Race and Identity Dialogue Series

Lander University will present a Race and Identity Dialogue series of virtual presentations and discussions beginning in January. South Carolina Humanities supported this programming with a Major Grant.

The program series is offered by Lander’s College of Behavioral and Social Sciences and sponsored by the university’s Diversity Advisory Council. The series joins other campus programming to address issues of justice, diversity, equity and inclusion.

Free and open to the public as well as members of the Lander community, the Race and Identity Dialogue series features virtual sessions that bring together scholars, civic and campus leaders, and students for the purpose of encouraging dialogue about race and identity. All participants will register for a session and be provided readings and other materials to review. Each session includes a presentation and opportunities for dialogue through question-and-answer sessions with speakers and discussion leaders.

Each session in the series will take place virtually on the platform Crowdcast, from 5:30-7 p.m. on the following dates:

  • Jan. 21 – An Introduction to the Series: Prejudice, Privilege and Power
  • Feb. 4 – The Story of Dr. Benjamin E. Mays
  • Feb. 18 – Personal Writing as Personal Reckoning
  • Mar. 9 – Letters on Blackness: Exploring African American Literature
  • Mar. 11 – African American Voices: A Poetry Workshop  
  • Mar. 25 – Parenting and Telling Stories to Children
  • Apr. 8 – Race, Politics and Civic Action
  • Apr. 22 – Civic Engagement and Your Own Story

To register for a session, visit www.lander.edu/ridialogue. Once registered, the Crowdcast platform allows participants to add events to their personal electronic calendars.

Series speakers include:

  • Dr. Todd Shaw, distinguished associate professor of political science and African American Studies at the University of South Carolina;
  • Ms. Mamie Nicholson, president of the Self Family Foundation;
  • Rev. Chris Thomas, director of the GLEAMNS Dr. Benjamin E. Mays Historical Preservation Site;
  • Dr. Demario Watts, director of Student Activities at Lander; and
  • Lander faculty members in English, history, political science, psychology and sociology.

Lander students will have an opportunity to tell their own stories in submissions to one of Lander’s student publications: The Forum campus newspaper; and New Voices, the campus literary magazine.

The series is directed by Rev. Alexis Carter Thomas, part-time faculty member of religion; and Dr. Shaunette Parker, visiting lecturer of psychology. Thomas said, “Too often we have failed to adequately educate and carve out space to discuss how race and identity has shaped the land and lives of this nation.  This series is an attempt to do this necessary work.” 

Parker added, “This Dialogue is an opportunity for all people to grow together.”

The spring sessions build upon pilot programming that was offered in Fall 2020 for Lander students, staff and faculty through a grant from the Self Family Foundation of Greenwood. “Our fall sessions showed that students were eager for these conversations and benefited from self-reflections. By learning about Dr. Mays – an educator and activist from Greenwood County – and through speakers’ skills in creating conversations, I am confident that any participant will learn about themselves, others and our society,” said Dr. Lucas McMillan, dean of Lander’s College of Behavioral and Social Sciences.

Structured as a series of presentations and question-and-answer sessions, the Race and Identity Dialogue aims to model good dialogue in a contentious social environment, and provide knowledge, create awareness and demonstrate skills for successful community and civic engagement. Visit www.lander.edu/ridialogue, or call 864-388-8176 for more information.

The mission of SC Humanities is to enrich the cultural and intellectual lives of all South Carolinians. Established in 1973, this 501(c) 3 organization is governed by a volunteer 21-member Board of Directors comprised of community leaders from throughout the state. It presents and/or supports literary initiatives, lectures, exhibits, festivals, publications, oral history projects, videos and other humanities-based experiences that directly or indirectly reach more than 250,000 citizens annually.