BY DEREK ALLEN
For the past three academic years, the Legacy Project has showcased a multitude of perspectives through various guest speakers.
From civil rights issue to the exiled King of Tibet the speakers were meant to be as engaging as they are diverse. Last semester’s topic was genocide, and this year the Legacy Project is spending some time behind bars.
This event’s keynote speaker will be Glenn E. Martin, founder and president of JustLeadershipUSA (JLUSA), an advocacy group aiming to cut the United States’ incarcerated population in half by 2030.
“We are eager for Glenn Martin to bring his expertise and passion for this Legacy
Project topic to campus,” said Professor Emily Birx, co-chair of the Legacy Project. “The state of
this country’s correctional system is a highly debated subject.”
Professor John Soltes, co-chair of the Legacy Project, said Martin will most likely talk about the future of his advocacy goals with a personal perspective. Martin, himself, has spent six years in prison.
According to a statement from justleadershipusa.org, “Americans across the political spectrum are coming to terms with the reality that our current rates of incarceration are too costly, ineffective, and unsustainable… Problems like mental illness, substance abuse, and homelessness are better addressed through comprehensive community based social services and interventions that cost less and yield greater results.”
Apart from the JLUSA, Martin has been involved in the Fortune Society, a re-entry organization devoted to helping former prisoners as well as the Inside Out Coalition, a group working to remove barriers to higher education prisoners face both in and out of prison.
“He speaks to all types of audiences,” said Soltes. “He’s an activist but he also talks to law enforcement as well. I think he’s very realistic in what he’s trying to accomplish.”
The event takes place at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb 11 in the Student Community Center, Davidson Rooms.
Martin speaking will mark the eighth Legacy Project event. The Legacy Project was started at CCM to provide scholastic opportunities for students outside of the traditional classroom setting. The goal of the project is to highlight a particular movement, time period or influential person during each semester’s event. The group hopes that the project will draw outside speakers to the campus who can bring their talents and perspectives to students and faculty.
“Our thought is to simply be engaging, and we always talk about context,” said Soltes. “So students can see that these big issues, some of them historical and some of them not so much, have a context in their life.”
The future of the Legacy Project is looking towards the presidential race. For the fall 2016 semester, the project is looking to feature representatives of nominee beliefs, as well as a speaker on disengaged voters to talk about voter apathy.
Another topic that may be chosen for future Legacy Projects is the issue of drugs in America.
“The topic would be chosen for the war on drugs, which a lot of people say is failing in many ways. And also the ongoing debate about legalization of some drugs for medicinal or recreational use,” Soltes said. “It’s a big issue.”
Soltes said the topic of prison reform and the war on drugs were popular when student surveys were done last year.