Among the detrimental patterns of police brutality and educational disparities facing the African-American community, Xavier’s Institute for Black Catholic Studies will host a symposium addressing these issues. The seminar will feature renowned community leaders, speakers and civil rights activists from around the country. The “Black Lives Matter Symposium: Urban Education Matters” seminar takes place Oct. 21-22, 2016, in the University Center, and it will touch on civil issues such as education reform, racial consciousness, and discrimination on college campuses. Attendees will be able to participate in workshops and panel discussions.
“It’s disheartening to wake up to another domestic terrorist or another black man shot with no weapon in broad daylight. We have to continue to work to create a positive image of African- Americans in this country,” said Dr. Brian Turner, an assistant professor in Xavier’s psychology department and special guest. “It starts by being comfortable in our skin. To talk about Black Lives Matter begins at supporting the notion to each other as African-Americans that ‘your life matters’.” When Katherine Drexel founded Xavier during the Jim Crow Era, her mission was educating and providing a safe-haven for minorities of color. The Black Lives Matter symposium is an extension of that cause. “ It’s important that our voice is heard, ” said Dr. Renee Akbar, Chair of Xavier’s Division of Education and Counseling. “That it is not okay to make black lives a commodity that is easily disposed. It’s not okay to disrespect our contributions to the world.”
“‘Black Lives Matter’ is an open invitation to the community to participate in a clear and thought provoking discussion of racial conflict and unrest, and, more importantly, to be part of an earnest dialogue that can hopefully provide effective solutions leading to understanding and reconciliation,” said Reverend Maurice Nutt, Director of Xavier’s IBCS, whom began hosting the symposiums last year to raise awareness of racial conflicts occurring in America.
The symposium begins at 7 p.m. with an introduction by Lezley McSpadden, the mother of Michael Brown, followed by a keynote address by the Executive Director of Teach for America in St. Louis, Mo., Brittany Packnett. The night will end with spoken word by student volunteers in the Administration Auditorium. “ I hope people walk away with a renewed vision of the world,” Akbar said. Senior Pastor and Chair of the Board of Trustees, Rev. Dr. Frederick Haynes, III will open the second day with his lecture at 9 a.m. After, several workshops will take place across campus from 10:20 a.m. to 11:50 a.m. with lunch and another round of seminars from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Nutt said the workshops will discuss urban Catholic education, school-to prison education reform, racial and cultural consciousness and being young, black and gifted.
The panel discussion will have Jarvis DeBerry, Columnist for The Times-Picayune Newspaper as the moderator and will feature Akbar, Dr. Brenda L. Walker, Dr. Andre Perry, Kenneth E. Seals-Nutt, and Amber Domingue as guest panelists. The symposium will conclude with a closing by Dr. Calvin Mackie and special remarks by Nutt. “This is not just a matter of information or a social conference, it’s about the intersectionality of social justice and human rights, ” Akbar said.
Xavier students are able to attend the conference for free with their ID. Event registration for non-Xavier students is $30, while general admission is $65, which includes lunch for one day, and group rates are available. Other package deals offer discounts.For more information on the symposium, including event schedules and registration, is available online at www.xulablacklivesmatter.com , and in the IBCS Office located in Xavier South, Suite 560, telephone 504-273-7300. “At this critical juncture, I think Black Lives Matter serves a two-folded purpose,” Turner said. “One, to tell police officers, judges, and lawmakers that black lives matter, but also within our own community and our own dialogue.”