@:Welcoming an educator of passion and vision
by Rick Norton
Jan 20, 2014 | 261 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Local observances commemorating the birthday of slain Civil Rights Movement leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did not end with a slate of emotional, and people-inspiring, ceremonies over the three-day holiday weekend.

Another is yet to come and it promises to bring another personal perspective on a volatile period in America’s history that pitted Americans against Americans in an often bitter, and inevitably violent, quest for equality.

And it comes to our Cleveland and Bradley County hometown compliments of one of our highly respected institutions of higher learning. In this case, it is Cleveland State Community College, and our people’s special guest is Freeman Hrabowski III, the longtime president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

To speak Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in the George R. Johnson Cultural Heritage Center on the beautiful CSCC campus, Hrabowski comes to us not just as a guest lecturer from a distant university. This man of personal conviction, whose natural leadership has even been recognized with an appointment by President Barack Obama, served as a child leader in the Civil Rights Movement.

He was prominently featured in award-winning filmmaker Spike Lee’s 1997 documentary “Four Little Girls,” an in-depth production on the racially motivated bombing of Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in 1963.

Most recently, Hrabowski and his respected university were featured on the CBS network’s “60 Minutes.” The news segment explored how UMBC and its visionary president earned national attention for the school’s achievements in innovation and inclusive excellence.

But his accolades are not limited to a talented Hollywood moviemaker’s endeavors, nor to a prized network news magazine.

In 2009, Time magazine named Hrabowski one of America’s 10 Best College Presidents, and three years later recognized him as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World (2012).

This professional educator has led UMBC since 1992. During his tenure, Hrabowski has become a widely published author of literary pieces whose research often focuses on science and math education with a special emphasis on minority participation and performance.

The university president chaired the National Academies’ committee that produced the recent report titled, “Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads.”

This heralded proponent of educational opportunity does not place personal emphasis on titles and personal recognition, but his work in the field of learning and his vision for equality has earned him the highest possible distinction. Recently, President Barack Obama named Hrabowski to chair the newly created President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans.

A continuation of our community’s commemoration of a fallen American hero — King died at the hands of an assassin on April 4, 1968, in Memphis — the coming visit by Hrabowski is part of the 2013-14 Program Series sponsored by CSCC’s Office of Special Programs and Community Relations.

@:As has been the case with multiple guest speakers on the Cleveland State campus, the UMBC president’s address is free to the public. However, because of limited seating in the auditorium, pre-event registration is highly recommended. To register for the Thursday evening presentation, or to obtain additional information, visit the CSCC website at mycs.cc/amazing.

Registration may also be completed by calling 423-473-2341 or by sending an email to events@clevelandstatecc.edu.

Our hometown is consistently being blessed by the influence of Lee University and Cleveland State Community College. One of the most obvious ways this is happening is our accessibility to national-caliber speakers who bring inspiring messages and personal insight — not just to our students, but to residents of all ages.

Freeman Hrabowski’s appearance Thursday is just the latest.

We welcome this educational leader and great humanitarian to an appreciative Cleveland and Bradley County community.

And we thank Cleveland State for bringing him to us.