Monday Aug. 26 from 6 to 8 p.m., the Guthrie Public Library and Oklahoma Humanities are hosting “Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma.” This Book Club event will continue their series of Myth and Literature with “Black Elk Speaks” by John G. Neihardt. The Oklahoma Humanities Scholar speaker is Dr. Nyla Ali Khan who speaks at libraries and women’s correctional facilities all over the state.
This will be the second event featuring Dr. Khan at the Guthrie Library this year and she’s looking forward to returning. Since her last visit, Dr. Khan was appointed Commissioner of the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Woman by the Senator Pro Tempore of the Oklahoma Senate.
“This time I am here to give a talk on a very different book, which is about Native American culture, the revival, the resuscitation,” Dr. Khan said. “Basically, I’m going as an Oklahoma Humanities Scholar and I enjoy speaking with diverse groups of people...At these public libraries, I interact with audiences from all over. I’ve been to quite a few rural areas and I enjoy that because it allows me to immerse myself in the local culture, to learn more about the diversity in Oklahoma and to talk with rural audiences about global issues, which is a lot of fun. In the process, I learn from them as well. It’s very interesting for me to hear their perspectives,” Dr. Khan said.
The experiences Dr. Khan gains from these speaking engagements has allowed her to not only meet more diverse audiences but connect to them as well.
“People on the coasts don’t realize how important the heartland of the country is. The heartland really calls the shots when it comes to politics, not just state politics, but national politics as well. I think it’s important to interact with people in the heartland to learn more about what they’re going through, to learn more about their perspectives and it helps me become a more empathetic communicator. I go to these [events] not with an attitude of condescension but with the attitude that I can learn something from these people whose life experiences are so different from mine,” Dr. Khan said.
Dr. Khan was recognized at the OK State Capitol for her human rights work in 2017 and honored by the Oklahoma League of Women Voters as one of the 100 Trailblazers for 2018. She was recently awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award & Silver Medal for her national public speaking and her bridge building work at the community and grassroots level in the state of Oklahoma.