African-American life, culture subject of speech

Former Washington State University faculty member Ron Rochon will return to the Pullman campus to give an April 29 talk about how popular culture has created a misconception of how African-Americans tend to contribute to society.

In the eyes of Rochon, now a faculty member in the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, too many people view African-Americans as just athletes, comedians or actors, and popular culture is to blame.

“What about the African-Americans who are scientists, lawyers or teachers? We need a more balanced view,” he said.

His talk, “Teacher Educators on a Social Justice Journey: Challenging Contemporary Media Imagery of African-American Life and Culture,” will take place from noon to 1 p.m. in Cleveland Hall Room 160A. The event is open to the public.

The inspiration for Rochon’s speech largely comes from a man he advised and mentored at WSU, Kipchoge Kirkland. A 1992 microbiology graduate, Kirkland stayed at WSU to work on a master’s degree in elementary and secondary education. After receiving his master’s degree in 1996, he completed a doctorate at the University of Washington and became an assistant professor at Indiana University. Kirkland unexpectedly passed away March 18 in Indiana.

“I think Kipchoge’s professional success speaks volumes about the job WSU does to support diversity and its students. Even though WSU is located in a remote location, it is doing an amazing job,” Rochon said. He and others will pay tribute to Kirkland during and after his speech.

Event organizer Milton Lang said Kirkland is well-remembered by those people at WSU who had the opportunity to know him.

“I think Ron’s talk will be very uplifting and speak to the many positive things that contributed to Kipchoge’s success,” he said.

Rochon is quick to point out that his experience teaching at WSU from 1995-1997 contributed to his own success.

“My wife and I had an amazing experience at WSU. I think we contributed a lot to the community through our work, but we received so much in return through many friendships, excellent advice and opportunities for professional growth. I am extremely excited to come back to Pullman,” he said.

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