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Guest speaker Dr. Frank E. Dobson comes to Vol State

Last updated on March 9, 2019

By Gloria Cortes

The Volunteer State Community College Office of Diversity and Inclusion hosted Rendered Invisible, featuring Dr. Frank E. Dobson Jr., in the Mary Cole Nichols Dining Room B Wednesday Feb. 13, from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., in honor of Black History Month.

Guest speaker Dobson from Vanderbilt University spoke about his book Rendered Invisible, which is a historical fiction novel that tells the story of a murderer who killed multiple black men in the 1970s and 80s: the Calliber Killer.

“My reason for writing [Rendered Invisible] was to tell a story- a historical story- that hadn’t been told before, that needed to be told…. My book is about an instance of a racially-motivated killing spree that didn’t get the attention [it needed], almost as though the people who were victimized were not important. My story says they were important, their lives were important, their lives matter too,” said Dobson.

Photo by Gloria Cortes
Photo by Gloria Cortes
Dobson said he believes the book’s message is still relevant today.

Dobson said, “I want us to grapple with the question: how do those of us who are fighting for justice also make sure that in fighting for justice we are not alienating people who could be allies? We all bleed, we all breathe, we all drink water- whatever. How do we separate the personal from the political in a way that we can move forward as a nation?”

During the event he gave the novel’s historical context, showed an interview of himself, and had a question-and-answer period with the audience.

Office of Diversity and Inclusion administrative assistant Lori Miller said that about 45 people attended the event.

Food and drinks were provided, and the event was open to the public.

Six copies of Rendered Invisible were given away in a raffle.

Some classes use this book for reading material.

English professor Kelly Ormsby said she uses a chapter from Rendered Invisible in her class, Introduction to Literature.

Along with a couple other teachers, she said they brought their classes to the event because meeting the author for a work they were reading would be a good experience for their students.
In order for students to get the best possible experience from reading his book, he said he recommends having the reader personalize the story.

Dobson said, “Think about, ‘How does this apply to me in my life? What have I done, experienced or seen that makes me empathize with this story?’”

Dobson has spoken at previous events at Vol State and is working with Office of Diversity and Inclusion manager Jeff King to schedule an event in March.

Along with a couple other teachers, she said they brought their classes to the event because meeting the author for a work they were reading would be a good experience for their students.
In order for students to get the best possible experience from reading his book, he said he recommends having the reader personalize the story.

Dobson said, “Think about, ‘How does this apply to me in my life? What have I done, experienced or seen that makes me empathize with this story?’”

Dobson has spoken at previous events at Vol State and is working with Office of Diversity and Inclusion manager Jeff King to schedule an event in March.

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