by Sal Nudo / Jan 23, 2015
When Satia Marshall Orange ’64 Spec.Ed. delivers the “Call to Action” address at the Feb. 2 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Sunrise Celebration in Chicago, she’ll be perfectly in her element. After all, the former director of the Office for Literacy and Outreach Services at the American Library Association (ALA) has more than 45 years of experience in public service.
Dr. King would likely be proud of Orange’s efforts, which have involved developing youth services, creating resources for U.S.-African foreign policy initiatives, and fostering the global delivery of library services to traditionally underserved populations.
Orange said that in both her education and librarianship careers, she always tried to listen to and learn from the intended recipients of the services she and her colleagues strived to offer.
“I hopefully have collaborated as much as possible with caregivers, other educators, management, administrators, and others in communities, those with potential impact and resources toward the collective development of targeted, viable initiatives,” said Orange, an African-American woman whose father, Albert, also graduated from the University of Illinois with a bachelor’s degree in library and information science and a master’s degree in history.
The 72-year-old Orange has taught cognitively challenged children in Milwaukee; was the founding director of the Arthur R. Ashe, Jr., Foreign Policy Library in Washington, D.C.; and has numerous affiliations with organizations such as the American Indian Library Association, the Association for Rural and Small Libraries, and REFORMA: The National Association to Promote Library & Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking.
When she speaks during the last portion of the Sunrise Celebration—an ALA event that has taken place since 2000—she’ll ask audience members how they will personally carry on King’s legacy of fighting racism and being a proponent of social justice, two causes Education at Illinois champions. Orange said she is “honored and humbled” to be a part of the ceremony.
“Experiencing my own incidents of discrimination and challenge, racial and otherwise, my gift from my parents of opening doors has been more toward expanding visions and viewpoints. My efforts have been the realization of increasing opportunities for access to information, broadening cooperation, and encouraging the creation of allies and initiatives where individuals and groups can govern their own lives and lifestyles,” she said.
After retiring in 2009, she has continued to advocate for King’s beliefs. Orange is known as someone who performs her duties with a passionate, diligent, and positive attitude.
Take, for example, her last student-teaching assignment at Illinois. The classroom’s teacher broke her leg at the start of the academic session, forcing Orange to “catch up really quickly” and lead the class.
“My adviser assured me that I could do it,” said Orange. “One of the things they talked about at the College was making an assessment when you walked into the classroom about how you could make that classroom yours. I had to use a lot of that while that woman was gone.”
Following graduation, Orange moved to Wisconsin and began her career teaching special-needs children in the Milwaukee Public School system. She described the situation as a “hot mess” because of the quick succession of rotating teachers. Orange employed the fundamentals of teaching and classroom organization and applied the available resources—all things she had been taught at the College. And she didn’t stop there.
“I used that expertise as I grew older,” she said.
Orange was a special education student at Illinois during the last years of Dr. Samuel A. Kirk’s tenure. Kirk, a faculty member at Illinois from 1947 to 1968, is recognized as a leader in special education who created the paradigm of “learning disability.” Orange said many of her peers chose Illinois specifically because of Kirk, and that he was highly revered. She recalled a brief talk he gave to the undergraduates.
“He basically just gave us a little history of his work, and he encouraged us to go out and do good,” she said.
When Orange delivers the Feb. 2 speech, she can do so with the pride that she played a major role in creating the Sunrise Celebration while continuing its yearly tradition. In short, she took Kirk’s advice to enhance society after graduation.
The 2015 MLK Sunrise Celebration will bring together leaders from across the American Library Association, including ALA President Courtney Young and ALA Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels. Dr. Cornel West will deliver the keynote presentation. View the press release.