‘Stranger at the Gate’: A Special Panel Discussion and Screening

United Through Engagement: Real Life Stories of Reconciliation

From executive producer Malala Yousafzai and director Joshua Seftel comes ‘Stranger at the Gate,’ a 2023 Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary Short Film that tells one story of how an act of compassion can stop an act of hate.

An Afghan refugee named Bibi Bahrami — and the members of her Indiana mosque — encounter a U.S. Marine, Richard “Mac” McKinney, who has a secret plot to bomb their mosque. But when they come face to face, the Marine’s plan takes an unexpected turn toward grace, transformation and hope.

On March 20, Bibi Bahrami and Mac McKinney will join for a screening and panel discussion on the film along with Masood Akhtar, president and founder of We are Many – United Against Hate.

The event is co-hosted by the Division of Diversity, Equity & Educational Achievement and the Division for Teaching and Learning.

Event details

Date: March 20, 2024
Time: 3:00–4:30 p.m.
Location: Marquee Cinema, Union South

Schedule of events

  • 3 p.m. Welcome Remarks by Chief Diversity Officer Dr. LaVar J. Charleston
  • 3:15 p.m. Masood Akhtar, president and founder, We are Many – United Against Hate
  • 3:30 p.m. Screening of Stranger at the Gate
  • 4 p.m. Panel conversation with Richard “MAC” McKinney and Bibi Bahrami, moderated by John Zumbrunnen, senior vice provost for academic affairs and vice provost for Teaching & Learning

Speaker Bios

Headshot of Masood Akhtar
A man in glasses smiles at the camera

Masood Akhtar, president and founder, We are Many – United Against Hate, Inc.

Masood Akhtar is an Indian-born, proud American Muslim entrepreneur and activist. Akhtar has been living in Madison for more than 35 years.

He has founded and led multiple businesses and has been actively involved with numerous community projects. One of Akhtar’s most visible efforts is a statewide, non-partisan movement he founded called We Are Many – United Against Hate, which focuses on teaching forgiveness and peace, addressing the root causes of hate, bigotry and racism, and building inclusive communities while empowering youth. Among his many recognitions and honors, in 2022, President Biden recognized Akhtar as a “Uniter” along with 18 others from across the country at the “United We Stand” summit at the White House.

Headshot of Richard MAC McKinney
A man in a white beard stares at the camera

Richard “MAC” McKinney, former Marine and Army veteran who, in a surprising development, became the president of a mosque that he had once plotted to bomb; honorary board member of We Are Many – United Against Hate

After 25 years in the armed services and several tours in the Middle East, a Marine named Richard McKinney came back to the U.S. filled with rage towards Muslims. In what he viewed as a final mission for his country, McKinney planned and built an improvised explosive device to blow up the Muncie Islamic Center. Then, on a fateful trip to the Mosque, he was welcomed by the local Muslim community, changing the course of his life. He started his own business, From Hate to Understanding, through which he travels and speaks about his journey.

Headshot of Bibi Bahrami
A woman in a headscarf smiles at the camera

Bibi Bahrami, community activist and Afghan refugee who warmly welcomed Richard “MAC” McKinney when he walked through the doors of the Muncie Islamic Center

Bibi Bahrami was born and raised in Behsood, Afghanistan. She came to Muncie, Indiana, to join her husband, Dr. Saber Bahrami, in 1986 as a refugee during the soviet war in Afghanistan. Bahrami has been a community activist for more than thirty years. After learning English and earning her GED, she went on to receive an arts degree from Ball State University. In 2002, she founded and became president of her own nonprofit organization, AWAKEN, (Afghan Women’s and Kids’ Education & Necessities), to give back to the Afghan women and children she left behind. Through Bahrami’s leadership and the support of her community, AWAKEN has made a difference in the education, health care services and vocational opportunities for thousands of Afghan women and families for over a decade. In 2021, after learning that the need for housing and resettlement for incoming refugees was great, Bahrami created MARRC as a sub-committee of AWAKEN to help Afghan refugees resettle and thrive in Muncie and surrounding Delaware County. MARRC has provided six months of urgent support to 115 people and 35 families, through aid such as rent, utilities, jobs and many other resources. Bahrami is also a member of the Muncie Rotary Club, Interfaith Fellowship and is president of the Islamic Center of Muncie. She is the recipient of the Vivian Conley Award for Humanitarian Service, the Indiana Women of Achievement Award, Ball State’s International Development Award, and the Rotary VIVA Award for Volunteerism. She has dedicated much of her life to the service of others and strives to make a difference in any way she can in the local and international communities.

Headshot of John Zumbrunnen
A man in glasses and a blue shirt stares into the camera

John Zumbrunnen, senior vice provost for academic affairs and vice provost for teaching and learning

John Zumbrunnen, professor of political science, studies the history of political thought, democratic theory and American political thought. Zumbrunnen is a past recipient of the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award, the Phi Beta Kappa Excellence in Teaching Award and the Alliant Energy Underkofler Excellence in Teaching Award. Alongside his administrative work, he continues to lead a short-term summer study abroad program in Dublin. Prior to taking on the role of vice provost for teaching and learning, Zumbrunnen was faculty director of Chadbourne Residential College, an educational innovation senior fellow and chair of the Department of Political Science.

Headshot of LaVar Charleston
A Black man in glasses and a suit smiles into the camera

LaVar J. Charleston, deputy vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer

LaVar J. Charleston is the deputy vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He serves as vice provost and chief diversity officer for the university as well as the Elzie Higginbottom Director of the Division of Diversity, Equity & Educational Achievement (DDEEA).

In his role as chief diversity officer, Charleston provides overall leadership for the university’s efforts to create a diverse, equitable and inclusive learning and working environment for all students, faculty, staff, alumni and others who work with the university. As director of the DDEEA, Charleston oversees the administration of scholarship and service programs designed to increase diversity and foster equity and inclusion for students, faculty and staff at the university.