OC’s McBride Lecture welcomes Bellwether winner

Naomi Benaron
Naomi Benaron

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – Award-winning novelist Naomi Benaron will deliver the ninth-annual McBride Lecture for Faith and Literature on Oct. 18 at Oklahoma Christian University (OC).

The lecture will begin at 7:30 p.m. in OC’s Hardeman Auditorium. A panel discussion and free book-signing reception will follow. Lecture seating is free, but should be reserved at www.oc.edu/mcbridecenter.

Benaron received the Bellwether Prize for social justice in fiction in 2010. Her bestselling novel, Running the Rift, tells the coming-of-age story of a young athlete named Jean Patrick during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

“Naomi Benaron’s story takes readers along on a boy’s journey from innocence to experience during a time of unspeakable violence, so readers who take this journey with Jean Patrick grow, too, as many of us did the first time we read The Diary of Anne Frank,” said Scott LaMascus, OC’s vice president for academic affairs. “This journey makes me determined to be part of a better way.”

During her visit, Benaron will join in discussions with OC’s Rwandan Presidential Scholars, promote critical thinking about social justice themes, and conduct a workshop for fiction and nonfiction writers.

“Attendees of the McBride Lecture will certainly experience and possibly come to share Benaron’s deep respect and appreciation for Rwanda’s culture and people,” Associate Professor of English Gail Nash said. 

Beyond the McBride Lecture, Oklahoma Christian provided Running the Rift free as an e-book to each incoming first-year student and will use it throughout the academic year as OC’s “freshman book.” Campus book groups will discuss the novel, and professors will use it in various courses, including the Symposium class in OC’s Honors Program.

Hannah Bingham, a senior English major from Edmond, was selected as the McBride Center’s undergraduate fellow to coordinate book discussion groups, panel discussions and other events throughout the year.

"By giving Running the Rift to all new freshmen, OC offers students a unique opening to their time here, because the novel provides a look into another culture and gives students insight into some of their peers they might not have understood before,” Bingham said.

Top students from Rwanda are selected each year to study at Oklahoma Christian in the prestigious Presidential Scholars Program. This program was established in partnership with the Rwandan government to provide educational opportunities in science and technology for qualified citizens of Rwanda to pursue undergraduate or graduate degrees at Oklahoma Christian.

The McBride Center is named for Bailey and Joyce McBride, who have been academic leaders in OC’s campus community and Oklahoma’s higher education community since the 1950s. Bailey McBride is a member of the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame.

Endowment and operational funding for the McBride Center is made available by the National Endowment for the Humanities through its matching grants. Additional support for the center’s endowment and programs comes from the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, the Kirkpatrick Family Fund, the Oklahoma Humanities Council, the Inasmuch Foundation, and the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.

Past guests for the McBride Lecture include: bestselling novelist Kathleen Norris (2005); U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky (2006); Pulitzer Prize winner Marilynne Robinson (2007); best-selling religions author Dr. Charles Kimball (2008); environmentalist and bestselling author Bill McKibben (2009); past national chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts and poet Dana Gioia (2010); bestselling novelist Alice McDermott (2011); and Tony Award winning playwright David Henry Hwang (2012).

For more information about the McBride Lecture, call (405) 425-5330 or go to www.oc.edu/mcbridecenter.

-OC-