Dr. Charles Johnson to Discuss ‘The Freedom to Read’ at Presidential Symposium

Writer and Philosopher Dr. Charles Johnson will give a presentation, titled “The Freedom to Read” at Montgomery County Community College’s Central Campus, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell, on Friday, April 1 during a Presidential Symposium from 12:30-2 p.m. The public is invited to attend this free, inspiring and informative presentation.

The second annual Presidential Symposium is a capstone event of the College’s continuing dialogue on diversity for 2010-2011. Under the direction of President Karen A. Stout, the College’s Diversity Advisory Committee incorporates an array of existing and new programs, clubs, performances and guest speakers to support students and community members of varying ages, backgrounds and ethnicity.

During his presentation, Dr. Johnson will explore the historical struggle for literacy and the value of reading in sustaining human rights.

Johnson is described as a poet, philosopher, novelist, teacher, cartoonist, screenwriter and essayist. His writing, which includes the National Book Award winning novel Middle Passage, braids history, philosophy and artistry to show how the power of the past shapes the present. His engaging style draws the audience into an unforgettable dialogue.

Johnson is also the author of Soulcatcher, a collection of 12 original short stories that depicts events in African American history. Based on the PBS series “Africans in America: America’s Journey through Slavery,” the stories are written in a mix of literary formats, give fascinating glimpses into the impact of historical events on individuals.

Montgomery County Community College’s ever-growing student population reflects the growth in the County in recent years. According to U.S. Census Data, Montgomery County has the third largest population of all the counties in the Commonwealth with more than 770,000 residents.

Between 2000 and 2007, the overall growth for the County was approximately three percent. However, during this same time period, the increase in growth in the County’s African American population was 13 percent; Asian American population, 32 percent; and Hispanic or Latino American population, 49 percent.

The College has even greater percentages of mixed cultures, which creates new opportunities, as well as some challenges.

“At the end of the day, we’re all going to sit down at the table together,” Makofske said. “And, the question is ‘what are we going to serve for dinner,’ and that is why we need to have this ongoing dialogue.”

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