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MLK speaker to lead dialogue about race at LaGrange College Thursday

Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, president emerita of Spelman College, will present this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. program at 11:15 a.m. Feb. 6 in Price Theater.

Dr. Alicia Bonaparte, associate professor of sociology at Pitzer College in Claremont, California, will serve as moderator.

It is fitting to have Dr. Tatum as the featured MLK speaker, according to Brian Carlisle, Vice President and Dean of Students.

“Dr. Tatum is an award-winning researcher and author on the topics of racism and social change,” he said. “She has assisted many communities, colleges and businesses in taking leadership roles to create truly inclusive communities.”

Carlisle said this year’s program will be slightly different than previous events.

“This will be more of a conversation than a speech,” he said. “Dr. Bonaparte will be our moderator, and she and Dr. Tatum will be seated on the stage in a very informal setting. They will start with some remarks, then open the floor for questions or comments.”

Tatum is the author of the best-selling book “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations about Race,” now in its 20th anniversary edition.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Wesleyan University, and a master’s and doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan, as well as a master’s in religious studies from Hartford Seminary.

She is a clinical psychologist widely known for both her expertise on race relations and as a thought leader in higher education. She served as president of Spelman from 2002 to 2015 and was presented with the Carnegie Academic Leadership Award in 2013.

Tatum is a sought-after speaker on the topics of racial identity development, race and education, strategies for creating inclusive campus environments and higher education leadership. In 2005, Tatum was awarded the prestigious Brock International Prize in Education.

A Fellow of the American Psychological Association, she was the 2014 recipient of the APA Award for Outstanding Lifetime Contributions to Psychology. A civic leader in the Atlanta community, Tatum is engaged in educational initiatives designed to expand educational opportunities for underserved students and their families. In Atlanta, she serves on the governing boards of the Westside Future Fund, Achieve Atlanta, Morehouse College, the Tull Charitable Foundation and Georgia Power Company. She is also on the boards of Smith College, TIAA Charitable and the Educational Testing Service.

She is married to Dr. Travis Tatum, and they are the parents of two adult sons.

Carlisle said Bonaparte is a scholar in her own right.

“She researches health care disparities in the African American community, social stratification, medical sociology and female juvenile delinquency,” he said.

She also has written extensively about birthing, midwifery, reproductive health disparities, and class and gender issues in American society.

Bonaparte earned a bachelor’s degree from Spelman College and a master’s and doctorate from Vanderbilt University. She was awarded a summer residency in Jamaica by NLS, a contemporary visual art initiative, a Nicholas R. Doman Fellowship in the Social Sciences and a Mellon Junior Faculty research award.

“We are fortunate to have these two brilliant scholars with us for this year’s celebration of Dr. King,” Carlisle said.

Tatum will be signing copies of her book in the lobby of Price Theater after the event. 

Books for purchase will not be available, so attendees are encouraged to bring their copies if they wish them to be signed.