Anna-Catherine Kueng ~ Assistant Editor
On March 3 at 7:30 p.m. in the Memorial Ballroom, Dr. Micheal Fowler, known as “Mykee,” will perform a series of monologues relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
According to his website, Fowlin is a “psychologist, performer, and poet.” The website says, “His programs combine both his professional acting talents and his psychological training. His mission is to create an atmosphere of worldwide inclusion, not just tolerance, towards all people. He has worked extensively with all age groups in the United States and in other countries. His work has included peer mediation, diversity training, gender equity workshops, and violence prevention seminars.”
Annette Stadtherr, Director of Multicultural Services, first saw Fowlin in January 2019 when she and a group of students attended a Virginia Inclusion Summit in Richmond, VA.
She said, “He was the luncheon keynote [speaker] there, and students and I were awed by him. What he did was a series of monologues. I would say 7 to 8 different monologues. The monologues include scenarios on agism, socioeconomic status, racism, ability, gender, sexual orientation. He goes through the whole gamut of diversity in these monologues. You feel the marginalization that people experience or that he in that [specific] character is experiencing. It is that powerful. The place was silent.”
The accompanying students asked Stadtherr if she could get him to speak at the university. Stadtherr said, “So, here it is, March, and he is coming. From January 2019, it has taken me to March 3, 2020 to get him here because he is that popular and that in-demand. He travels everywhere because his message is powerful.”
Chloe Park, one of the students that attended the Virginia Inclusion Summit, said, “I remember his acting and his touching personal stories that incorporated equity. His point was that we may be getting better at becoming diverse, but we need more of inclusion…I would love to see him again when he comes to Lynchburg. It will be a good learning opportunity to think outside of a box because he will make you think a different race is just a different, true human being.”
Stadtherr went on to say, “I try to bring programs to campus that students want and that will make a difference, and it is a diversity, equity, inclusion event. We tagged it as a Black History Showcase, but it is more than black history. It is definitely diversity, equity, and inclusion. He is very inclusive in the acts that he portrays. We spilled it over into March because March is also Women’s History month. [Fowlin] talks about more topics than just race and ethnicity. We want Lynchburg to be an inclusive, welcoming place for everybody regardless of all those different social labels. This presentation that he is doing, I think everybody can see themselves or someone they know somewhere in one of these monologues that he portrays.”
As to why it is important to celebrate Black History and Women’s History months, Stadtherr explained, “It is all of our history. Sometimes, depending on where you are from, or the type of school that you went to, or the curriculum that is chosen, it may not be incorporated into your education, but women’s history, native history, hispanic history, black history…it is all of our history, if you really do the research. Everybody knows about the MLKs, and Rosa Parks, and famous people, but how many people know that a lot of everyday use [items] like the hairbrush was invented by an African-American person? The history of persons of color, and women, they have all played major roles in all of our history. It is not always taught in the history books or the history lessons we learn.”
Park commented, “Personally, it is a little saddening to think that we have to try this hard to celebrate diversity, equity, and inclusion through events because it should already be normal and natural thing to form such diversity, equity, and inclusion. However, it has to begin somewhere. I believe that these sparks in Lynchburg will flare up a fire to truly shape diversity, equity, and inclusion.”