Vanderbilt convenes scholars, activists across generations to examine Nashville’s role in fight for racial justice

The Vanderbilt community will welcome a diverse panel of renowned civil rights and social justice activists, journalists, historians and scholars for an examination of Nashville’s role as an intellectual center of the struggle for racial justice, then and now.

The daylong virtual symposium, “Racial Justice, Freedom and Activism in Nashville and Beyond: Then and Now,” will be held on Friday, March 26, starting at 9 a.m. CT. The event is hosted by the Office for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in partnership with the Chancellor’s Lecture Series and the Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy. The symposium is open to the public. Registration is required.

To effectively make progress in the complex realms of racial justice today, it is imperative to learn from the wisdom and experiences of our past.

~ Dr. André Churchwell

Register for the symposium

In five distinct sessions, participants will discuss the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s-including events in Nashville, such as the lunch counter sit-ins-and compare that era to America’s current struggle for social and racial equality.

“To effectively make progress in the complex realms of racial justice today, it is imperative to learn from the wisdom and experiences of our past. It is part of our mission at Vanderbilt to cultivate environments that elevate research, discussion and civil discourse to help make the world better,” said Dr. André L. Churchwell, vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer for Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Sessions include:

Introduction to “This Moment of Reckoning”

Panelists:

  • André L. Churchwell, vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer for Vanderbilt University
  • Dennis Dickerson, Reverend James M. Lawson Chair in History and professor of history, College of Arts and Science, Vanderbilt University

Fresh Scholarship and a Historian’s View

Moderator: Jon Meacham, Carolyn T. and Robert M. Rogers Chair in American Presidency

Panelists:

  • Alice Randall, writer-in-residence, African American and diaspora studies, English, College of Arts and Science, Vanderbilt University
  • Bobby Lovett, Ph.D. historian, consultant, author, retired history professor, Tennessee State University
  • Dennis Dickerson, Reverend James M. Lawson Chair in History and Professor of History, College of Arts and Science, Vanderbilt University

News and Media’s Role in Nashville’s Civil Rights Movement

Moderator: Vanessa Beasley, vice provost for academic affairs and dean of residential faculty

Panelists:

  • Dwight Lewis, retired reporter, columnist and editorial page editor for The Tennessean, and author
  • Pat Embry, director of media and community relations, The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee and former executive editor of the Nashville Banner

Past Voices in Conversation with Current Activists

Moderator: Michael Eric Dyson, Centennial Chair and University Distinguished Professor of African American and Diaspora Studies in the College of Arts and Science and University Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Society in the Divinity School, Vanderbilt University

Panelists:

  • Angeline Butler, performing artist, educator and civil rights icon, adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York City
  • Caroline Randall Williams, writer-in-residence in medicine, health and society, Vanderbilt University
  • Charlane Oliver, co-executive director and co-founder, The Equity Alliance
  • Jamil Smith, senior writer, Rolling Stone
  • Justin Jones, activist and organizer
  • James Lawson, pivotal figure in the Civil Rights Movement, Distinguished University Professor, Emeritus, distinguished alumni, Vanderbilt Divinity School
  • Tequila Johnson, co-executive director and co-founder, The Equity Alliance

What We Have Learned and Thoughts About the Future

Panelists:


Register to virtually attend the symposium

For a detailed schedule of the symposium, please visit vu.edu/edi-symposium.

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