Photo gallery: MCC-Penn Valley’s Common Read Convention

MCC-Penn Valley students joined students from nine KC area high schools at the second annual Common Read Convention on campus. The book that spurred all the talk: Tanner Colby’s “Some of My Best Friends Are Black.” This school year, several Penn Valley classes read the book, and a number of related programs were held.

The author himself spoke at the April 20 convention in two panel discussions. After the second one, students broke into smaller groups to continue the conversation about race in America and Kansas City.

“I was happy to see the hard work of so many groups from our community pay off,” said MCC-Penn Valley librarian Michael Korklan, chair of the Common Read committee. “I think it was an enriching experience for everyone in attendance.  It was great to see our students take on a leadership role in working with the high school students.”

Yvette Sweeney, Penn Valley’s dean of student development, said the convention’s panel discussions reminded her “that our work to ensure that all individuals are valued and have equal opportunity is far from finished —  it requires each of us to examine our own beliefs and to educate ourselves to ensure that we aren’t blind to the experiences of others in our community.”

 Here are some scenes from the event. Read more about it here.

Before the morning panel discussion, MCC instructor Millie Nottingham talks to social justice advocate Alvin Brooks (center), namesake of MCC-Penn Valley’s Brooks Institute, and Tanner Colby, author of “Some of My Best Friends Are Black,” the campus’ 2016-17 Common Read book.
Interim MCC-Penn Valley President Dr. Tony Ross (left) visits with Tanner Colby. The author told the morning audience he came up with the book idea — a history of the “color line” in his own life — in 2008 after realizing that, although he was supporting presidential candidate Barack Obama, he didn’t have any black friends.
The morning panel discussed topics raised by Colby’s book. Participants were (from left) moderator Dr. Tony Ross, author Garrett Griffin (“Racism in Kansas City”), social justice advocate Alvin Brooks, MCC political science instructor Deborah Scott and author Tanner Colby. Brooks and Scott related personal stories of real estate segregation in Kansas City. Although the city comprises 318 square miles, Brooks said, most people of color live in one 55-square-mile part of it. “We’re still a segregated city,” he said.
Dr. Tony Ross (from left), Garrett Griffin, Alvin Brooks, Deborah Scott, Tanner Colby
The afternoon audience was about 300 students from nine area high schools. That morning they took a bus tour of Kansas City landmarks pertinent to the story of segregation, integration and failures of integration in Kansas City.
Afternoon panelists were (from left) moderator Lewis Diuguid, former columnist/editorial writer for The Kansas City Star; Shomari Benton, KC real estate attorney; author Tanner Colby; and Natalie Allen, Kansas City Public Schools chief communications officer. The topic was real estate segregation in Kansas City.
The small-group discussions also included some writing.
Kansas City spoken-word artist Glenn North emceed afternoon events at the convention.
MCC-Penn Valley students helped facilitate the small-group discussions.
MCC-Penn Valley’s Common Read project is “our way of making literature part of the everyday lives of our students,” says Common Read committee chair Michael Korklan.
Students respond to questions raised by the day’s discussions.