Activist, journalist Jose Antonio Vargas to give 2019 Kenneth A. Spencer Lecture for The Commons

Thursday, October 11, 2018

LAWRENCE — Award-winning journalist and filmmaker Jose Antonio Vargas will deliver the Kenneth A. Spencer Lecture for The Commons at 7 p.m. Jan. 24 at Liberty Hall. Vargas’ presentation will focus on his work with undocumented immigrants in the United States featured in his recent book, “Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen” (HarperCollins, 2018).

A leading voice for the rights of immigrants, Vargas produced and directed “Documented,” a documentary feature film based on his own undocumented experience, which earned a 2015 NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Documentary. That year, he also created “White People,” a television special about what it means to be young and white in the United States, for MTV. It was nominated for an Emmy.

Vargas is the founder and CEO of Define American, the nation’s leading nonprofit media and culture organization that fights injustice and anti-immigrant hate through the power of storytelling. As an avid supporter of the role of arts in society and a consistent force for promoting equity in education, he also serves on the advisory board of TheDream.US, a scholarship fund for undocumented immigrant students.

Vargas earned a bachelor’s degree from San Francisco State University in 2004, and in 2012 he was named Alumnus of the Year.

In anticipation of this event, The Commons will host events surrounding this lecture that give the community an opportunity to become more familiar with Vargas’ work across media.

The Kenneth A. Spencer Lecture is hosted by The Commons annually to invite seminal figures whose work applies across disciplines to address the campus and regional community. In recent years, the lecture series has featured poet/sociologist/educator Eve Ewing, architectural biologist Jessica Green, comedian Andy Borowitz, writer/activist Margaret Atwood and writer/historian Rebecca Solnit.

Tickets are free but required, and they may be obtained via thecommons.ku.edu or Liberty Hall. The event is open to the public. Books will be available for sale on site by the Raven Bookstore.

Anyone needing special accommodations may contact The Commons staff for assistance.