Contemporary Issues Forum

All events take place from 4:00pm to 5:30pm in the Multicultural Resource Center, 062 Elliott University Center.

Hot Topics for 2013-2014

Who are the REAL American Indians? Identity, Culture and Belonging

Tuesday, November 19, 2013, 4:00pm to 5:30pm

It is a common experience for members of the Native American community to hear that people have “discovered” that they are part-Indian and are wondering what next steps they should take, if any. The range of motivations for exploring one’s indigenous heritage are many. Some of these reasons are particularly dubious, such as seeking to gain access to federal aid or admission to higher education, hence resulting in caution and suspicion in Native communities. At the same time, there are those who genuinely want to engage the identity exploration process as a path to deeper knowledge of self and reconnection with culture lost due to historical forced assimilation.

This program seeks to examine these difficult questions about belonging in Indian country and to hear from community members of differing viewpoints on the issues. Specifically, Mr. Greg Richardson, Executive Director of the NC Commission of Indian Affairs, will discuss the procedures that NC Tribes must go through for recognition and Mr. Paul Brooks, Chairman of the Lumbee Tribe will discuss the battle the Lumbee’s have endured for federal recognition.

Featuring special guests:

Greg Richardson, Executive Director, North Carolina Commission of Indian Affairs

Paul Brooks, Tribal Chairman, Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina

Mardella Sunshine Lowry, Lumbee Tribe Elder

Co-sponsored by the Native American Student Association and the Office of Multicultural Affairs

For more information, contact OMA at 336.334.5090

Speaker Bios

Mardella Lowry was born and raised in Robeson County, N.C. and is a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. She is the daughter of Clemmie Lowry and Ader Bell Wilkins Lowry. She moved to Philadelphia, became involved in United American Indians of Delaware Valley, and began her teaching and art career.Lowry has been the featured artist across North America and overseas at hundreds of festivals, powwows, schools and libraries. She has served as a mentor to American Indian artists across the country and played an intricate role during the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.  In 2012 she was an American Indian Women of Proud Nations Honoree.

Paul Brooks was elected in 2011 as chairman of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. A Pembroke native, Brooks has more than 40 years of experience in education, business and public service. Brooks has dedicated nearly two decades of service as a member of the North Carolina Commission of Indian Affairs. Brooks was appointed to the Commission in 1991. He served as chairman for 14 years. Over the years with the Commission, Brooks has helped develop several programs including the North Carolina Indian Economic Development Initiative. Brooks also had a hand in creating the American Indian Health Board, Job Training Program among several others.

Greg Richardson was appointed Executive Director of the North Carolina Commission of Indian Affairs, an advocacy agency within the NC Department of Administration, in In February 1995.  He was appointed by the membership of the NC Commission of Indian Affairs.  Previously he worked in the federal arena in Washington, DC, as Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  Prior to that time he served as Executive Director of the North Carolina Indian Housing Authority in Fayetteville, NC.   Since 1995, he has served in numerous management positions at the NCCIA.


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Beyond the Prison Industrial Complex: Education and Empowerment in a Multicultural Society

Wednesday, September 25, 2013, 4:00pm to 5:30pm

The penal system in the United States is immersed in recurring problems, including high rates of recidivism social, economic and political disenfranchisement, and creation of a modern racial underclass (see “The New Jim Crow”, Alexander, 2010). The first goal of this program is to understand the origins of the U.S. prison system and its role in our society, particularly as it pertains to the political strategy of different historical periods. We will then hear from community educators and activists who are working to change the distorted perception of those who are incarcerated and to empower those who are on the inside so that they may re-enter society successfully. In particular, we will hear from local community members who are part of the Higher Education in Prison Initiative.

Featuring special guests:

Michael Morrison, son, father, husband, friend, student and community member

Tiffany Kallam, Principled Problem Solving Community Alumni Fellow, Coordinator GC Higher Education in Prison Initiative, daughter, mother, friend and community member

Barbara J. Lawrence, Assistant Professor of Justice and Policy Studies at Guilford College, Guilford Diversity Action Committee Chair

Co-sponsored by Guilford College Higher Education in Prison Initiative and the Office of Multicultural Affairs

Speaker Bios

Michael Morrison was born in 1971 and is a native of Greensboro, NC. During his teen year’s Mike was a teenage father, high school dropout, and ultimately a drug dealer. As time progressed Mike was incarcerated throughout his life, and in 1993 spent time in Piedmont Correctional Institution. Mike completed parole in 1995.

Once after a second prison term Mike made a personal promise to himself and family members that he would never return to the streets because he wanted more out of life than living in and out of prison. “After overlooking my life I realized that I wanted to become a productive member of society”. Michael was able to obtain various types of fulltime positions along with working a part-time job to handle all financial obligations within his household.

After being married for 19 years, Mike has five children and one granddaughter, the joy of my life is being an example, overcoming your obstacles, and achieving success within one’s life. Currently Mike is enrolled at GTCC majoring in Global Logistics Technology and will complete his final semester this fall.

Tiffany Kallam is originally from Bemidji, MN and has resided in Greensboro, NC for 11 years. She graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Community and Social Justice Studies and a minor in psychology from Guilford College in Greensboro, NC in May 2012. Tiffany was awarded the Center for Principled Problem Solving Fellowship to advance her efforts around higher education in prisons, after which she attended Wake Forest University where she received her Master’s in the Study of Law.

Driven by a strong sense of community, and conviction for the value of transformative education and justice, she has spearhead efforts to launch a practical liberal arts prison education initiative trough Guilford College in partnership with key community collaborators.

During her time at Guilford College she was a Justice and Policy Studies Outstanding Student and Barton Parks Community Justice awards winner. She presented her work on issues of mass incarceration and the school-to-prison pipeline at Guilford College’s Undergraduate Symposium and NC Conference: Our Responsibility to Oppose the Abuse of State Power towards a More Humane Society. Tiffany is honored to have the unyielding support of and the privilege to work with the brilliant, inspirational people who are involved with higher education in prisons here in North Carolina and throughout the United States.

Beyond her work and study, her life is filled with the love of her two beautiful sons, Brendan and Roman.

Barbara J. Lawrence is an assistant professor of Justice and Policy Studies at Guilford College and the chair of Guilford’s Diversity Action Committee. She received her B.S. from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, JD from Indiana School of Law, and MPA from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University Purdue University.

Her 20+ years of professional experience includes: former NYPD police officer, investigator and trainer, criminal justice institute research consultant, former prosecutor, consultant for juvenile justice and other criminal justice programs.

She regularly writes scholarly papers, articles and reviews, and currently teaches a variety of courses in the Justice and Policy Studies Department in the criminal justice community and justice studies programs at Guilford College. Currently she is a facilitator and trainer for Guilford College’s Undoing Racism Training and serves on the Greensboro Police Department’s Bias Based Policing Committee.


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