EKU Libraries is hosting a series of speakers and discussions, “From Postcards to Hashtags: Unpacking the Oppression of Black Lives Through Conversations on Racism, Resistance, and Reconciliation.” The first event of the series, held virtually on Sept. 23, was moderated by Dr. Ogechi Anyanwu with guest speakers Dr. Dannie Moore, who recently joined EKU as vice president for strategic initiatives and chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer, and EKU President Dr. David McFaddin.
In welcoming participants, Kelly Smith, director of collections and discovery at EKU Libraries, said the series was developed as a partnership between EKU’s African and African American Studies; the Department of History, Philosophy and Religious Studies; the Department of Languages, Cultures and Humanity; the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs; the Office of Institutional Equity; the Student Success Center and EKU Libraries, “in the hope that we can have an open conversation about how racism affects us all.”
Anyanwu, director of African and African American Studies at EKU, led and moderated the discussion.
“Today’s event marks the beginning of the year-long series, designed to engage the EKU community in discussing the historical movement worldwide to promote racial equality and justice of Black Americans,” said Anyanwu. “Never in recent memory, has the global community passionately focused on the human rights of Black men and women in America.”
Anyanwu began by asking McFaddin and Moore “to tell us what Black Lives Matter movement means to them personally, and how it reflects in their professional and personal lives.”
Moore responded by sharing his personal experience as a Black man. From growing up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, “in what is considered the most incarcerated zip code in the United States,” to being “the first person in his family to even consider post-secondary education,” to when he walked into his college residence hall and his roommate moved out, he always knew “something wasn’t right,” Moore said. “So from that point on, it was like this lightbulb that I needed to educate myself to educate others, and that’s where this commitment to diversity work happened.”
The discussion continued with questions from Anyanwu, questions that had been submitted by students in African and African American Studies classes, and questions posed by participants of the event through Zoom’s chat feature.
McFaddin touched on his personal experience coming from a “predominantly white, low income, rural part of our state. When I looked around my community, everyone looked like me, everyone talked like me,” he said. “When I arrived on campus, what I realized is the world is a much bigger place, and that those perspectives and those experiences make up such a rich tapestry of the world.”
McFaddin and Moore said their vision for diversity at EKU involves plans for diversity-related programming and resources available to students.
Current initiatives for promoting diversity include Moore leading as EKU’s first vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion; the hiring of Dr. Roger Cleveland as director of faculty diversity and development to recruit and retain a diverse workforce and incorporate diversity initiatives into curriculum; providing a safe place for all students, faculty and staff, including access to counseling services; supporting student organizations; and facilitating opportunities for students to engage in diversity-related events and share their voices.
For future plans, Moore will be adding another member of his team to “lead and look at the education space – how do we offer in-depth training that moves the agenda forward.” He’s also implementing structural changes for additional support in what is currently EKU’s Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, exploring avenues for incorporating diversity discussions as part of student orientation, and building a repository of diversity-related resources.
“As we go through our general education redesign process, over the next year or so, thinking about diversity, equity and inclusion will be a pillar of that redesign,” McFaddin added, and mentioned diversity initiatives also being prominent in EKU’s upcoming strategic plan.
“Without diversity on this campus, we cannot offer our students truly everything they need to be a global citizen and to be the change that we want them to be in their communities and in their families.” McFaddin said. “It is so fundamental to the educational journey to be able to have that diversity in our community, to be able to bring that to our students, and to bring that to our faculty and to our staff.”
A recording of the discussion is available at https://libguides.eku.edu/postcards-to-hashtags.
The next event, scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 22 at 11 a.m., will focus on the perspectives of black alumni. Leading the discussion will be Ashley Offutt, interim director of EKU’s Office of Multicultural Student Affairs.