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Diversity Lecture Series: DLS - Past Speakers

Past Speakers links

March 16, 2016 -- Jennifer Boylan-- Fountain Street Church

Jennifer Finney Boylan is the author of thirteen books, is the inaugural Anna Quindlen Writer in Residence at Barnard College of Columbia University. She also serves as the national co-chair of the Board of Directors of GLAAD, the media advocacy group for LGBT people worldwide.

She has been a contributor to the op/ed page of the New York Times since 2007; in 2013 she became Contributing Opinion Writer for the page. Jenny also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Kinsey Institute for Research on Sex, Gender, and Reproduction.  Jenny also serves as Special Advisor to the President of Colby College in Maine. Read more here.

February 17, 2016 -- Ben Jealous-- Fountain Street Church

Benjamin Jealous is a former president and CEO of the NAACP, an author and a civil rights leader. Jealous is currently the Senior Fellow at American Progress where he is  focusing on tracking the political trends that affect civil and human rights.

October 21, 2015 -- Michael Twitty -- Fountain Street Church

Michael W. Twitty is the author of the food blog "Afroculinaria." He is a cook, historian and scholar on historic African American food and culture. Michael is a Judaic studies teacher from the Washington D.C. Metropolitan area and his interests include food culture, food history, Jewish cultural issues, African American history and cultural politics. Afroculinaria will highlight and address food’s critical role in the development and definition of African American civilization and the politics of consumption and cultural ownership that surround it. Read more at


Subjects: African American history and culture, food and cooking, Jewish culture, etc.

March 25, 2015 -- Matt Taibbi -Author, Journalist

Matt Taibbi -Author, Journalist

The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth GapTaibi

Matt Taibbi asked why does poverty rise, as crime goes down and the prison population doubles. He discovered the Divide, the seam in American life where troubling trends - wealth inequality and mass incarceration- meet. He contends that our basic rights are now determined by our wealth or by our poverty. Are the wealthy untouchable? The poor criminalized? A New York Times bestseller, Divide paints an alarming portrait of contemporary American life and provides a way forward against this crisis. He writes for Rolling Stone and recently launched a new digital magazine by First Look Media.

February 11, 2015 -- Mary Pipher, Ph.D., Author, Clinical Psychologist

Mary Pipher, Ph.D., Author, Clinical Psychologist

The Green Boat: Sustaining Our Planet and Each Other
Pipher photo

Dr. Pipher is concerned with how American culture influences the mental health of its people. In The Green Boat: Reviving Ourselves in Our Capsized Culture, she considers how easily we are disconnected from our emotions, our bodies, each other and the truth, as we are engulfed in devastating information about the fate of Mother Earth. Author of nine books, Dr. Pipher suggests we must reconnect our inner and outer lives to respond to this trauma with an awareness that leads to resilient coping and for many a transcendent response.

MLK Day 2015-- Monday, Janurary 19, 2016 -- Sybrina Fulton

 29th Annual Commemoration Program | Monday, January 19, 2015 • 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Keynote Speaker: Sybrina Fulton  (Trayvon Martin's Mother)

Sybrina Fulton is dedicating her life to transforming family tragedy into social change. Since the death of her 17 year old son, Trayvon Martin, during the violent confrontation in 2012, Fulton has become an inspiring spokesperson for parents and concerned citizens across the country.

Her message not only appeals to people’s hearts as it relates to children, but is also one of hope and change, exemplified by her personal experiences and endeavors. As a mother, she inspires audiences to continuously educate their children about civil rights and to help them feel accepted as part of an ever changing society. An honest and relatable speaker, Fulton always looks forward sharing her powerful message with everyone from colleges and legal professionals to community and family organizations, and all other proponents of social justice.

November 12, 2014 -- Elaine Richardson, Ph.D.

Elaine Richardson, Ph.D., Author, Professor, Recording Artist

PHD (Po H# on Dope) to Ph.D.: How Education Saved My LifeRichardson photo

Dr. Richardson’s one-woman show, PHD to Ph.D., features expressive performance, storytelling and music. Addicted to drugs, abusive controlling pimps, the streets, with short stints in jail, the cycle of death appeared to be her life with prison the inevitable end. Instead, she returned to school and never stopped. She became empowered with knowledge of her culture and history and changed her life. A Professor at The Ohio State University, her motto is: “Ignorance, low self-esteem and shame are killers. When you know who you are, nobody can control you.”

Call to Action: President Jimmy Carter 22 Sept. 2014 | 5 p.m. | Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse

President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, will kick-off the 2014-15 Diversity Lecture Series. Mr. and Mrs. Carter will discuss human rights, racial diversity and social justice.

Jimmy Carter graphic

Michele Norris 3/12/2014

Eavesdropping on America's Conversation on Race : Michele Norris is currently a host and special correspondent for NPR.  Norris served as co-host of Michelle NorrisNPR's newsmagazine All Things ConsideredNorris relates how intended to write a book about America’s hidden conversations about race but discovered much had been hidden from her by her family.  Her parents kept the stories of racial injustice and pain to themselves because they wanted their children “to soar”.  She found that her father had been shot in the leg after returning from service in WWII by white police officers.  Her mother had worked for years as an itinerant Aunt Jemima traveling to small towns demonstrating pancake mixes.  Norris suggests that silence has some rewards and many costs.  She seeks to uncover and encourage real conversation around family and race.

John Elder Robison 11/13/2013

John RobisonLook Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's: John Robison grew up with Asperger's Syndrome during a time when few knew what to make of it. With no idea how to pass for normal, and undiagnosed until the age of 40, he nevertheless lived a full life. Robison offers a darkly humorous glimpse of Asperger's as a difference, not a disability.  In his memoir, Robison recounts his idiosyncratic life with details of overcoming enormous odds: from an anti-social child to a successful father now running a multi-million dollar car specialty shop and his own photography business. Robison currently is an adjunct professor at Elms College in Massachusetts and is involved in autism research at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre.

Emily Bazelon 10/23/2013

Emily BazzeloniSticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy: Emily Bazelon is a senior editor at Slate, and a New York Times Magazine contributing writer.  Her investigative journalism, compelling storytelling and extensive legal knowledge, makes her a leading authority on bullying in the cyber age: what constitutes bullying? What are the roles of personality traits, such as “grit,” character, and empathy, to overcome childhood trauma and find social success? What do recent cases of bullying tell us about how the issue has changed over the years?  How are people using technologies—mobile phones, social media, texting—to both spread and combat bullying? See the [Bullying ... In the News] tab for articles on this topic.

Reza Aslan 4/16/2014


Youth Revolt: The Future of the Middle East:  Reza AslanReza Aslan addresses the topics of Islam, the Middle East, and Muslim Americans with authority, wit, and an infectious optimism. He speaks for a young generation of Muslims—socially conscious, politically active, and technologically savvy.  A new generation of young people clamoring for their rights and freedoms, with a vision that represents their values, not the values of  a ruling elite of previous generations.  Author of No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam, Aslan reveals the nature of these historic societal changes. He unravels the complexities of the new Middle East and shows us what the future holds for this oft-misunderstood part of the world.  Aslan is President and CEO of Aslan Media Inc.

Susan Cain - Wednesday, March 13, 2013

"Susan Cain is a former corporate lawyer and negotiations consultant—and a self-described introvert. Her book has sparked a genuine national conversa
Susan Cain
tion about introverts. Although our culture undervalues them dramatically, introverts have made some of the great contributions to society—from Chopin’s nocturnes to the invention of the personal computer to Gandhi’s transformative leadership. Based on intensive research in psychology and neurobiology, Cain argues that we design our schools, workplaces, and religious institutions for extroverts, and that this bias creates a waste of talent, energy, and happiness." (Woodrick Diversity Learning Center)

LZ Granderson - Wednesday, February 13, 2013

LZ GrandersonLZ GRANDERSON - Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Journalist, Commentator, Sports Writer

Dare You to Move

LZ Granderson writes a weekly column for, and is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN The Magazine and  He is a contributor to ESPN’s Sports Center, Outside the Lines and First Take. This former Detroit gang member rose to be selected a Hechinger Fellow at Columbia University. LZ’s commentary, reaches well beyond the world of athletics tackling subjects such as use of the N-word in the black community, the presence of gays in the locker room, and the truths and lies of reverse racism. Prior to joining ESPN, Mr. Granderson was a sports columnist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Grand Rapids Press.

Jeff Chang and Selected Resources on Multiculturalism

Jeff Chang - Wednesday, October 3, 2012Chang, Jeff
Author, Historian, Music Critic
Who We Be: The Colorization of America

Jeff Chang is a radical historian with both street cred and academic chops, Chang addresses multiculturalism, race relations, student activism, political engagement, the state of the arts, and the politics of abandonment. His book, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation is only ostensibly about hip-hop; it’s really a cultural history. In his follow-up, Who We Be, he traces the rise of multiculturalism - its roots, its triumphs, its commercialization - to tell a new, vibrant, and necessary people’s history. Jeff Chang is the Executive Director of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford University.

Jose Antonio Varga 10/2/2013

Jose VargaImmigration: Not Legal, Not Leaving: A journalist for over a decade writing for some of the most prestigious news organizations in the country, Jose Antonio Vargas’ learned his green card was a fake at age 16.  He knew he must hide this fact to avoid deportation. His journalism career flourished, yet the fear never ceased.  “This deceit never got easier. The more I did it, the more I felt like an impostor, the more guilt I carried — and the more I worried that I would get caught.” Vargas exposed his story in an essay, “Outlaw: My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant,” for the New York Times Magazine. Today Vargas runs Define American, a non-profit organization that seeks to elevate the conversation around immigration

Douglas Rushkoff - Tuesday, November 13, 2012

DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF - Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Author, Media Theorist, Lecturer

Digital Nation:  Douglas Rushkoff, Ph.D. is a graphic novelist and globally recognized media and technology theorist specializing in new media and internet culture. He originated several ideas ranging from “viral media” to “social currency” with insight on how interactive communications affect our society as we create, share, and influence each other’s values.  Rushkoff is a CNN commentator, author of 12 books, including the Gen-X Reader, Screenagers, Life Inc.: How Corporatism Conquered the World, and How We Can Take It Back. He is best known for his association with the early cyberpunk culture, and his advocacy of open source solutions to social problems.

Kambri Crews - Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Kambri Crews once lived with her deaf parents in a tin shed in Montgomery, Texas. She now runs her own PR and production company in New York City and is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir, Burn Down the Ground, her story of overcoming poverty, violence and near-crippling adversity. Crews uses comedic storytelling with brutal honesty and fearless humor and inspires with her motto and guiding philosophy, “Life’s Tough, Laugh More.” She is a co-producer of the ECNY Awards and has produced dozens of shows featuring comedians and writers from The Onion, The Daily Show to Saturday Night Live.