Civil rights advocate, writer Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw to be speaker, Sept. 27, for URI Diversity Week, Honors Colloquium

Nationally renowned storyteller Len Cabral to give interactive workshop, Sept. 29

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Lawyer and scholar Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, who will give the keynote talk, Sept. 27, at the University of Rhode Island’s 20th annual Diversity Week. Photo courtesy of the Multicultural Student Services Center

KINGSTON, R.I. – Sept. 14, 2016 – Civil rights advocate, feminist scholar and lawyer Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw will give the keynote talk at the University of Rhode Island’s 20th annual Diversity Week this month.

Crenshaw will talk about race, gender and education at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27 in Edwards Auditorium on the Kingston campus. The talk, also part of URI’s Honor Colloquium “Inequality and the American Dream’’ is free and open to the public.

Diversity Week, Sept. 22 through 30, explores ways to overcome inequality through social justice, theater, arts, culture and opportunities in science, math, engineering and technology. The events are open to the campus community and public.

“The Multicultural Student Services Center is pleased to coordinate the annual URI Diversity Week, the largest in New England higher education,’’ says Melvin Wade, center director. “We ask that you join a veritable feast of more than 75 workshops and events as we work together to create a campus, a nation and a world in which fairness and equity are the norms.”

Crenshaw is a leading scholar of critical race theory. She is a professor at the UCLA School of Law and Columbia University School of Law, where she specializes in race and gender issues.

She is known for her “intersectional theory,’’ the study of how overlapping social identities, particularly minority identities, relate to oppression, domination and discrimination.

Crenshaw earned a bachelor’s degree in government and Africana studies from Cornell University in 1981 and a law degree from Harvard Law School in 1984. She is a founder of the field of critical race theory and a lecturer on civil rights, race studies and constitutional law.

In 1995, Crenshaw was appointed a full professor at Columbia Law School, where she is the founder and director of the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies, established in 2011.

The following year, she co-founded the nonprofit think tank, The African American Policy Forum, which focuses on issues of gender and diversity. Its mission is to build bridges between scholarly research and public discourse involving inequality and discrimination.

Crenshaw has been awarded the Fulbright Chair for Latin America in Brazil, and in 2008, she was awarded an in-residence fellowship at the Center of Advanced Behavioral Studies at Stanford. In 1991, Crenshaw assisted the legal team representing Anita Hill at the U.S. Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Nationally acclaimed storyteller Len Cabral will give a workshop Sept. 29 for Diversity Week at the University of Rhode Island. Photo by Jim Hooper
Nationally acclaimed storyteller Len Cabral will give a workshop Sept. 29 for Diversity Week at the University of Rhode Island. Photo by Jim Hooper

Sponsored by the Multicultural Student Services Center, the Office of Community, Equity and Diversity, the College of Nursing, the Honors Colloquium, URI 101, and Trinity Repertory Theatre, URI Diversity Week celebrates the importance of diversity and identity in higher education, the workplace and the world. The theme for 2016 is “American Inequality.”

Other events planned for the week include:

Diversity for students in science, technology, engineering and math. Talk from 9:30 a.m. to noon Sept. 22 is coordinated by Catalina Martinez, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Michelle Fontes-Barros, of the College of the Environment and Life Sciences.

One Minute Plays: Our Response. Performances from 1 to 5 p.m. Spet. 23 in the Memorial Union, Ballroom. Coordinated by Dominic D’Andrea, producing artistic director and founder of the One Minute Play Festival, and Joe Wilson Jr., of Trinity Repertory Company.

Mississippi Freedom Summer Documentary Interviews. A talk between participants in the Freedom Summer civil rights movement and high school students. Noon to 1 p.m., Sept. 26, Multicultural Student Services Center.

Who Milks the Cows? A look at the dreams and realities of immigrant dairy workers from Mexico. 9:30 to 10:45 a.m., Sept. 27, Multicultural Student Services Center.

Rule Yourself. A look at Tom Brady, Donald Trump, the “disturbing banality of American militarization,’’ and the “law and order impulse’’ of 2016. 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., Sept. 27, Multicultural Student Services Center.

Reducing Health Disparities. Events Sept. 28 at the Multicultural Student Services Center sponsored by the URI College of Nursing. Among the talks: Enhancing health equity through diversity in nursing, the economics of healthy food choices, caring for the same sex family, health care of women in prison, strategies for increasing and retaining diverse students and faculty, and the experience of transgender and non-conforming teens.

My Story: Changing the Heartbeat of Our Communities One Story at a Time. Featuring Cheryl Trudel, executive assistant for University Events at URI, and Len Cabral, an award-winning nationally acclaimed storyteller. Participants are asked to share a personal experience involving prejudice or social injustice. The session will be from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 29 at the Multicultural Student Services Center.

“By sharing stories about social injustice we make ourselves vulnerable,’’ says Trudel. “These vulnerabilities allow us to trust, opening our hearts to greater compassion and understanding for each other. We hope students and community members join us for this enlightening event.’’

The Movement for Blacks Lives: Emergence of a New Civil Rights Movement in the United States. Noon to 12:50 p.m. Sept. 30 in the Multicultural Student Services Center. The talk explores a new movement that explores a broad political agenda.

Seating is limited. For more information about URI Diversity Week, visit or call 401-874-2851.