January 10, 2007

Joan Southgate, activist and 1954 alumna, to keynote MLK Celebration


An alumna who embarked on a 350-mile foot journey throughout Ohio to retrace the Underground Railroad is the keynote speaker for the university's 2007 Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration beginning at 12:30 p.m., January 26, in Amasa Stone Chapel, 10940 Euclid Ave. The talk is free and open to the public.

Joan Southgate, a 1954 graduate of the School of Applied Social Sciences of Western Reserve University (now the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences), spent 30 years in the social work field advocating for the needy, including foster children and senior citizens.

A retired grandmother, Southgate was an avid walker in her neighborhood when the idea of traveling the path of the Underground Railroad came to her. Her 2002 trip was in honor of the countless slaves who escaped bondage and escaped through Ohio to freedom. Walking ten-mile segments, she began her journey in southern Ripley, Ohio and completed the trek in University Circle.

She said she wanted to set an example for her grandchildren and others. "It has been an extraordinary, transforming journey that has filled my heart and my soul with more ideas for honoring all of those unnamed, unknown courageous American slaves who have given all of us Americans so much," she wrote in her online journal about the experience. She chronicled the trek in a book, "In Their Path," and formed an educational program of the same name. In addition to her walk in Ohio, she eventually went on to travel by foot to St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada to complete the Underground Railroad journey.

"Case is honored to welcome home our own drum major for justice in the body of Joan Southgate. Rather than just read about slavery, Ms. Southgate dared to walk the path of our ancestors and their journey to freedom. By doing so, she shares a unique awareness and insight with those of us who are privileged enough to share her experience. This is a unique opportunity and an historic moment in time not unlike those that Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. shared on his many trips to Cleveland and northeast Ohio. We are proud to call Ms. Southgate our very own," said Kathryn Hall, assistant vice president of institutional diversity and equity at Case.

A reception in the Adelbert Hall atrium will be held immediately after the lecture. Southgate will sign copies of her book, which will be available for purchase both at the chapel and at the reception.

For more information, please contact the University's Equal Opportunity and Diversity office at 216-368-8877, or go to http://www.case.edu/events/mlk/.

To find out more about Southgate, go to http://www.case.edu/events/mlk/. To read her online journal about the walk, go to http://www.intheirpath.org/.

For more information contact Kimyette Finley, 216.368.0521.

Posted by: Heidi Cool, January 10, 2007 10:54 AM | News Topics: Authors, Events, HeadlinesMain, Lectures/Speakers, Provost Initiatives, Public Policy/Politics

Case Western Reserve University is committed to the free exchange of ideas, reasoned debate and intellectual dialogue. Speakers and scholars with a diversity of opinions and perspectives are invited to the campus to provide the community with important points of view, some of which may be deemed controversial. The views and opinions of those invited to speak on the campus do not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration or any other segment of the university community.