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Diversity expert Lewis Diuguid speaks at Brookfield Zoo on Jan. 19, 2009.

"The Currency of Conversations"
The 2009 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day event at Brookfield Zoo featured Lewis Diuguid, Vice President for Community Resources at the Kansas City Star and certified diversity facilitator. Hosted by the Arcoiris team at Brookfield Zoo, CZS welcomed Diuguid as for a public presentation and follow-up diversity workshops for staff.

A journalist for 30 years and involved in the newspaper’s diversity initiative since 1993, Diuguid's column focuses on diversity and other community issues. He is the author of "A Teacher's Cry: Expose the Truth About Education Today," and most recent book, "Discovering the Real America: Toward a More Perfect Union," offers solutions to discovering the richness in America through diversity of its people in spite of the obstacles of privilege, racism and discrimination.

His presentation at Brookfield Zoo's Discovery Center was entitled “What Would Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Think Of Barack Obama, Diversity And America Now?" Diuguid spoke on a wide range of topics and leaders, focusing on the power of diversity as a positive force for social and economic change.

Download the transcript of the entire speech here.

Click here for another video clip from Lewis Diuguid speech.

Excerpt from beginning of speech:

"I love zoos. I have loved zoos all of my life. I love the diversity of species, which zoos offer to visitors. But to me zoos also are a lot like libraries. Each releases us from our financial, spiritual and earthly limitations. Each allows us to visit places, see things and both imagine and visualize possibilities that even our wildest dreams couldn’t touch without the bottled magic that zoos and libraries provide to those who are adventurous enough to enter. I think that wonderful sensation is partly because each connects us with people who dared to dream and accomplish the impossible. These great human beings went to far off places and captured the diversity in species and different ideas, and they brought them back to share with us. How cool is that?

"Today, we celebrate the birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. He would have been 80 years old on Jan. 15 – his actual birthday – if he had not been assassinated on April 4, 1968, at the Loraine Motel in Memphis. Dr. King was a lot like the people who have helped to make libraries and zoos possible. He dared to go to the unheard of place called the great continent of true American ideals and capture the dream of equality, the dream of opportunity for all, the dream of freedom and liberty for everyone regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, age or socio-economic status, and the dream of an unbridled love for diversity. Dr. King knew that diversity is life’s third rail. It is a phenomenal power source like that which powers many mass transit systems. It emboldens us with the confidence to communicate with people who are different from us. That helps us to be better at work, in our communities, where we are civically engaged and where we worship. That is some phenomenal stuff. Diversity also powers up our sense of hope, sense of faith and sense of trust in ourselves and in others. It strengthens our sense of togetherness and our sense of community. It drives us toward reciprocity – a feeling of I’ll scratch your back if you will scratch mine later – and diversity gives us an irrepressible knowledge that each of us is our brother’s keeper regardless of age, gender, race, sexual orientation, faith or disability. That was all built into Dr. King’s dream."

-Lewis Diuguid (Jan. 19, 2009 at Brookfield Zoo)

(from left) Arcoiris member Karin Schwartz,
presenter Lewis Diuguid, CZS President
Stuart Strahl, and CZS VP of Community
Affairs Jo-Elle Mogerman.

Download the transcript of the entire speech here.