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First Call to Action Symposium Will Feature Ibram X. Kendi Keynote Conversation

Dr. Ibram X Kendi will serve as the first keynote speaker for the Chancellor’s Call to Action to Address Racism & Social Injustice. Photo by Stephen Voss.

As part of a university-wide efforts on systemic racial inequities and injustices, research groups will present their findings from the first year of funding from the Chancellor’s Call to Action to Address Racism and Social Injustice.

Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research and author of five #1 New York Times bestsellers, including How to be an Anti-Racist, will participate in the keynote conversation by answering questions submitted by the public. Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Sean C. Garrick will moderate the event, which will be held at the Spurlock Museum of World Cultures. Registration has reached capacity and is now closed.

Dr. Kendi is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University, and the founding director of the BU Center for Antiracist Research. He is a contributing writer at The Atlantic and a CBS News racial justice contributor.  

Dr. Kendi is the author of many highly acclaimed books including Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, which won the National Book Award for Nonfiction, making him the youngest ever winner of that award. He had also produced five straight #1 New York Times bestsellers, including How to Be an Antiracist, Antiracist Baby, and Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, co-authored by Jason Reynolds. In 2020, Time magazine named Dr. Kendi one of the 100 most influential people in the world. He was awarded a 2021 MacArthur Fellowship, popularly known as the Genius Grant. His two most recent books came out in summer 2022. They are How to Raise an Antiracist and the picture book, Goodnight Racism.

The first year of research projects will be presented during the first research symposium. Researchers from the 22 2021-2022 funded projects will present their findings through presentations and poster sessions. 

The symposium will be held at Levis Faculty Center from 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on October 7. For more information and a full schedule, please visit the websiteRegistration is available for Friday, October 7 as well. To attend both days of the event, please complete both registration forms.

In July 2020, Chancellor Jones announced a $2 million annual commitment by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to focus the intellectual and scholarly talent of our university to examine two of the greatest challenges facing our society and seek new solutions. Recognizing the critical need for universities across our nation to prioritize research focused on systemic racial inequities and injustices that exist not only in our communities but in higher education itself, the Call to Action to Address Racism & Social Injustice Research Program provides support for academic research and the expansion of community-based knowledge that advances the understanding of systemic racism and generationally embedded racial disparity.

The program focuses on three critical research areas that are currently the most important and complex challenges facing local communities, states, and our nation. The first two years are focused on systemic racism and social injustice, law enforcement and criminal justice reform, and disparities in health and health care. 

The projects explored topics from research that can lead to the removal of barriers that inhibit access to education, opportunity, support, and resources, strategies for increasing perspective taking and understanding, and the interrogation of structural and institutionalized systems of disparity and disenfranchisement. The researchers also focus on the reduction of violence and harm that can increase racial equity, well-being, safety, and belonging.

The Call to Action includes 179 individuals from the campus and the local community including faculty, staff, community members, graduate & undergraduate students. 45% of Principal Investigators represent people of color. And 82% of Principal Investigators are women.

The Chancellor’s Call to Action to Address Racism & Social Injustice Research Program is administratively supported by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.