Dr. J. Drew Lanham delivers keynote address as part of UM Lecture series

Published 3:03 pm Monday, November 6, 2023

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By BARTON PERKINS | Staff Writer

MONTEVALLO – The University of Montevallo welcomed Dr. J. Drew Lanham on Thursday, Nov. 2, for the third annual lecture of the Dr. Wilson Fallin Jr. Lecture Series.

“The Dr. Fallin Jr. Lecture series was established by the University of Montevallo’s Black Heritage committee in the spring of 2021,” said Dr. Gregory Samuels, chief diversity and inclusion officer and associate professor of Secondary education. “In recognition of Dr. Fallin’s lifelong efforts teaching the true reflective history of African Americans and leading social justice initiatives throughout Alabama and the Deep South.”

The lecture series highlights educational and sociocultural topics related to African-American heritage, social justice and racial justice. Past speakers have included individuals such as Dr. Bernice King.

Nov. 2’s speaker, Dr. J. Drew Lanham, is an American author, poet, wildlife biologist and a 2022 recipient of the McArthur Genius Award for his work combining conservation science with personal, historical  and cultural narratives of nature.

Lanham has published many essays and books, including a memoir titled ‘The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature,” that explore the concepts of naturalism and conservation through the lens of ethnicity, race and history.

Having spent the day at the University of Montevallo guest lecturing students and touring the land surrounding the university’s local wildlife at Ebenezer Swamp, Lanham delivered a keynote address in lyrical prose. 

Lanham talked about his love of birdwatching, the importance of biodiversity and the need for greater conservation efforts across the nation. After Landham’s address concluded, he answered questions from the audience and displayed his skill in birdcalls.

Upon the end of Landham’s time on stage, UM faculty shared a drone video taken from above the University meant to simulate a ‘bird’s eye view of campus.’

This was in turn followed by a reception in the lobby of UM’s Song Arts Center, which included a book signing by Lanham and the chance for guests to meet and talk with him in a more intimate setting. The event ultimately concluded at 7 p.m. and was attended by roughly 100 participants.