Activist and lecturer Jane Elliott, known for the Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes Exercise she conducted with her third grade students to expose racial ignorance, is speaking at Xavier tonight, Thursday, Feb. 10, at 7:00 p.m. in the Duff Banquet Room of the Cintas Center. Elliot’s lecture is so-sponsored by Xavier’s vice provost for diversity and several student offices as part of the University’s Black History Month events.
A former elementary teacher from Iowa, Elliott has committed herself to leading a fight against racial ignorance in society. She is known for creating The Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes Exercise in her third-grade classroom in all-white, all-Christian Riceville, Iowa, immediately after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. The sensitizing exercise labeled the participants either inferior or superior based solely on the color of their eyes.
The exercise allowed people to personally experience the feeling of being discriminated against in the same way that society often discriminates against women, people of color, homosexuals and the disabled. "Painful as it is," Elliott says, "my exercise is not invasive. It forces people to think in new ways."
Elliott has conducted her exercise throughout the country for the past 30 years and today works with college students in hopes of influencing the next generation. Her work was featured in several documentaries including the Emmy award-winning "Eye of the Storm." Elliott has appeared on “Oprah,” “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” and a number of television specials including being chosen as Person of the Week with ABC's Peter Jennings. Her website offers learning materials for general use and videos for sale.
The lecture is free and open to all members of the Xavier community and the public. Free parking for the event is available in the Cintas Center lot. For more information call 513-745-4998.