Frank M. White was the presenter for the 2016 Bartling Lecture. He is the author of the book They Played for the Love of the Game. White enjoyed playing baseball as a child and was unaware that his father played baseball for a team during the time that baseball was segregated. When White learned about this side of his father, it spiked his interest in learning more about that era in baseball. White has since gathered information on various colored teams that were from Minnesota and is sharing it in his lectures. He listed several teams, such as the Saint Paul Colored Gophers, and he shared several players. The majority of the players were unknown to many people listening to the lecture. White wants to share their stories out of respect for them.
White has gathered many stories and pictures from around the 1920s. He has talked to many people and presented their accounts during presentations. Through gathering this information, his world view has shifted. He said that when he was around college-aged that he believed the world was all about him. He has since been surrounded by people with different experiences and has learned that the world is not all about him. This change in mindset would influence how he perceives other people and knowledge that he gathers.
I found this lecture to be very informative. It showed me the importance of learning about our past and sharing it with others. When we look back, we have the opportunity to learn from others mistakes. We have the chance to move forward. I had always known that this was a way history could help us, but it never truly connected in my brain until listening to White speak today. He said throughout the presentation that he was sharing the stories of segregated baseball teams so that we could move away from that state-of-mind. This helped clarify the use of history as a lesson in what to do/not to do because White was speaking from the perspective of someone that was closely associated with the topic.
Kao Kalia Yang began her lecture with the thing that comes most naturally to her, storytelling. She explained how losing her grandmother and learning how to express herself led her to a career in writing. Her first book, The Late Homecomer, was written in a way that the reader would fall in love with her grandmother and then at the end feel her tears as her grandmother passed away. Yang described how loss and struggles helped inspire her next book, The Song Poet, which she wrote following a miscarriage. She used this book as an expression of her grief and also as a tribute to the second album her father never got to create. As she opened the floor for questions, the topics ranged from being a regional writer to the gap between generations of Hmong people. She described the heaviness in her heart when she sees young Hmong people unsure of where they fit into the world. She told of how she only send books to publishers when they allow her to grow in knowledge of herself or of others’ views. She said that she uses her writing to “reckon with reality.” She encouraged the audience to give their all daily and to build hope. Her last, stressed point was that she listens. She listens because words fail to help and listening is sometimes all a person can do.
Yang’s lecture fits into the emotional and artistic ways of knowing. She allows her feelings to flow freely from her heart to the page. She uses writing as a way to convey her honest emotions about the events that happen in her life. She compared herself to an artist when she talked about building connections and relationships with people. Without interpersonal connections, an artist’s work would never gain momentum, which is true about books too. The fact that people are the deciding factor of a book’s popularity means that for a book to grow in status, it must touch the reader. Reading can help people process their feelings and grow in their ways of knowing. Yang’s writings allow for personal growth through introspection and lyrical or rhythmic expression of her world view. They also allow the reader to reflect and grow in their own views.
I found Yang’s lecture very inspiring. She was very raw and honest with the audience, which can be lost when the speech is prewritten. Her statement about what a leader is(it was along the lines of: A leader is someone who lives their life that people will voluntarily follow.) was really impactful to me. In the past, I have been pressured to be a “good leader” and asked to fulfill leadership positions. I never really understood what a good leader was. I knew when a person was a good leader, but I could not pin down what the common quality between all of the great leaders I had known was. Yang explained what I could not. That a leader sets an example just by living their life to the best of their abilities. Leaders give their all to life and inspire others. This realization is one that I know I will remember for years and maybe for life.