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Acclaimed civil rights activist to speak in East Lansing

‘An Evening with Joanne Bland’ scheduled for Feb. 11

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THURSDAY, Feb. 6 — Civil rights activist Joanne Bland is coming to East Lansing.

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Mid-Michigan will host “An Evening with Joanne Bland” from 6-7 p.m. on Tuesday at East Lansing’s Hannah Community Center. The public is invited to attend as Bland recounts the story of her and her family’s involvement in the civil rights movement dating back to the ’60s.

“Joanne’s story of her family’s involvement in the civil rights movement is incredibly fascinating and moving,” said Elaine Hardy, MLK Commission chair. “We’re excited to share it with others in Mid-Michigan.”

Bland is believed to be among the youngest involved in all three 1965 Selma marches that advocated for voting rights: Bloody Sunday, Turn Around Tuesday and the first leg of the successful march from Selma to Montgomery. By the time she was 11 years old, she had already been arrested 13 times, officials said.

She is also one of the seven black students who integrated A.G. Parish High School in Selma. And her involvement in the civil rights movement led her to help create the National Voting Rights Museum.

Tickets are free — although organizers suggest a $10 donation — and must be picked up at the Hannah Center before the program. Bland will also speak at the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce Economic Club luncheon earlier that day, all to commemorate the 55th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

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