The value of life; “I am Almost Dead”

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,” Martin Luther King, Jr. said.

In honor of Black History Month, Michael Dickinson, a graduate student at the University of Delaware, is giving a presentation entitled “I Am Almost Dead: The Worth of Black Lives, From Africa to the Americas,” on Tues., Feb. 23 at 4 p.m. in the Henry Student Center Ballroom.

Dickinson is speaking about the “harrowing experiences of enslaved Africans through the processes of capture, forced migration and sale.”

His presentation will also cover the “degradation of black bodies in the era of slavery” and contemplate the value attributed to black lives in the present.

“The goal of my talk is to examine the lived experiences of enslavement through the eyes of the enslaved,” Dickinson said.

“I want us to internalize what it meant to be stripped of freedom and deemed expendable.”

The Wilkes History Department was inspired to bring Michael Dickinson to campus because of the climate around the country and due to student unrest at other colleges, according to Dr. Diane Wenger, associate professor and co-chair of global histories and language.

Wilkes strives to ensure that all students feel comfortable and recognized here on campus.

“Knowing the importance of Black History month, we wanted to make sure we did it right,”  Wenger said.

The history department hopes to make this event an annual one to remind students of the past issues, while connecting them to current events.

“I’m very happy that we’re able…to bring in a speaker who is not a member of the Wilkes faculty or a member of the greater Wilkes Barre community, who can sort of bring a different perspective to the conversation,” Dr. John Hepp, associate professor and co-chair of global histories and language said.

His hope is that Dickinson’s presentation “sparks conversation among students.”

Wenger believes that it is a good idea for Wilkes to show students the importance of acknowledging diversity and remembering the race issues this country faced in the past that are still faced today.

Her hope for the impact of Dickinson’s presentation is that students come away saying, “I didn’t know that or I didn’t learn history that way in high school. I’ve learned something new. My eyes have been opened.”

Dickinson believes that William Faulkner’s philosophy, “The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even the past,” embodies the importance of the past in shaping the present.

For more information, students can contact Diane Wegner at [email protected].