Actor, author Hill Harper coming to Kokomo as keynote speaker for ‘Doing the Dream 2020’

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KOKOMO, Ind. – Actor and author Hill Harper will serve as the keynote speaker for Ivy Tech Community College Kokomo’s 16th annual “Doing the Dream” programs honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Harper will speak at the event’s annual community banquet Jan. 23 and at a student convocation Jan. 24.

Harper is an award-winning actor (in his third season as Dr. Marcus Andrews in ABC’s popular series “The Good Doctor”), best-selling author (including “Letters to a Young Brother”), and philanthropist (founder of the Manifest Your Destiny Foundation, a non-profit committed to providing underserved youth a path to empowerment and educational excellence). His academic credentials include a bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, from Brown University; a J.D., cum laude, from Harvard Law School; and a Master of Public Administration degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Harper’s latest book, “Letters to an Incarcerated Brother,” will form the basis of his keynote address at the community banquet that will begin at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 23, at Bel Air Events, 3014 S. Webster St., in Kokomo. Tickets are now on sale at $50 for the dinner and presentation; reservations can be made by going to ivytech.edu/doingthedream or calling 765-252-5500.

“Letters to an Incarcerated Brother,” as the rest of the title says, was written to offer “encouragement, hope, and healing for inmates and their loved ones.” Harper’s best-selling series began with the publication of “Letters to a Young Brother,” a book that judges around the country were soon assigning as required reading to juveniles accused of crimes.

In his description of the book, Harper said he began to receive an increasing number of moving letters from inmates who yearned for a connection with a successful role model. Citing disturbing statistics on African-American incarceration (one in six black men were incarcerated as of 2001, and one in three can now expect to go to prison some time in their lifetimes), Harper set out to address the specific needs of inmates in the book – a narrative he will share with his audience in Kokomo.

His talk in January will follow the theatrical release later this month of “Just Mercy,” an eagerly anticipated movie starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx that explores questions of racism and injustice in the American judicial and penal systems.

“The movie is adapted from crusading attorney Bryan Stephenson’s best-selling book that tells a true story about seeking justice for people wrongly convicted and mercy for those sentenced unjustly,” said Amber Williams, associate professor of psychology and lead of diversity efforts at Ivy Tech’s Kokomo Service Area.

“Members of Ivy Tech Kokomo’s faculty and staff book club found ‘Just Mercy’ to be powerful and thought-provoking,” she continued, “and we are looking forward to Mr. Harper sharing his insights on this critical issue with the Kokomo community.”

The community dinner will be followed on Jan. 24 by a free student convocation where Harper will share his student-targeted presentation titled “The Blueprint: Being an Active Architect of Your Own Life.” He begins with the belief that we all have the potential to create the life we desire, comparing an individual’s ability to build his or her own life to an architect’s design skills. As part of the conversation, Harper will talk about the importance of including a diverse group of educators, mentors, and friends to create a successful blueprint for life and how this commitment to diversity translates into broader efforts to build coalitions like those forged by Dr. King to address issues of civil rights and justice.

The free student convocation, open to area high school students and college students from around the state, will begin at 10:30 a.m. in the Kokomo Event & Conference Center, 1500 N. Reed Road (Ind. 931). To get more information about participating in the student convocation, contact Allison Toren, program chair of General Studies and a lead on the “Doing the Dream” activities, at 765-252-5518 or atoren@ivytech.edu.

Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) is serving as lead sponsor to support participation by a noted speaker for the “Doing the Dream” celebration. The Community Foundation of Howard County and the Northern Indiana Community Foundation are providing transportation funds to support participation by area high school students.

“Since 2005, Ivy Tech’s ‘Doing the Dream: A Cultural Celebration’ has been an annual event for the community and local students designed to embrace and celebrate cultural diversity as expressed by Dr. King’s vision of peace, service and unity,” said Chancellor Dean McCurdy.

“For our 2020 events, we are excited to bring to our community this noted motivational speaker. We believe Mr. Harper’s presentations to both the community banquet and a gathering of high school and college students from around our service area and the state of Indiana will challenge and inspire us to continue the work to achieve Dr. King’s dream.”

In the last 15 years, more than 26,000 people – school children, high school and college students, teachers and faculty members, religious and civic leaders, and community members –have participated in “Doing the Dream” activities.

Copies of Harper’s books are available for purchase at Beyond Barcodes Bookstore at 108 N. Main St. in Kokomo. The Kokomo-Howard County Public Library has a number of Harper’s works, including books, audio books, and DVDs, available for residents with library cards.

SOURCE: News release from Ivy Tech Community College Kokomo Region