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Jane Elliott, the creator of the "Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes" exercise that illustrates prejudice and bigotry based upon purely arbitrary factors, will speak March 10 [WEDNESDAY] at East Central University.

Elliott will present the second annual Louise Young Diversity Lecture at 7 p.m. in the Ataloa Theatre in the Hallie Brown Ford Center. She will discuss "A Collar in My Pocket -- the Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes Exercise." The lecture is free and open to the public.

Photo of Jane ElliottShe also will facilitate a training exercise from 9 a.m. until 10:50 a.m. in the Regents Room in Knight Hall which is targeted at education majors and others in the helping professions. The free training, "The Anatomy of Prejudice," is open to the public, but attendees are asked to call 580-559-5640 to reserve their places.

In the afternoon, Elliott will speak to a junior-level sociology class taught by Dr. Marc Petrowsky.

The internationally known teacher, lecturer and diversity trainer devised the controversial and startling "Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes" exercise for her all-white 3rd grade students after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.

Because they did not understand the hate behind King's murder, Elliott designed the exercise to mimic racial discrimination in order to show her students what it felt like to be in a minority group. It labels participants as inferior or superior based solely upon the color of their eyes and exposes them to the experience of being a minority.

Participants designated as "blue eyes" are identified as the inferior group. Negative stereotypes that ordinarily are applied to people of color are applied to the Blues while the Browns show discriminatory treatment to them. Children quickly internalize their roles and begin to hate people in the other group.

Elliott, a recipient of the National Mental Health Association Award for Excellence in Education, retired in the 1980s to become a diversity trainer. Her conclusion from more than 40 years of performing her exercise is that "discrimination and its effects are the same no matter where you find them" and that "what is distressing is that I get the same results today with adults that I got using the exercise with children in 1968."

More information about Elliott can be found on her website at

The Louise Young Diversity Lecture was established through the ECU Foundation Inc. in 2009. Young, a 1965 graduate of Ada High School, graduated from ECU in 1969 with a degree in geography and earned a master's degree at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

She and her partner, Vivienne Armstrong, moved back to Ada from 1970 to 1974 when Young taught geography at ECU and Armstrong earned her nursing degree. For the last 30 years Young has worked in the defense industry and is currently a senior software engineer at Raytheon.

More information is available from Christine Pappas, with the Human Diversity Committee, at 580-559-5640 or

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