Staff profiles: Sandy Kilbourn
Not everyone has the opportunity to talk one-on-one with 1960s civil rights leaders — but Sandy Kilbourn has.
Kilbourn is the executive director for External Programs in the College of Osteopathic Medicine.
"External Programs is responsible for a lot of the relationship-building for the college, the things that we do that are external to the college that bring attention and visibility to the college," she said.
Kilbourn oversees the offices of Alumni Programs, Continuing Medical Education, Graphic Design and Photography, Government Relations and Public Relations. She also oversees the college’s publications and website, educates legislators on relevant issues, organizes alumni reunions and interacts with media to share stories about the good work being done at the college.
"(That's) what my formal role is, but my interest, my passion that really doesn't have anything to do with my title, is in diversity activities," she said.
Kilbourn has been organizing the "Slavery to Freedom: An American Odyssey" series in the College of Osteopathic Medicine since it began 12 years ago.
With the help of William Anderson, a clinical faculty member in the college and a civil rights activist who was involved in the Albany movement in the 1960s, the college has been able to connect with and bring a number of civil rights activists to campus to speak and teach.
"It started out as a college event, and it has evolved now, really, into a Michigan State University and Greater Lansing community event," Kilbourn said.
The series takes place on Thursdays in February. Speakers do a major public presentation but also take time to teach students.
"They get into classrooms and teach undergraduate students about what their lives have been about, why they are passionate about civil rights, why they put their lives on the line," Kilbourn said.
Frederick D. Haynes III, senior pastor at Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas, presented Feb. 2, and was the first speaker in this year's series. While he had been too young to participate in the civil rights movement, he is known for his work against racial, social and economic injustice and has grown his church from 500 members to more than 12,000.
Diane Nash, a key player in the Nashville sit-in movement and a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, will speak Feb. 16. Nash was instrumental in the Birmingham desegregation campaign of 1963 and the Selma Voting Rights Campaign of 1965. She was also a Freedom Rider and was featured recently in "Freedom Riders," a PBS documentary.
Julian Bond, who will present Feb. 23, was also a leader in SNCC, as well as chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1965, where he was repeatedly prevented from taking his seat by other members and was reseated only after a unanimous decision of the U.S. Supreme Court.
"To hear these guest speakers teach that history to MSU students and to watch the light bulbs go off is an amazing experience that I will cherish forever," Kilbourn said. "It's definitely something that I want to consider as part of my legacy here at Michigan State University."