Author / Producer / Activist
Michael Korenblit is co-author of Until We Meet Again, the true story of love and survival in the Holocaust. In his most-requested presentation, Mike takes his audiences on a journey through time to Hrubieszow, Poland, during the late 1930’s and 1940’s. He relates the stories of two families and the impact of World War II on their lives. An award-winning producer, activist and social justice innovator (and Respect Diversity’s president), Mike uses his parents’ story as a touchpoint for human rights education in numerous spheres, as he gives talks and leads workshops with a range of participants – from fifth graders to high-school students to community groups. In his explorations of human rights and human rights abuses around the world, Mike communicates the responsibility we all share and how participants can make a difference.
Michael and Joan Korenblit
Michael and Joan Korenblit are co-founders of the Respect Diversity Foundation (RDF), a non-profit, tax-exempt educational organization, founded to teach understanding, respect and acceptance for all people. RDF has a Speaker’s Bureau of educators who are civil rights leaders, human rights advocates, Holocaust educators, visual artists, musicians, early child educators and more. Through RDF’s Speaker’s Bureau and numerous programs, educators work with students, teachers and community organizations throughout the state. Since its founding in 2000, RDF has worked with over 382,000 students, teachers and adults.
Joan teaches diversity art integration classes for students of all ages. She created the Respect Diversity Early Childhood Program, an art integration program that reaches pre-school through 3rd grade students. Recently, RDF brought DIFFERENT & THE SAME, which is a program for second graders offered by the Oklahoma Center for Community & Justice, to schools in the greater OKC area.
Joan created the Oklahoma Young Writer’s Project and is co-founder the Young Writer’s Contest Foundation, a national non-profit created with the purpose of inspiring students to write. From 1981-1987, YWCF published eight anthologies of students writings. The Introduction for the final anthology, AMERICA ON MY MIND, was written by President Jimmy Carter.
Joan’s own published books include:
* LANGUAGE ARTS THROUGH WRITING, Teacher’s Guide,
* GOOD COOKING FROM INDIA, Rodale Press
* KNOWING BEANS ABOUT COFFEE, The American Cooking Guild
* WRITINGS – By Our Children, Teacher’s Guide, Houghton Mifflin
Joan graduated with a B.A.in Education from the University of Oklahoma and a Master’s from The George Washington University.
Joan’s awards include:
- Clara Luper Service, Appreciation and Achievement Award, 2006. Presented by Clara Luper, the Mother of the Sit-In Movement.
- Purple Sash Embrace Award, 2010. Presented to a community leader who is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.
- Friends of Diversity Award, 2011. From the University of Central Oklahoma’s Multicultural Institute.
- Tolerance Award, 2015, Turkish Women’s Association.
Together, Joan and Mike received the following awards:
- Harley Venters Humanitarian Award, 2010. The Interfaith Alliance
- Humanitarian Award, 2012, from the Oklahoma Universal Human Rights Alliance.
- Hand in Hand Award, 2013, from the Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma City.
- The Midwest City Martin Luther King / Clara Luper Community Service Award, 2014.
- Humanitarian Award, 2014, Oklahoma Center for Community & Justice.
- Angel Award, 2018. Dr.Ruth Joyce Colbert Barnes Foundation & Oklahoma Sovereign Arts Foundation.
- Interfaith Award, 2018. Oklahoma Council of Churches.
Michael is co-author of the best-selling book UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN, the true story of love and survival in the Holocaust. For those trying to comprehend the impact of the Holocaust, Mike puts a human face on the numbers by telling of brave yet very human heroes (Jews and non-Jews) with concerns and feelings with which an audience can readily empathize. He relates the events of the past with timely issues of today, such as bullying, school shootings, racism, gangs, intolerance and genocide. Mike leads discussion groups with diverse groups such as fifth grade classes, auditoriums filled with high school students, and community groups. He compares the Nuremberg Laws to the Jim Crow Laws. He tells a moving story of how, when he was seven years of age, his father and mother not only explained, but showed bigotry to him. He tells his audience how they can make a difference, as a group and as individuals.
Mike is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He worked 19 years for the Close Up Foundation, an educational organization in Washington, D.C. He directed Close Up’s Television and Video Department, where he produced the Ace Award winning television series which aired on the Cable Satellite Public Affairs Network. He produced numerous award-winning documentaries including Democracy and Rights about the 1957 desegregation of Little Rock High School.
Dr. Nyla Ali Khan
Author / Educator / Activist
Nyla Ali Khan is a native of Kashmir, and a native speaker of the Kashmir language.
She is the author of two critically acclaimed books : The Fiction of Nationality in an Era of Transnationalism, in which she critiques the nostalgic support of subversive elements by the affluent diaspora from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. In my second book, Islam, Women, and Violence in Kashmir: Between India and Pakistan, I examine the seminal spiritual and political role of women in Kashmir, while also highlighting the plight of Kashmir generally as a gnarled bone of contention between India and Pakistan. This monograph is now used as a teaching text in several universities because of the growing interest in Kashmir.
Most recently Nyla have edited a major anthology, The Parchment of Kashmir: History, Society, and Polity, which develops an unparalleled understanding of the region’s culture, resilience and fate as political pawn. Several reviews of the anthology have appeared in academic journals. Her fourth book, which is a hybrid form of academic memoir and biography, on her maternal grandmother, Begum Akbar Jehan Abdullah, was released in June 2014 and is critically acclaimed as well.
She visits Kashmir frequently and have recently been active in giving lectures on the subject on Kashmir at universities in Oregon, Maryland, California, Washington DC, and New York. Nyla’s goal is to engage in reflective action as an educator working with diverse cultural and social groups questioning the exclusivity of cultural nationalism, the erosion of cultural syncretism, the ever-increasing dominance of religious fundamentalism, and the irrational resistance to cultural and linguistic differences. Nyla was recently made a member of the Advisory Council of the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women.
“The oracle neither explains nor conceals, but shows by a sign.” –Heraclitus
Bruce T. Fisher
Historian / Leader / Author
Bruce Fisher is the author of A Matter of Black and White: The Autobiography of Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher. He is an oral history researcher and served as the director of the A. Phillip Randolph Institute in Houston, as well as director of the JFK Project Area Committee in Oklahoma City. He served as assistant secretary of state for the State of Oklahoma under the administration of the Honorable Hannah Atkins. He was director of Institutional Advancement at Langston University. He is a member of the Oklahoma Centennial Commission, and added a number of important African American-related projects to the Master Plan. He is curator of Cultural Diversity at the Oklahoma Historical Society, and team leader for the development of the new African American Gallery in the Oklahoma History Center.
“Art activist” Eric Humphries has tackled such topics as AIDS awareness, evolution and war in his work – and for the last fifteen years, he has been working on a large series of paintings centering around violent episodes in history, known collectively as The Atrocities. Most recently, Humphries has finished work on a fourteen-month project detailing the events surrounding the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921. In his one-hour talk, “Art with a Purpose,” Humphries provides historical examples illustrating the power of art to effect change, even as he gives students an inside look at how his art is constructed (with attention given to key aesthetic elements and principles). He helps students “make the connection” and understand that they can use their own creativity and art to actively influence people to respect and defend human rights. (“Art with a Purpose” is appropriate for high-school students, college students and adults.) In his talk on the Tulsa Race Riot (1921), “Is the Whole World on Fire?,” Humphries uses photographs and paintings to share this important chapter in Oklahoma history with learners and motivate them to get involved politically and socially to promote respect and tolerance between people, preventing racially-motivated violence and destruction.
Hannibal B. Johnson, Esq.
Keynote Speaker / Social-Justice Leader / Author
Hannibal B. Johnson is an attorney, author, and independent consultant specializing in diversity and inclusion issues. A founding director of the Oklahoma Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, Johnson currently serves on the Oklahoma Advisory Committee for the United States Commission on Civil Rights. Johnson directed Anytown, Oklahoma, a statewide human relations camp for teens, for more than a decade and is a member of the Programs Committee for the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation. He has also served as an adjunct professor at The University of Tulsa College of Law, Oklahoma State University, and the University of Oklahoma. A prolific author, poet and playwright, he is also the recipient of numerous awards, including the “Keeping the Dream Alive” award from the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration Society and the 2006 Oklahoma Human Rights Award (from the Oklahoma Human Rights Commission). (The community and professional leadership credits listed above comprise only a fraction of those he has earned.) Johnson is available to provide keynote speeches and talks on numerous human-rights topics.
Speaker / Consultant / Trainer
Greg Pringle is a human resources and non-profit management trainer/consultant and a co-developer of the Valuing Diversity course used to train Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission’s 1500 employees. He helps organizations, educators and students value diversity by examining and understanding their own cultural values – while exploring ways in which we can all improve our cross-cultural communication skills to build better organizations and relationships. His interactive workshop, Valuing Diversity, engages participants in activities and discussions that empower them to increase their cultural competence – and help others do the same.
Clydia Forehand. PhD
Educator / Cross-Cultural Trainer & Administrator / Innovator
Dr. Clydia Forehand, director of OU’s Confucius Institute, is an educator with 20+ years experience teaching andworking across cultures. She coordinates Asian study exchanges, study tours, and professional development for Oklahoma schools and guides pedagogy of Chinese language and interdisciplinary projects for teachers. Partnered with the San Francisco Symphony’s “Keeping Score” education project, Yale University’s Symposium on Music in Schools, and the Oklahoma A+ Schools Arts Integration Network – and supported in part by the US Department of Education – Dr. Forehand researches capacity building through cultural understanding and language acquisition experiences with music and other arts. The tonal qualities of the Mandarin language and its close connection with the Chinese culture offer significant promise for this notion.