines – from history and literature, the history of science and the best in current science, from sociology and psychology in order to understand the impacts that racism has on groups and individuals,” said Dr. Dekker. “Our best public thinkers on the subject are reading widely and performing this sort of synthesis. I’m excited for this open classroom series because it will give students and community members an opportunity to sample what our various liberal arts disciplines can offer this discussion, perhaps even including exposing visitors to a discipline that they would never have otherwise had the opportunity to study and bring into the conversation.”

Associate Professor of History Dr. William Knoblauch will kick off the series on January 21 with a lesson on the Reconstruction era. The Reconstruction era is defined as the period immediately after the Civil War in which America tried to reincorporate the South. It represents the years 1863-77 in American history.

“Students can expect to learn about the political ramifications of Reconstruction, the different approaches to Reconstruction, the rise of Jim Crow laws in the American South, and how specific laws, initiative, and organizations, actively worked to create a South in which African Americans would have very few political rights or economic freedom,” said Dr. Knoblauch.

When asked why the Reconstruction era is so important to understanding systemic racism in 2021, Dr. Knoblauch talked about how the foundation of today’s racism was built as a result of the Reconstruction effort.

“The roots of today’s American-form of racism arose in part from the attempts at, and failures of, Reconstruction,” said Knoblauch. “Reconstruction was an opportunity to address what we call the ‘structural’ obstacles that recently-freed slaves faced. But armed with political weapons – more Congressional power, the Fillibuster, local Jim Crow Laws, and the KKK – southern Whites and their leaders refused to reshape the southern economy. The continuing efforts of oligarchs that arose from the slave aristrocracy spread their ideas into the American West in the decades to come, and their ideas about superiority morphed, but never went away. Therefore, Reconstruction’s legacy continues on to this day.”

Dr. Knoblauch’s lesson will begin with a lecture and accompanying images via PowerPoint, but there will be ample opportunity for discussion and Q&A.

Full Series Schedule

  • Thursday, January 21, 1-2:30pm Dr. Bill Knoblauch, “Reconstruction,” US History from 1865
  • Tuesday, February 2, 4:10 pm: Dr. Hilary Virtanen, “Racism and White Nationalism in Finland Today,” History and Culture of Finland.
  • Thursday, February 11, 9:10 – 10:30am Rev. Sarah Semmler Smith, “For the Bible Tells Me So: Christian Nationalism & White Supremacy,” World Religions.
  • Wednesday, February 17, 2:00pm Dr. Michael Reay, “Race and Ethnicity are Social,” Introduction to Sociology.
  • Tuesday, March 16, 11:00am – 12:00pm Dr. Carolyn Dekker, “Organizing with Dr. King,” African American Literature.
  • Wednesday, March 24, 1:10-2pm Dr. Jeff Pettibone, “Stereotypes and Prejudice,” Social Psychology.

You can register for each of the classes for free here.

About Campus Read: Every year there’s an enchanted experience on the campus of Finlandia University as students, faculty, staff and the community come together with the focus on literature. A book is chosen. Dialogues happen. Minds open. This year’s selection is Stamped From the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi. Story originally posted at finlandia.edu/news.

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