Building Bridges Between Races And Culture

Mar 23, 2015

Recorded on: March 20, 2015

Air Date: March 23, 2015

A constant in the news these days are stories of unequal policing practices and inequitable educational and employment opportunities based on race and culture. These issues have an impact on all of us in the United States, in Oregon, and in Eugene.

Johnny Lake’s life story and his work in the field make him uniquely qualified to help us understand the problem and think about solutions. He will describe things each person can do to help improve relationships across perceived boundaries. He will suggest ways to help reduce the tensions, address the disparities, and level the playing field.

Lake has lived in Oregon for almost 40 years. As an African-American, he — like many of his ancestors — has experienced discriminatory practices. Yet, his encouraging and informative life story is rich in examples of strength, resiliency, and triumph.

He was born in the small town of Bolivar, Tennessee, about 50 miles from Memphis and attended segregated schools for the first four years of his education. After the 4th grade, he was one of a few black children “voluntarily enrolled” to integrate the white school. On his first day of 5th grade, he was the only black child in his classroom. As one of the children used to begin integration in the South, Lake learned valuable lessons that continue to inform his life, work and relationships.

He graduated at the top of his class in high school and is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Willamette University with a BS in history. He earned his master’s degree and PhD in Educational Leadership at the University of Oregon.

Lake has been teaching at Northwest Christian University since 2008. While preparing his students to be teachers, he focuses on teacher-student relationships. His students learn about the impact of diversity, race, and culture on the academic performance of their students. He recently taught the first Black History class at NCU.

Lake consults with a wide variety of agencies and organizations, courts and justice systems, school districts, colleges and universities, Latino and Native American leadership groups, and churches. As an administrator on special assignment with the Eugene 4J school district, he works with teachers and students to improve leadership, communication, and student academic outcomes.

He is the former Chair of the Oregon Commission on Black Affairs and worked closely with the Commission on Latino Affairs. He is a former Education Chair for the NAACP. He received a Silver Citizenship Award, the highest civilian award, from the Sons of Revolutionary War Veterans for his community work with children and families, and also received an award from the Sons of Confederate Veterans. He received a Defender of the Children award from the Latino Community, one of his favorite awards.

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