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Notable speakers to appear during ETSU Festival of Ideas

Contributed • Feb 1, 2020 at 1:23 AM

“Dreams and Discord” is the theme of the second annual Festival of Ideas at East Tennessee State University on Feb. 10-14.

“An Evening with Melissa Fitzgerald” will be held Monday, Feb. 10, at 7 p.m. in the ETSU Millennium Center. Fitzgerald is widely known for her role in the TV show “The West Wing” and as an advocate for persons in need. After leaving a career in Hollywood, she became the Advocating Justice Director for Justice for Vets, which is part of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals’ initiative broad justice system reform.

On Tuesday, Feb. 11, at 7 p.m., ETSU’s College of Public Health and the Mary B. Martin School of the Arts will welcome Mandy Harvey for a lecture, “Hidden Challenges: Understanding Invisible Disabilities.” Harvey is an American jazz and pop singer/songwriter who overcame her deafness to appear as a contestant on “America’s Got Talent.”

Josh Smith, news anchor at WJHL-TV, will lead a panel discussion, “By the People, for the People: Campus and Community Perspectives on Voting,” at noon on Wednesday, Feb. 12, at the Reece Museum. Members of the panel include Nathan Farnor, Joy Fulkerson, Stephen Hendrix and Dr. Jodi Polaha-Jones.

Pulitzer Prize-winning presidential biographer and historian Jon Meacham will speak at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 13, at the Millennium Center. Meacham is co-author of “Songs of America: Patriotism, Protest, and the Music That Made a Nation” along with musician Tim McGraw. The book is a celebration of the music that helped shape a nation and has been praised as a “glorious celebration of our diversity” by Quincy Jones and an “unusually well-written and moving story” by Ken Burns.

Meacham is also the author of the No. 1 New York Times bestseller “The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels,” which examines the present moment in American politics and life by looking back at critical times in U.S. history when hope overcame division and fear.

“An Evening with Jon Meacham” is a ticketed event. A limited number of tickets remain and can be purchased at https://www.etsu.edu/festival/. ETSU students, faculty and staff can receive one free ticket by visiting the Student Activities and Organizations office on the second floor of the Center for Physical Activity. ETSU students and employees may purchase up to four additional tickets at $20 each.

Playwright, director and actor Mike Wiley will close the Festival of Ideas with his play “Breach of Peace” on Friday, Feb. 14, at 7 p.m. The play is based on true accounts of surviving participants of the Freedom Riders and others involved in the early struggle for African-American equality.

Wiley’s plays represent works exploring the lives of individuals such as Emmett Till and Jackie Robinson as well as participants in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Brown vs. Board of Education and other events.

The Festival of Ideas series began in 2019 to highlight the university’s role as a thought leader in the region. It is sponsored by the Office of the President, Office of the Provost and the Division of Student Life and Enrollment.

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