Marie King, Birmingham resident of thirty years, has an unconventional but impactful business. Ms. King has developed her business conducting workshops on understanding bias, racial reconciliation, purpose and forgiveness.
Where are some of the places you’ve presented? I have presented to many groups in and outside of Birmingham including Over the Mountain Democrats, Birmingham Southern College, Crestwood Civitan Club and First Church Birmingham.
Which topic/subject area are you most proud of/happiest about and why? I enjoy them all. They all kind of play off one another and regardless of what the focus of the talk or workshop I can work in a principal on purpose, forgiveness or understanding bias.
What is a basic overview of each of the workshops you teach? For the workshops it depends on what the group or organization thinks need to be addressed that has invited me in. I will always talk about bias in every workshop.
Has anything surprised you with any audience? What type of feedback do you get? Not really. I lead from a place of expectation, meaning I am expecting the group to treat one another with respect and respect each other’s stories and experiences as if they were their own. That is usually the case. I have received positive feedback from the work that I do.
What has prepared you/informed you for conducting the workshops? Did you receive training? What has prepared me for this work is that I am human. However, on the academic side, I have a Masters in Leadership but I have attended trainings and institutes that focus on non-violent work. I also read the writings of Dr. King.
What are some commonly asked questions or comments during the workshops? I will say that usually the questions that I am asked are more personal but always related to bias. People want to know if they are operating out of their bias for specific situations and if they are wrong. I have to explain that we all have bias but when we use our bias to oppress or stereotype another person that is when the line is crossed.
Do you facilitate panel discussions? If so, how is that different/similar to the workshops? Yes, I frequently moderate panel discussions across the city. Mostly for events that I have designed but I also host for other groups as well. The panel topics can range and there are guest speakers involved speaking to a specific issue or challenge that we are facing in the city or in society. The workshops that I do are on specific topics: understanding bias, racial reconciliation and how to connect with communities that don’t look like you.
Does the word “workshop” imply that participants are working on what they are learning? Yes, in my workshops there will be time where I present and time where the participants will do an exercise that may include anything from a form of a privilege walk to role-playing or something similar. The exercises depend on what the organization that has invited me has requested or believes needs to be addressed among their staff. My goal is to create an experience where deeper learning takes place so that a true place of understanding can manifest.
What is the hardest and most rewarding things about being a small business owner? The hardest thing is people saying that they value what you do but want you to do it for free. The most rewarding thing is sharing truth and providing an opportunity for participants to see situations in a new light.
What are your hopes for Birmingham’s future and how might that happen? Over fifty years ago, we were known as the most segregated city in America. My hope for Birmingham is that we can be a light in the world of how to get it right in the area of race relations.
How can people contact you to schedule a speaking engagement or workshop? Through email at firstname.lastname@example.org