For Immediate Release—Monday, Jan. 28, 2008

Tony Hoppa
Assistant Vice President for Communications
(585) 245-5516

Dave Dennis to Speak at SUNY Geneseo Jan. 31

Former Freedom Rider keynotes Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration

GENESEO, N.Y.—The State University of New York at Geneseo will hear former Freedom Rider Dave Dennis discuss his 1960s civil rights activism and its relevance to current events during a keynote address scheduled for 7 p.m. on Jan. 31 in the MacVittie College Union Ballroom. His talk, titled "Quality Education as a Constitutional Right for All Children," is part of the College's ongoing commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.

Dennis will compare the struggle with the right to vote to the present civil rights struggle revolving around education. He will explore how the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act were used to minimize the gains of the Civil Rights Struggle. In addition, Dennis will take a brief look at how Hurricane Katrina exposed the powerlessness of people of color.

In 1961, Dennis participated in the first freedom bus ride from Montgomery, Ala. to Jackson, Miss. He later served co-director of the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) in Mississippi, which organized activists for a voter registration drive during the 1964 "Freedom Summer." He also was the Mississippi director of the Congress of Racial Equality.

Today, Dennis serves as founder/director and chief executive office of the Southern Initiative of the Algebra Project, Inc., a national, nonprofit organization that uses mathematics as an organizing tool to ensure quality public school education for every child in America.

"Geneseo is fortunate to have Dave Dennis give the keynote lecture for the Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration," said Emilye Crosby, associate professor of history.  "Throughout his life, Dennis has acted on behalf of racial and economic justice and, in his current work with the Algebra Project and for educational equity, he illustrates the connections between the 1960s Civil Rights Movement and some of the most significant issues facing our country today. As someone who has acted for social justice for more than 40 years, he offers an important model for our community."

Dennis holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of Michigan Law School and Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees from Dillard University. He has provided commentary for numerous documentaries and national television news shows, in addition to being cited in a wide range of books and publications regarding the Civil Rights Movement.

His presentation is sponsored by SUNY Geneseo's Multicultural Programs and Services, the Division of Student and Campus Life and the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Committee.

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