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Letters from Anne and Martin inspires commitment to social justice

January 26, 2017

"Every day, we have the opportunity to change the world," said Steven Goldstein, executive director of The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect. He was addressing a rapt audience of well over 200 people who turned out for Ursuline College's annual Martin Luther King, Jr. observance on Jan. 24.

This year, the event included “Letters from Anne and Martin,” a theatrical presentation by professional actors from the Anne Frank Center; an enlightening panel discussion; and uplifting vocal performances by the Cleveland Heights High School A Capella Choir, under the direction of Jesse Lange.

The theatrical performance featured professional actors Wesli Spence (King) enacting portions of the "Letter from Birmingham Jail" and Alexandra Gellner (Anne) enacting portions of "Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl.” Both actors from the Anne Frank Center brought their characters to life with passion, as their alternating voices illustrated the parallels in the thinking, faith and life experience of King and Anne Frank, both born in 1929.
The panel discussion, moderated by Goldstein, featured the two actors plus Fern Levy, educator, journalist, founder and director of the Anne Frank Moral Courage Project, and Dr. Julian Earls, retired head of NASA Glenn Research Center, current executive in residence at Cleveland State University, and lifelong civil rights advocate.

"They were both utopian thinkers in a dystopian time," Levy said of the two icons of social justice. "They were both fighting for a better world."

This free, public event, was sponsored by the Ursuline College Office of Inclusion, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs, led by Tina Roan Lining, assistant dean of inclusion and equity. Also sponsoring the performance were the Anne Frank Moral Courage Project and the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage. Financial support for this event came from Albert and Audrey Ratner, the Riverbend Fund, the Sisters of Charity Foundation, Third Federal Foundation and the residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture.

View images and an article by Plain Dealer photojournalist Lisa DeJong, click here.
View Ursuline's Flickr album of images here
To read Levy's Jan. 16, 2015 Plain Dealer article on the parallels between Anne Frank and Dr. King, click here.

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