Jane Elliott is the adaptor of the controversial and startling “blue-eyed/brown-eyed” exercise in discrimination, developed in response to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and immortalized in the 1970 documentary The Eye of the Storm. She has often been called the founder of Diversity Training.
The “blue-eyed/brown-eyed” exercise, which labels participants as inferior or superior based on the color of their eyes, is a powerful tool in exposing white people to the experience of being in the minority. It was prompted by Leon Uris’ Mila 18, as eye color was one of the ways Hitler determined who went to the gas chamber.
Jane Elliott is first and foremost a teacher. Today she also lectures for schools, corporations and Fortune 500 companies in the U.S. and worldwide (Australia, United Kingdom, Ireland, Holland, Scotland, Canada, Germany, Alaska).
Jane has been recognized as an outstanding Educator. Among her many awards are:
• Sidney Hillman Award (Honorary Award) (1985)
• National Mental Health Association Award for Excellence in Education
• The Cristine Wilson Medal for Equality and Justice
• The Ally Award (Center for the Healing of Racism, 2003)
• The Salem Award for Humanitarianism (2004)
• The Columbia University Teacher’s College Social Justice Action Award (2005)
Hundreds of articles, books and television documentaries have been written about Jane Elliott and her exercise. Among them are:
• A Class Divided (Yale University Press, 1971), published in the U.S., Canada, Japan, Norway and Sweden
• German VOGUE profile. (December, 2000)
• Oprah Winfrey’s Magazine “O” profiles Jane Elliott in its Phenomenal Woman column. (December, 2000)
• Granada Television’s The Human Zoo and BBC’s Five Steps to Tyranny spotlight Jane Elliott conducting her exercise with British participants from 17 years to 63
• Smithsonian Magazine article, Lesson of a Lifetime (September, 2005)
• The September 15, 2006 episode of the ABC News program 20/20 about Stereotypes
In one of her documentaries, The Angry Eye, Jane says “When am I going to quit? When racists quit. Do I have a job for a lifetime? I’m afraid so.”
After more than 40 years, Jane Elliott continues to educate people on racism.