Filmmaker, lecturer and social justice activist Shakti Butler delivered the keynote address at Wesleyan’s Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration on Feb. 1. “Diversity University: From Theory to Practice,” was the theme of this year’s daylong commemoration.
Butler is the founder of World Trust Services, a nonprofit organization that produces programs and seminars to create new understandings.
Butler is a multiracial African-American woman with African, Arawak Indian and Russian-Jewish heritage. She is the producer and director of four groundbreaking documentaries, including “Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity,” which uses story, theater and music to illuminate the larger frame of structural/systemic racial inequity. Butler showed “Cracking the Codes” during her visit at Wesleyan.
“You’re born into a system that you didn’t create. To you, you’re living in a world that’s normal,” Butler said. “We need to understand that oppression is a system and it’s our role to create a system in which everyone can survive.”
For more than a decade Wesleyan has celebrated the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. The celebration has taken various forms including prominent keynote speakers such as Johnetta Cole and Sonia Sanchez to a campus-based program where members of the faculty, staff and students read portions of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.