Highlander Center Pre-Conference Workshop

Wednesday, October 18, 10:00am-4:00pm.

(Registration is required.)

Join Highlander Center for a dive into popular education, organizing, movement history and current challenges and opportunities in this workshop. Highlander Center is a popular education center in Tennessee that has been a pivotal gathering place for labor, civil rights, environmental justice, education, immigrant rights, and youth organizing throughout its 85 year history. Started in 1932, in the depths of the Depression in rural Grundy County, Highlander has focused its work in the Southern and Appalachian United States, supporting leaders and groups to come together, share ideas and strategies at the center and return back to their communities to better organize to change their situation. Join Susan Williams and Esmeralda Baltazar from the Highlander Center Education Team for a participatory workshop exploring Highlander’s history and methodologies. Participants will explore historical movements and share more about current organizing efforts in these challenging times for our education institutions, communities and society.


Susan Williams

Susan Williams has worked for over 35 years as a community organizer, a popular educator, a participatory researcher and librarian/archivist in East Tennessee.  She  organized with Save Our Cumberland Mountains and the Tennessee Industrial Renewal Network, and now works on the Education Team at Highlander Research and Education Center in Tennessee, focusing on a new Economics and Governance curriculum for communities.    She coordinates Highlander’s library, bookstore and archive and is a 2012 graduate of the University of Tennessee School of Information Sciences Masters program.



Pre-Conference Happy Hour at Millennium Hotel Bar

Wednesday, October 18, 5:30-9:00.

We can’t wait to see you!  Join us at an informal meet-and-greet with the conference planning committee and conference attendees.  Conference registration will be open.  Cash bar and menu with happy hour prices.


Networking Cocktail Hour (for paid conference participants only — see conference program for details)

Evening Performance: “The Prison Story Project : On the Row”

… with a post-performance discussion facilitated by David Jolliffe

Thursday, October 19, Glenn Miller Ballroom
Doors at 5:00; Performance at 5:30-6:30; Q&A 6:30-6:45


On the Row

THE PRISON STORY PROJECT: ON THE ROW is a production of the Northwest Arkansas Prison Story Project, which since 2011 has been sending teams of writers into prisons, leading writing workshops with the inmates, and then developing readers’ theatre scripts that are performed by professional actors both for the inmates who write the material and for public audiences. In the summer of 2016, the Prison Story Project undertook its most challenging initiative: eight inmates housed on Arkansas’ Death Row met with Prison Story Project workshop leaders one Saturday a month from May through September to read and discuss imaginative literature and write in response to issues, themes, and problems raised by it. ON THE ROW, the 70-minute script generated by the initiative, was performed on Death Row for the writers on October 8 and subsequently presented to large, enthusiastic public audiences in the weeks and months following the initial performance.

Version 2

David Jolliffe is the initial holder of the Brown Chair in English Literacy at the University of Arkansas, where he is also Professor of English in the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences and, by courtesy, Professor of Curriculum and Instruction in the College of Education and Health Professions.

Prior to coming to Arkansas, Jolliffe was Director of Composition at the University of Illinois at Chicago from 1987 to 1994 and then Director of Writing Programs and Director of the First-Year Program at DePaul University, where he taught from 1994 through 2005. He has been a member of the executive committee of both the Council of Writing Program Administrators and the Conference on College Composition and Communication.

A long-standing actor and director, Jolliffe creates many of his community literacy outreach projects by emphasizing the power of performance to teach the world of the word. With the Classical Edge Theatre Company, which he helped to found in 2011, Jolliffe sends teams of actors into schools throughout Arkansas to perform scenes from Shakespeare and lead workshops. Most recently, he has joined the Northwest Arkansas Prison Story Project, for which he helped to run writing workshops for inmates housed on Arkansas’ Death Row in the summer of 2016. Beginning in October 2016, Jolliffe portrayed a role in the readers’ theatre performance of ON THE ROW, the production developed solely from the writing produced by the Death Row inmates.

The author or editor of several books on literacy in communities, rhetorical theory, and the professional preparation of writing instructors, his most recent publication is The Arkansas Delta Oral History Project: Culture, Place, and Authenticity, co-authored with Christian Z. Goering, Krista Jones Oldham, and James A. Anderson Jr. and published by Syracuse University Press.


This event is sponsored by The Brown Chair of English Literacy at the University of Arkansas

and by

The CU-Boulder Office for Outreach and Engagement:

PHD to Ph.D.: How Education Saved My Life

Elaine Richardson’s One-woman Performance 

Friday, October 20, Glenn Miller Ballroom
Doors 5:00; Performance 5:15-6:30

Addicted to drugs, abusive controlling pimps, the streets, short stints in jail, the cycle of death that was her life, and on top of that, pregnant AGAIN.  It was the end. The only way out was death or prison, but that wasn’t her fate.  Instead, she went to school… and never stopped.  On her journey, she became empowered with knowledge of her culture and history. Today, Dr. Elaine Richardson shares her story of sexual exploitation and other forms of bondage to bring awareness to the plight of those entrapped in urban domestic human trafficking, and to promote healing and empowerment through education.


Dr. Elaine Richardson
Professor of Literacy Studies, The Ohio State University

Cleveland, Ohio native, Dr. Elaine Richardson is currently Professor of Literacy Studies at The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, where she teaches in the Department of Teaching and Learning. Her research interests include the liberation and critical literacy education of people of the Black African Diaspora.  Her books include African American Literacies, (2003, Routledge), focusing on teaching writing from the point of view of African American Language and Literacy traditions; Hiphop Literacies (2006 Routledge) is a study of Hiphop language use as an extension of Black folk traditions.  Her urban education memoir, PHD (Po H# on Dope) to PhDHow Education Saved My Life, (2013, New City Community Press) chronicles her life from drugs and the street life to award-winning scholar, university professor, and art activist.  Richardson has also co-edited two volumes on African American rhetorical theory, Understanding African American Rhetoric: Classical Origins to Contemporary Innovations (2003, Routledge) and African American Rhetoric(s): Interdisciplinary Perspectives (2004, Southern Illinois University Press), and one volume on Hiphop Feminism—Home Girls Make Some Noise (2007, Parker Publishing).

Among her many awards, in 2004, she was Fulbright lecturing/researcher in the department of Literatures in English at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica; Who’s Who Columbus 2013, 2014, 2015; National Council of Negro Women, Community Service Award, 2012; Outstanding Woman of Columbus, 2011; Cleveland State University Distinguished Alumni, 2007, and more.  She serves as Co-Chair of the Black Caucus for the The Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC).

Dr. Richardson is the founder of The Ohio State University Hiphop Literacies Conference, as well as the nascent non-profit Education Foundation for Freedom, focusing on educational empowerment of women and girls.  Richardson, aka Dr. E is also a recording artist and performer, using her voice on behalf of those who may be down, but not out!  Of her urban education memoir, PHD to Ph.D.: How Education Saved My Life, Professor Ted Lardner writes: “If Zora Neale Hurston had a god-daughter, she could be Elaine Richardson:  on so many paths, she comes to these pages a deep student of life–the one who studies it up close, unguarded, and, with a musician’s ear for the song that lives in all of her experience, brings home its truths in their fearsome and freeing power. This book, like the life it describes, is a work of spirit Richardson records for us, another way to talk to, and talk about, God.”  For more on Dr. E visit:

Funded in part by the (IMPART) Implementation of Multicultural Perspectives and Approaches in Research and Teaching) Awards Program at the University of Colorado Boulder

and by

The CU-Boulder Office for Outreach and Engagement:

Why We Strive

Facilitated Closing Plenary & Performance, with Playback Theatre West

Saturday, October 21, 4:00-5:30.


Based on Theater of the Oppressed, Playback Theatre is founded upon the idea that stories shape our lives and build community. For nearly 30 years, the professional actors and musicians of Playback Theatre West have used this form to facilitate both personal and community sharing, healing, and growth. Audience members share a story from their lives and professional improvisers turn them into art, on the spot.


This unique and interactive closing event will allow us to bring together participants from across the conference, to explore shared themes and/or forge connections between our work, our current/future challenges, and our shared visions. Playback’s fluidly dynamic, embodied forms invite us to visualize more clearly the ways in which the dynamics behind our conference themes write themselves upon the world and affect us as whole persons and interrelating communities.


In this facilitated closing plenary, conference participants will be invited to share moments or insights from the conference, our lives, and our work – which will be “translated” into professional theater, movement, and song, in the moment and on the spot.


More about Playback Theatre West & its members @