2017 Speaker Series

Brought to you with help from a First Unitarian Endowment Fund REACH Grant

Upcoming Sunday Seminars:

“The Everyday Struggle for Equal Rights”

May 21, 1 – 3 pm
with Joshua V. Barr, Esq., Executive Director of Des Moines’ Civil and Human Rights Commission

Joshua V. Barr will speak on how, despite 50 plus years after the signing of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965, the struggle for equal rights continues here in the United States. This presentation will focus on gaps in wealth, education, etc., and offer solutions to bridging these gaps so that all persons, regardless of color, can move up the socio-economic ladder in a society that values capital over humanity.

Previous Workshops and Seminars:

The Other Side of the Coin: White Anti-Racist Thinking and Action

Saturday, January 21, 9 am – 5 pm
with Jennifer Harvey, Ph.D., Drake University

This seminar is open to people all of racial and ethnic identities who are interested in exploring the challenges and possibilities white racial identity poses for white peoples’ abilities to sustain robust and creative anti-racist activity in solidarity with people of color. The goal for our work together is to enable those of us who are white to become more able to live into such solidarity in our personal, communal and political lives.
Registration is now FULL, but you may added to the waiting list: click here to register
(child care requests must be made by Jan. 14).


“Des Moines’ 21st Century Jim Crow”

January 15, 1 – 3 pm
with Corey Harris, DMPS’ Director of Middle Schools

The purpose of this session is to raise the awareness of community partners and concerned citizens regarding a glaring wrong that we have been living with and somehow have been unable and/or unwilling to address. The pervasiveness of “colorblind” ideology along with affirmative action efforts seem to have blurred our vision of educational excellence for ALL students to the point that we know and don’t know the truth about the educational experiences and academic performance of minority children, especially black children.


“Iowans & the Struggles Against Anti-Black Racism”

February 19, 1 – 3 pm
with Katy Swalwell, Ph.D., Iowa State University

How has anti-Black racism been woven into the fabric of our state from its earliest days? How have communities organized to fight against it? And what can we learn from these struggles in our attempts to fight for racial justice today? Hear stories about Iowans past and present working in the courts, schools, neighborhoods, and industry to disrupt (or perpetuate) racism in Iowa.



Black Lives Matter Panel

February 26, 1 – 3 pm
with Kaija Carter, Kamilla Camp-Bey, and Courtnei Caldwell

Activists will share their thoughts and experiences from the Black Lives Matter movement, explaining how this work differs from other black liberation movements. Using specific moments that illustrate the journeys they’ve traveled, panelists will describe the oppression they are resisting, share the vision of the world they are working toward, and explain how to support their continued efforts.


“Racism & Class Struggle in the 21st Century”

March 26, 1 – 3 pm
with Kevin Lam, Ph.D.

This session explores how our understanding of race is complicated by our understanding of class. By illustrating the connections between these intersecting oppressions, Dr. Lam demonstrates the way concepts of identity are shaped by our history and institutions.

“The Roots of Racism: When History Intersected with Science”

April 23, 1 – 2:30 pm
with Karen Laroux, Ph.D.

Was it always this way? The association of skin color and race is a surprisingly modern development. Colonialism and early science shaped the way Americans understood skin color, creating a new definition of race — one that persists today. Join us to learn how earlier generations understood race, how scientists contributed to changing the meanings attached to race and whether history suggests we can change how we think about race.