Grand Rapids Community College is bringing in some high-profile speakers for a series designed to explore issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion.
Pulitzer Prize-winner Nikole Hannah-Jones and Emmy Award-winner John Leguizamo are among the speakers highlighting GRCC's 2021-2022 Diversity Lecture Series and Latino Heritage Month.
The Diversity Lecture Series provides students, employees and community members access to scholars, thought-leaders, activists, and artists and is presented by the GRCC’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
“Our overarching goal for the year ahead is cultivating equity through an intersectional framework,” says Dr. B. Afeni McNeely Cobham, GRCC’s chief equity and inclusion officer. “We are adopting intersectionality from the work of professor Kimberlé Crenshaw, who describes intersectionality as an understanding of how race, class, gender, sexuality, religion, disability, physical appearance, height, and other individual characteristics ‘intersect’ with one another and overlap.”
This year’s kickoff of the Diversity Lecture Series will highlight a new initiative called Interfaith Literacy.
Keynote speaker Austin Channing Brown will lead a discussion about standing in the shadow of hope. In this context, the word “shadow” is a metaphor for patience and grace.
Brown is a speaker, writer and media producer providing inspired leadership on justice in America. She is the author of “I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness.” Her workshops and lectures are incisive, fun, disarming and transformative. By using an intentional mix of humor, pop-culture, story-telling, and audience engagement, she evokes thought, feeling and action as she celebrates the possibility of justice in our organizations and communities.
The event is planned for 6 p.m. Sept. 7.
Catalysts for change
Leguizamo established a career defying categorization. A multi-faceted performer, writer and director, Leguizamo's work in film, theatre, television and literature covers various genres with boundless and visceral creativity.
Leguizamo starred in the hit one-person, Tony Award-nominated play, “Latin History for Morons” from November 2017 to February 2018, which revolves around all that is missing from his son’s middle-school understanding of Latino history.
Leguizamo is the Latino Heritage Month keynote speaker and is scheduled to speak at 6 p.m. Sept. 15.
Nikole Hannah-Jones is the creator of the 1619 Project, which has generated robust discussion about broadening what is taught in schools. Hannah-Jones was at the center of a debate on academic freedom when she was initially denied tenure at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill this year.
Her address is planned for 6 p.m. Jan. 31, 2022.
LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter, will commemorate Black History Month.
Brown is a catalyst for change, thought leader and social strategist, whose efforts have inspired people into action. She received the 2010 White House Champion of Change Award, the 2006 Spirit of Democracy Award, and the Louis Burnham Award for Human Rights.
All events are virtual. Register or RSVP at: tinyurl.com/GRCCequity
A list of all fall 2021 events is here