MLK Day, Social Justice Week Events Set

A person in a blue shirt stands in the middle of murals painted on wallsFollowing a year in which calls for racial equity and social justice rose to new prominence, the University’s annual Social Justice Week, running Jan 18-22, 2021, presents a renewed opportunity for the Pitt community to contemplate the life and legacy of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr.

“Pitt’s Social Justice Week observances represent a tremendous opportunity to focus on the ongoing need to work collectively and with determination, recommitting ourselves at every turn to achieving equity to its fullest—at the University of Pittsburgh and in our nation,” said Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Ann E. Cudd.

Virtual events through the course of the week provide food for thought for a University community that in 2021 is celebrating separately together.

Jan. 18

Pitt’s Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and the Center on Race and Social Problems (CRSP) are marking the Jan. 18 Martin Luther King Day holiday by bringing together Pitt experts on race and the law, rural education, legislative politics and racial justice in university settings for a discussion on the current state of political affairs and their implications for the future of racial justice in the United States.

What Just Happened? Race, Justice, and Politics After the Capitol Siege,” a virtual #CRSPCast/This is Not Normal crossover forum, is set for noon, Jan. 18. 

Scheduled panelists are: Clyde Pickett, vice chancellor, Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion; Kristin Kanthak, associate professor, Department of Political Science; Thomas Farmer, professor and department chair for Health and Human Development, School of Education; and Tomar Pierson-Brown, associate dean for equity and inclusive excellence, School of Law.

James Huguley, CRSP interim director, and Paula Davis, associate vice chancellor for diversity, equity, and inclusion, Health Sciences, will moderate the discussion following welcome remarks by Cudd.

Register for this event.

Jan. 20

The Creating a Just Community Awards Program 2021 is set for 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 20.

Pitt’s Center for Race and Social Problems is this year’s University Prize for Strategic, Inclusive and Diverse Excellence (UPSIDE) awardee, and Yolanda Covington-Ward, department chair and associate professor of Africana Studies in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, is Equipoise’s MLK. Jr. Creating a Just Community awardee. They will be recognized for their outstanding efforts in creating a more just, equitable and inclusive Pitt community.

Register for this event.

Jan. 21

The Office of the Dean of Students will present a daylong social justice symposium, “Common Ground for the Common Good: Examining the Past, Healing the Present, Building the Future,” from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 21.

The event features multiple breakout sessions and keynote speakers Adam Alvarez (EDUC ’18G) and Luis Ortega.

Alvarez is an assistant professor of Urban Education in the Department of Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Education at Rowan University. His scholarship contributes to a growing body of research that attempts to shift institutional approaches toward preparing future educators and researchers to recognize and disrupt longstanding school and social inequalities. 

Ortega is a multidisciplinary storyteller, empathy educator, artist and the founder and director of Storytellers for Change.

Register for this event.

Jan. 22

Paul Harper, clinical assistant professor of Business Administration at the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, has coordinated an Academy of Management Racial Justice Web Forum, a five-part series in which the world’s top business scholars examine issues of racial justice at the intersection of business and society. The first forum, “Racial Justice and Business Schools," is set for 11 a.m. Friday, Jan. 22.

Harper will join panelists Penelope Muzanenhamo of University College Dublin and Victor Ray of Iowa University in a discussion of the role of race in business school curricula and research valuation. The panel also will address leading diversity and inclusion efforts as well as teaching about racial justice in business schools.

Katz faculty member Sharon Alvarez, Thomas W. Olofson Chair in Entrepreneurship, will co-host this forum.

Register for this event.