This time of year, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Black History Month give us pause to remember and honor the life and works of civil rights leaders who pioneered the path of equality and social justice in this country. We’re also given an opportunity to reflect inward and evaluate what we are doing, both individually and collectively, to further their ideals today.
Since my first days with the College of Education in the 1960s, I have been proud to be part of a community of scholars concerned about exploring issues of social justice, equity, diversity, and accessibility for all. While progress has not always come easily, the commitment has not wavered. Rather, I am encouraged that—in light of 2020’s nation-wide social injustices and unrest—the College is more committed than ever to leadership in understanding, eradicating, and healing from social and racial injustices.
Internally, our Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Education Committee provided an updated framing of our commitment to equity and justice. As DEME stated in its report: “It is important to continuously question our ideas, commitments, and actions to equity and justice as a College.”
This semester, our Dean’s Distinguished Speaker Series focuses on Addressing Systemic Racism Through Justice and Equity: The Role of Faculty at a Community-Engaged, Empowered University. The January session drew over 300 online attendees and we have prominent speakers lined up for the March, April, and May sessions. Please visit our calendar for details and make plans to join us online.
Another initiative is the College’s Social Justice & Diversity Forum. Chancellor Robert Jones’ campus-wide call to action to research and address systemic racism and social injustice affords an opportunity to showcase the research, scholarship, and public engagement of our community in this space—and our graduate students, along with the Bureau of Educational Research, have organized this forum in response.
Finally, the College just concluded the 20th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Creative Expressions Competition, awarding several local students for their submissions honoring the civil rights leader. This year’s winners were concerned about finding ways to create more inclusive communities and equitable schools. You can view the online event video here.
From faculty-led lecture series, to graduate student discussion forums, to engaging with local P-12 students—the College continues celebrating and pursuing social justice in everything we do.
Yours in Orange and Blue,
James D. Anderson
Dean and Gutgsell Professor
College of Education