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“Crossroads” is the topic for the 37th Annual Casper College Humanities Festival and Demorest Lecture Feb. 22-26.

The festival will begin Tuesday, Feb. 22, with the Goodstein Foundation Library’s “Living Library at 9:30 a.m. The Living Library will allow participants to borrow a person and have a conversation about “their” story. The purpose of the Living Library is to promote conversation, encourage understanding, and foster a culture of inclusivity. The event includes short sessions with presenters and time for questions.

The Wheeler Concert Hall in the Music Building will host the rest of Tuesday’s events, beginning with a presentation at noon from one of this year’s Demorest Keynote Speakers, Dr. Dena Bravata. Bravata, a Casper native and graduate of Kelly Walsh High School, is an adviser/consultant to numerous digital health and public health organizations. In her presentation, “Healthcare and the Workplace: Managing Change in the Face of Pandemics, Parenthood, and Poverty,” Bravata will look at how the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the U.S. workplace from how we work safely together to how we work productively at home.

At 1 p.m. Casper native Patricia McInroy will introduce her documentary “Invisible Wyoming” before its screening and then will follow with a Q&A with attendees.

The “Casper Freedom Trail” is the topic at 2 p.m. and will feature an introduction by Allison Maluchnik. The “Casper Freedom Trail” is a virtual tour of historic sites supported by oral accounts of Casper’s Black history.

The day will end at 5 p.m. with an evening book club via Zoom as participants discuss “Democracy Under Construction.” The Zoom event is facilitated by the Natrona County Library and moderated by Alaina Stedillie Hall. Those interested in participating can connect to Zoom.

The Wheeler Concert Hall will be the site for the Wednesday, Feb. 23 presentations beginning at 9 a.m. with Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. Dunbar-Ortiz’s presentation, “An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States,” will look at the history of the United States as “ … a history of settler colonialism.” The speaker will join attendees remotely.

At 10 a.m. Nina McConigley will join Matthew Spangler, Ph.D., who will look at McConigley’s award-winning story collection “Cowboys and East Indians,” winner of the Pen Open Book Award, which depicts South Asian immigrant experiences in Wyoming. She was born in Singapore and grew up in Casper, Wyoming. Spangler, a graduate of Natrona County High School, is an award-winning playwright, professor of performance studies, and interim chair of the Film and Theatre Department at San José State University in California.

“The Black 14” will take place at 11 a.m. The Black 14 set the foundation for political activism and sports decades ago in Wyoming. The Black 14 have been featured for their courage and call to action displays against discrimination by CBS Sports, CNN, ESPN, Public Broadcasting Service, Sports Center, Sports Illustrated, USA Today, The Washington Post, and others. In this session, the speakers will join attendees remotely.

The second Demorest Keynote Speaker, Tracey Owens Patton, Ph.D., will present “Familial Crossroads: Race, Rejection, and Reunion in Post-WWII Germany.” “There is a sense that WWII represented a seminal moment in racial thought and … transformative in the role of race-thinking by state agencies and popular institutions, particularly in the U.S.,” said Owens Patton. Her research challenges this assumption as she shares a portion of her upcoming second book involving race, memory, rejection, and World War II.

The day will conclude at 2 p.m. with “La Radio Montañesa: Voz de la Gente” by Connie Coca, radio station co-founder of KOCA, the only nonprofit, bilingual radio station in Wyoming and the only Spanish-English station in Wyoming.

On Thursday, Feb. 25, five presentations will take place in the Wheeler Concert Hall, beginning at 9:30 a.m. with Todd Guenther, who will offer “The Greatest Negro Cattle Rancher in all the West.” Guenther’s presentation will provide an overview of some of the lives, experiences, and historical significance of African Americans during the early days of community building in Wyoming.

At 10:30 a.m. Nicole Crawford and Darrell Jackson will speak on “Stealing Culture: The Intersection of Criminal Law and Museums.” Crawford is the director and chief curator of the University of Wyoming Art Museum, while Jackson is a UW College of Law professor. The two will look at questions of law, ethics, and culture relevant to museum collections.

Jennifer Pepple, the third Demorest Keynote Speaker, will share how travel encourages individual growth through the soul of a destination while art captures the spirit of a place. The session will also look at challenges the travel industry faces, including over-tourism, animal tourism, and environmental impacts. Pepple’s talk will begin at noon.

Immediately following Pepple, Miguel Espinoza on guitar and Dianne Betkowski on cello will perform original music that exemplifies the confluence of many musical and cultural influences. The duo is part of the Miguel Espinoza Flamenco Fusion quartet.

Michelle Nijhuis, author of the book “Beloved Beasts: Fighting for Life in an Age of Extinction,” will discuss the history and future of the modern conservation movement, focusing on conservation in the Intermountain West. In this session, she will join attendees remotely.

A reception titled “Crossroads,” a Museum on Main Street exhibition on loan through the Smithsonian and facilitated and sponsored by Wyoming Humanities, will occur at the Nicolaysen Art Museum beginning at 5 p.m.

The day will be capped off with the dance concert “Shadowed Winds and Ghost Roads” on the Mick and Susie McMurry Mainstage in the Gertrude Krampert Theatre. Through the spoken word of a narrator and the intertwining of dance, theater, and multimedia elements, the performers will guide audiences through the intersectionality of place and time in this original production conceived, choreographed, and directed by Aaron M. Wood, Casper College dance instructor. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for those aged 5 through 18.

The one final event will take place at the Natrona County Library beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 26. The free event will feature pizza, a movie, and a craft project following the movie.

Additional presentation information, presenter bios, and links for Zoom connections can be found at the Casper College Humanities Festival website or by calling 307-268-2606.

Continuing education units or PTSB credits are also available for attendees. For more information, contact Sarah Schneider, workforce training specialist, at 307-268-3847 or

Except for the Nicolaysen Art Museum and the Natrona County Library, all other venues are on the Casper College campus.

Casper College and the Wyoming Humanities Council are partners in presenting the Humanities Festival along with major funding from the Casper College Foundation and the Margaret Demorest Endowment. Other sponsors include the Goodstein Foundation Library, the University of Wyoming at Casper, Eric Unruh, the Casper College School of Fine Arts and Humanities dean, and the Casper College Visual Arts Department Galleries.

Media contact: Lisa S. Icenogle

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