News & Events at Concordia

Civil rights experiences presented on Martin Luther King Jr. Day at Concordia

Monday, Jan. 4, 2016
Dr. Lesa Covington Clarkson, university professor and Concordia alumna
Dr. Lesa Covington Clarkson, university professor and Concordia alumna

Two professionals with unique experiences related to civil rights will speak at Concordia University, Nebraska on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 18, 2016. The first session will begin at 10 a.m. with a presentation by Dr. Lesa Covington Clarkson in Weller Hall Auditorium on campus. The second session, led by Alvin Benn, will take place from 2:40 to 3:30 p.m. also in Weller Hall Auditorium. 

A panel discussion called “The Current State of Civil Rights and Racial Issues in the U.S.” will feature both speakers. It will begin at 12:40 p.m. in Weller Hall Auditorium. Each speaker will offer introductory information and then take questions from the audience. 

Covington Clarkson is an associate professor and senior graduate faculty member in the mathematics and science/technology/engineering/mathematics (STEM) area at the University of Minnesota. Her research interest is identifying successful strategies to increase student achievement, particularly among underrepresented student groups. She will share a presentation titled “Sufficiently Challenged, Enormously Blessed.” 

Covington Clarkson is the first African American to obtain her Ph.D. in mathematics education from the University of Minnesota. Before completing her doctorate, she earned a B.A. from Concordia University, Nebraska and a master’s degree from California State University. She has been a math educator for 37 years. Clarkson is also a member of Concordia’s Board of Regents. 

Benn, a former Marine who lives in Selma, Alabama, has been a journalist in the South for more than 50 years. His autobiography, “Reporter: Covering Civil Rights … and Wrongs in Dixie,” was published in 2006. He will be speak about his career as a reporter and his experiences with civil rights during the 2:40 p.m. presentation.

Benn has received numerous awards including the “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Alabama Press Association and the “Distinguished Alabama Community Journalist” award given by Auburn University. He and his team were nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1974 while he was managing editor of the Natchez (Mississippi) Democrat newspaper.

Both presentations and the panel discussion are part of the Looking Beyond Speaker Series, which is made possible through an ongoing gift from Martin and Regina Maehr. The series was created to present diverse speakers and ideas to Concordia students and the Seward community.