Frances Presley Rice, a former Army officer who is now a screenwriter and producer, will be the featured speaker at the 24th annual Bigwood Lecture on Tuesday, April 19, in Legacy Hall on the Fergus Falls campus of Minnesota State Community and Technical College.
Rice’s presentation, My American Journey, recounts her life from a childhood spent in poverty in the segregated South to her participation in the civil rights protests and ultimately to her service as a lawyer and lieutenant colonel in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps and to a successful career in the movie industry.
The evening begins with a cash bar and light appetizers from 6 to 7 p.m., followed by a short Fergus Area College Foundation annual meeting and Rice’s presentation at 7 p.m. The VFW Post 612 Color Guard will present the colors.
The event is free and open to the public.
In her keynote address, Rice will profile four successful African Americans and also screen “In the Hour of Chaos,” a documentary about the life and times of the Rev. Martin Luther King Sr. and the King family history.
Rice also plans several community appearances during her visit to Fergus Falls, including a joint presentation at the Veterans Home with the Otter Tail County Historical Society and presentations at the Sunrise and Noon Rotary clubs and Noon Kiwanis.
During two separate appearances she will share the film “Profiles of African American Success” with Fergus Falls High School students and also speak with members of the business organization Otter Tail Women Networking and Integrating Talents.
At 7 p.m. Monday, April 18, Rice will screen the film “The Czar of Black Hollywood” at A Center for the Arts and lead a discussion about the critically acclaimed documentary about black filmmaker Oscar Micheaux.
Rice is currently a screenwriter, director and executive producer with Block Starz Music Television LLC and has been named one of America’s Top 100 Block Business and Professional Women by the editorial board of Dollars and Sense magazine.
She was awarded the Legion of Merit for her years of service in the military. She also served as a member of President Ronald Reagan’s Private Sector Initiatives Task Force.
“My success was made possible because of the freedoms we enjoy in America,” Rice writes. “The traditional values I acquired during my formative years are at the heart of how I was able to overcome tremendous obstacles. Those values are: Work hard, be willing to make sacrifices, take responsibility for your own destiny, get a good education and lend a helping hand to others – regardless of your own circumstances – because what goes around, comes around. Above all, reach for the stars. If you fall short, at least you will have accomplished something.”
Bigwood Lecture is sponsored by FACF and Otter Tail Power Company. It is endowed by Otter Tail Power in honor of the late Robert M. Bigwood, the longtime power company president and board chairman who was instrumental in establishing the community college in Fergus Falls and its foundation.
Through the support of donors, FACF provides resources to enrich learning, living, working and serving. During the 2015-16 academic year, the foundation awarded more than $150,000 in scholarships to more than 100 students and provided over $60,000 in financial support for faculty, staff and college president requests.