What to Expect at Pitt’s Diversity Forum, Advancing Social Justice: A Call to Action

Angela Davis and Ibram X. Kendi in a stitched photoAs the nation grapples with the death of George Floyd and others at the hands of police, a new and energized movement for racial justice has taken shape, with many people wondering how they can contribute to it in a meaningful way. The University of Pittsburgh is bringing together some of the country’s leading voices in anti-racism to help people gain the tools to make their communities more diverse, equitable and inclusive.

Register for the Diversity Forum

Join us for the Diversity Forum 2020 and register for the free three-day event. Workshop webinar links and additional access information will be shared with confirmed registrants next week. 

We know there’s a lot to choose from on the schedule, so check Pittwire for coverage throughout the forum, and visit the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s website to see video archives of the sessions afterward.

Hosted by Pitt’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Diversity Forum 2020, titled Advancing Social Justice: A Call to Action is a first-of-its kind virtual event at Pitt that’s free and open to the public. It will be held July 28-30. The forum will spark conversations among people across disciplines and with diverse life experiences to suggest ways to dismantle systemic racism in our communities. To take part and receive access to the virtual sessions, complete this registration form.

Workshop and session facilitators from within and outside of Pitt will be tackling important and timely topics such as fostering anti-racist practices, understanding White privilege and the contagion of xenophobia.

The forum, which has already drawn 8,000 registrants from across the world, including Canada, Nigeria and India, will also serve as the kickoff to Pitt’s Year of Engagement, said Kathy Humphrey, senior vice chancellor for engagement and secretary of the Board of Trustees.

“The Diversity Forum is the perfect way to kick off the Year of Engagement at Pitt: a year dedicated to connecting with one another and co-creating something of sustained, shared value that makes positive impact and change,” said Humphrey. “I hope that the forum will give us the tools to make our campus, our region and our communities more equitable places. I also hope that the forum will not be just a place to have conversations, but a place where we are mobilized to do the work that will make the difference.”

Featured speakers include Ibram X. Kendi—scholar, activist and author of the New York Times best-seller “How to Be an Antiracist.”

“I'm delighted to be one of the speakers of Pitt’s three-day virtual forum on anti-racism and social justice education. I hope this forum can move us, move our ideas, move our polices forward towards justice and equity,” he said.

So you can plan ahead, here’s a sampling of events scheduled during the forum—and there’s more than what’s here. To view all workshops and sessions, make sure to check out the Diversity Forum website.

Tuesday, July 28

At 5:30 p.m., the forum kicks off with “A Call to Activism: Witnessing Globally, Responding Locally,” which will discuss mitigation strategies to redress systemic injustice and establish equity and justice for all. This session will be moderated by Mario Browne, director of the Office of Health Sciences Diversity, and will feature Clyde Wilson Pickett, who was recently named Pitt’s vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion; Leigh Patel, professor in the School of Education, Jasiri X, Pittsburgh-based rapper and activist; Darren Whitfield, assistant professor in the School of Social Work and Department of Psychiatry.

At 7 p.m., hear from legendary human rights and social justice activist Angela Davis in a conversation with Kathy Humphrey, senior vice chancellor for engagement and Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Ann E. Cudd.

Wednesday, July 29

At 9 a.m., Chancellor Patrick Gallagher will introduce keynote speaker Ibram X. Kendi—scholar, activist and author of the New York Times best-seller “How to Be an Antiracist.” Kendi’s session will be a conversation with Keisha N. Blain, associate professor, Department of History in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences; Morgan Ottley, president of Pitt’s Black Action Society; Valerie Kinloch, the Renée and Richard Goldman Dean of the School of Education (moderator); Majestic Lane, chief equity officer and deputy chief of staff for Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto; and Eric Macadangdang, president of the Student Government Board (moderator).

At 10:45 a.m., check out workshops tackling topics such as “Anthropology, Race, Racism and Everyday Life,” and “Using Social Psychological Insights to Foster Equity in College Classrooms.”

At noon, tune in for “Turn the World Inside Out: Art as Activism,” which will feature the work of Pittsburgh artists and their creative processes for making art in relation to social and political activism. During this session, the winners of the Art of Diversity Showcase and Competition will also be announced. See the entries in the showcase and vote.

At 1:45 p.m., log on to workshops such as “Understanding White Racial Identity Development and the Pillars of White Privilege,” “Connecting History with the Injustices of Today: Insights from the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh” and “Deconstructing White Fragility.”

At 3:30 p.m., the day ends with “The Contagion of Xenophobia,” featuring Phuc Tran, author, educator and classicist; Alyssa Khieu, advocacy chair of the Asian Student Alliance; Waverly Duck, urban sociologist and associate professor of the Department of Sociology; Sheila Velez-Martinez, the Jack & Lovell Olender Professor of Refugee, Asylum, and Immigration Law and director of clinical programs at Pitt School of Law; and Paula Davis, assistant vice chancellor for Health Sciences Diversity (moderator).

See all July 29 sessions.

Thursday, July 30

At 9 a.m., start the day with a conversation of “From Protest to Policy: Environmental Justice, Economic Equity and Community Activism,” along with Fred Brown, president and CEO of the Forbes Fund; Carl Redwood, community organizer at Pittsburgh Hill District Consensus Group; Olivia “Liv” Bennett, a member of Allegheny County Council (District 13 representative); Jerry Dickinson, associate professor of law; anupama jain, executive director of Pittsburgh’s Gender Equity Commission; Hillary Roman, ADA coordinator for the City of Pittsburgh; and Kristin Kanthak, associate professor in the Department of Political Science.

At 10:45 a.m., take your pick of workshops like “How Did We Get Here? Histories of Race, Discrimination and Protest,” “Engaging in Community-Based Research: Exploring Paths to Justice” and “Collaboration, Aggregation and Cooperation: Organizing for Justice in a Polarized, Competitive World.”

At noon, a featured session of “Faith on the Front Lines: The Role Religious Communities Play in Times of Social Activism and Division,” will be offered by John Wallace, who was recently named vice provost for faculty diversity and development, is senior pastor of Bible Center Church in Homewood, and cofounder and board president of Homewood Children’s Village; Wasi Mohamed, senior policy officer with the Pittsburgh Foundation; Kathryn Fleisher, Pitt student, social justice activist and 2020 Truman Scholar; the Rev. C. Matthew Hawkins; and Emiola Jay Oriola, program manager for the Office of Interfaith Dialogue and Engagement.

At 1:45 p.m., choose from workshops including “My Racial Journey,” “Americans with Disabilities Act at 30: Pitt Contributions and Impact on Pitt,” and “Black-Owned Businesses at Pitt: Opportunity and Commitment.”

And at 3:30 p.m., the forum concludes with a featured session focused on education and healing titled “Working Together/Healing Together: Transforming Care via Social Justice.” This session will be led by Sage Hayes, who focuses on healing from collective trauma and embodied trauma; Felicia and Martin Freidman, founders of YogaRoots on Location, embodied anti-racist yoga instruction; and Jay Darr, director of the University Counseling Center.

See all July 30 sessions.