Diversity Forum will feature more than 80 programs


Pitt’s annual Diversity Forum will feature speakers discussing systems of oppression in the U.S. and how they’ve affected its citizens.

The forum, “Dismantling Oppressive Systems: Building Just Communities,” will take place virtually from July 26 to 29.

Ron Idoko, the diversity and multi-cultural program manager for the Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, said more than 80 programs and workshops have been scheduled for the forum so far.

“Our workshops and programs, they run the gamut, covering issues in education, public health, criminal justice, immigration, you name it,” Idoko said. “So definitely, there’s something for everyone. And what we hope is that everyone can find value in the experience.”

The theme of the forum is in line with Chancellor Patrick Gallagher’s calls for more action to improve systemic equity at Pitt, Idoko said.

“We’re thinking diligently in terms of how do we best position our community, our University community, and certainly, our regional community and beyond to do the work,” Idoko said.

Additionally, a Pre-Forum Institute will take place from July 26 to 27. It will be a course designed to help people develop their understanding of issues surrounding race and equity. The Pitt community also is encouraged to submit virtual poster presentation proposals by July 21.

Idoko’s office and the Center for Creativity are accepting submissions for the Art of Diversity showcase, where winners in each of its major categories can win $500 while runner-ups receive $250.

Some of the forum’s featured speakers include:

  • Anthony Ray Hinton, who was wrongfully convicted of two murders and spent 30 years on death row in Alabama until his exoneration in 2015.

  • Keisha Blain, an associate professor of History at Pitt, and co-editor of the bestselling “Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019.”

  • Jules Gill-Peterson, author of “Histories of the Transgender Child” and the upcoming book “Gender Underground: A History of Trans DIY.”

  • Russell Jeung, a co-founder of the Stop AAPI Hate, which tracks incidents of hate against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the U.S.

Idoko said he hopes that attendees leave the forum more educated on issues of equity, diversity and inclusion and with a better understanding of what systemic oppression looks like and what tools they can use to address the issues. 

“We want people to feel much more positioned to foster a society that we all hope to see and recognize,” Idoko said. “And that starts with education. It starts with dialogue. And then ultimately, it needs to translate that into work.”

Donovan Harrell is a writer for the University Times. Reach him at dharrell@pitt.edu or 412-383-9905.


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