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Appalachian’s “Say What?” presentations on freedom of speech to include 5 nationally recognized speakers; several timely topics to be addressed

By University Communications

BOONE, N.C.—Five speakers, all experts in their fields, will deliver lectures and/or lead discussions during “Say What?: Examining Freedom of Speech at App State,” a weeklong series of events beginning March 23 on the campus of Appalachian State University. All “Say What?” presentations are free and open to the public; see for a full schedule.

View larger imageLee Bird will be featured in the “Say What?” presentations beginning March 23 at Appalachian State University. Photo courtesy of Oklahoma State University-StillwaterView larger imageRobert Shibley will be featured in the “Say What?” presentations beginning March 23 at Appalachian State University. Photo courtesy of Foundation for Individual Rights in EducationView larger imageDavid Pilgrim will be featured will be featured in the “Say What?” presentations beginning March 23 at Appalachian State University. Photo courtesy of Jim Crow Museum of Racist MemorabiliaView larger imageNancy Love will be featured will be featured in the “Say What?” presentations beginning March 23 at Appalachian State University. Photo courtesy of Nancy LoveView larger imageKen Nwadike Jr. will be featured in the “Say What?” presentations beginning March 23 at Appalachian State University. Photo courtesy of Ken Nwadike Jr.

The speakers will include Dr. David Pilgrim, vice president for diversity and inclusion at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan, and Robert L. Shibley, executive director of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).

Also speaking will be Dr. Lee Bird, vice president for student affairs at Oklahoma State University-Stillwater; Dr. Nancy S. Love, a professor in Appalachian’s Department of Government and Justice Studies; and Ken Nwadike Jr., CEO of Superhero Events and director of the Hollywood Half Marathon.

Details about the speakers and their presentations

Pilgrim will make appearances at two public events. On March 27, he will introduce “THEM: Images of Separation,” an exhibition, in Room 222 (Wiseman’s Lounge) of the Plemmons Student Union (PSU). A reception and exhibition viewing will follow. The event will take place from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.

As part of the weeklong series of events, “THEM,” a traveling exhibition of the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, will also be on display through March 31. It showcases items from popular culture used to stereotype different groups. The negative imagery – found on postcards, license plates, games, souvenirs and costumes – promoted stereotyping against such groups as Asian-Americans, Hispanics, Jews and poor whites, as well as those who are “other” in terms of body type or sexual orientation.

On March 28, Pilgrim will join Appalachian’s Dean of Students J.J. Brown and Director of Wellness and Prevention Services Dr. Alex Howard for “Stories of Resilience” from 3 – 4 p.m. in Room 100 (New River) of the PSU. Resilience is the ability to manage challenges and recover from difficulty. “Stories of Resilience” will be a community conversation, facilitated by Brown. Participants will share stories of resilience, and work to understand how we can develop resiliency skills in our personal and professional lives.

Pilgrim, a Ferris State University Distinguished Teacher, earned a Ph.D. from Ohio State University. An applied sociologist who believes racism can be objectively studied and creatively assailed, he founded and curates the Jim Crow Museum, a 5,000-piece collection of racist artifacts at Ferris State University that uses objects of intolerance to teach tolerance. He wrote “Understanding Jim Crow: Using Racist Memorabilia to Teach Tolerance and Promote Social Justice” (PM Press, 2015). He produced with Clayton Rye “Jim Crow’s Museum,” an award-winning documentary from 2004 that explains Pilgrim’s approach to battling racism. He is a commentator of choice for national media and a sought-after guest lecturer at universities across the country.

On March 28, Love will lead “Do You Hear What I Hear?: A Discussion of Hate Music with Dr. Nancy Love” from 6 – 7 p.m. in Room 415 (Rough Ridge) in the PSU.

There is a long history of protest music from progressive movements such as the civil rights, labor and environmental movements. In “Do You Hear What I Hear?,” Love leads a discussion about a different category of music, one that, she said, “is specifically intended to recruit members and raise funds in order to create hatred and promote violence.”

Love, a professor in the Department of Government and Justice Studies at Appalachian, earned a Ph.D. from Cornell University. She has written several books. These include “Trendy Fascism: White Power Music and the Future of Democracy” (2016); “Musical Democracy” (2006); “Understanding Dogmas and Dreams: A Text, 2nd ed.” (2006) and “Marx, Nietzsche, and Modernity” (1986). Love is the editor of “Dogmas and Dreams: A Reader in Modern Political Ideologies, 4th ed.” (2010), and the co-editor of “Studying Politics Today: Critical Approaches to Political Science” (2014) and “Doing Democracy: Activist Art and Cultural Politics” (2013). She recently completed a six-year term as the co-editor of New Political Science: A Journal of Politics and Culture.

Bird will work in small groups and workshops with faculty, staff and students throughout the week. On March 31, student organizations are invited to a gathering from 2 – 4 p.m. in Room 120 (Roan Mountain) of the PSU, to pose questions to Bird about the First Amendment on campus.

Bird earned a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona. At Oklahoma State University-Stillwater, she leads numerous functional areas, including the Student Union, Campus Life, University Counseling, University Health Services, Career Services, Dining, Residential Life and the Department of Wellness. She is also an adjunct professor in OSU’s student development graduate program.

“First Amendment on Campus” (NASPA, 2006) features several chapters that Bird authored or co-authored on responding to emergencies and on the First Amendment in the digital age. The book’s other authors are the late Mary Beth Mackin, who served as the president of the Association for Student Conduct Administration (ASCA), and Saundra K. Schuster, an attorney with expertise in preventive and civil rights law for education. Bird also served as ASCA’s president.

On March 29, as part of “The Free Hugs Project,” which he founded, Nwadike will appear at 8 p.m. in Legends music hall on Appalachian’s campus to show his audience how to effect the change they wish to see in society. Note: All patrons of Legends events must present a valid I.D. for entry and be at least 18 years old. Legends is located at 190 Hardin Street.

Nwadike attended the 2014 Boston Marathon to spread love and encourage runners with free hugs, equipped with a “Free Hugs” sign, a camera and a tripod. The video of his efforts went viral on social media, and a movement was born. Now Nwadike travels far and wide, inspiring students, educators and business professionals to make a positive impact in their schools, workplace and community.

“While viewing the devastation of the 2013 bombing of the Boston Marathon, I was determined to be a participant in the next race,” Nwadike said. “I failed to qualify by just 23 seconds, so I decided to attend the event in a different way. I provided free hugs to runners as encouragement along the route. This simple act made national news headlines and lifted runners’ spirits. Hugs produced smiles and gave runners an extra boost as they ran.”

Also on March 29, Shibley will deliver “Intellectual Honesty,” a lecture, from 6 – 7 p.m. in Room 201 (Blue Ridge Ballroom) in the PSU. The lecture will be about how college campuses act with regard to the First Amendment – and free speech in particular. Shibley has stated that “campuses are meant to be the ultimate marketplace of ideas in a free society,” and that college students are “regularly put on campus trial and threatened with the loss of their education and disruption of their careers for saying or thinking and expressing the wrong thing on campus.”

Three members of Appalachian’s administration and/or faculty will comment on Shibley’s lecture: Dr. Phillip J. Ardoin, Matthew Dockham and Dr. Sue Edwards.

Ardoin is a professor of American politics and the chair of Appalachian’s Department of Government and Justice Studies. Dockham is director of external affairs and community relations at Appalachian. Edwards is the vice provost for academic affairs.

Along with traveling to various campuses to speak about First Amendment issues, Shibley has represented FIRE publicly on “Fox and Friends” and “Stossel,” as well as on CNN’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” in national and international radio and TV interviews, and in published editorials in the New York Post, Boston Globe, National Review, Providence Journal, Daily Oklahoman, and other newspapers. He also writes columns for The Daily Caller,, and Pajamas Media.

The “Say What?” events are presented by Appalachian State University’s Office of the Chancellor and the divisions of Academic Affairs, Business Affairs, Student Development and University Advancement.

About Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 18,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.