Texas State hosts Virtual Day of Reflection and Solidarity
On June 19, Texas State University held a special Virtual Day of Reflection and Solidarity open to all. It featured two university panels made up of Black faculty and students and third group representing community faith leaders. More than 250 people participated in the five-hour (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) online event.
In an email inviting the Texas State community to participate, President Denise Trauth wrote: “The heart of our Texas State University community is hurting, struggling with the continued fight against our nation’s long and deadly history of racial injustices. We feel the need to be engaged, to speak up, to comfort one another, and to learn from each other.”
The purpose of the event, outlined by the Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion, was to provide the university community with a time to:
- Recognize and acknowledge the challenges, grief, and struggles we are collectively experiencing in our world, nation, and university community and work to create a more racially just and equitable world and society.
- Acknowledge our ability to work together to build the kind of society and learning community we all want to take part in and be part of.
- To reflect, mourn, and contemplate, as a means to validate the experience of our collective humanity; and
- To affirm the university’s support of these and other ongoing actions during these difficult times.
“Considering it was the first time we’ve ever done something like this, I feel it was a very important first step for our community in engaging the topic of race and racism more specifically,” said Dr. Sherri Benn, Assistant Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for Student Initiatives. “The kinds of discussions during the event were the kind that are pretty typical for members of the Black community and diverse communities. These are dinner table conversations that we engage in – kind of on an ongoing basis simply because we have grown up with the preeminence of race within our lives. The unique thing is that these are conversations that ended up being opened to the public sphere and to the community as a whole.”
The first half of the webinar opened with an introduction by President Trauth and featured faculty and administration including Dr. Benn; Dr. Dwight Watson, associate professor emeritus, Department of History; Dr. Scott Bowman, associate professor in the School of Criminal Justice and special assistant to the provost for Inclusion and Diversity; Dr. Dwonna Goldstone, director of the African American Studies Program; Dr. Maneka Deanna Brooks, assistant professor in Curriculum and Instruction in the College of Education; and Dr. Marcus Johnson, assistant professor in Curriculum and Instruction. Dr. Valarie Fleming, chair and professor in the Department of Communication Disorders, College of Health Professions served as moderator. Moderators shared participants’ questions with the panelists. (Pictured above)
Following a break for lunch, the webinar continued with a student panel consisting of Cathie Jean, Corey Benbow, Dizzy Harrison, Kirby Glass, and Tyreonta Norman. Serving as moderator was Dr. Dana Fitzpatrick, coordinator DE&I.
The second half featured a trans-faith dialogue with guests from across the country. They included: the Rev. Dr. John Elford, senior pastor of University UMC Austin; the Rev. Dr. Valerie Bridgeman, dean and vice president of Academic Affairs at Methodist Theological School in Ohio and president and CEO of WomanPreach!; Rabbi Nate DeGroot, Hazon Detroit associate director and spiritual & program director; and Dr. Najeeba Syeed, associate professor in Muslim and Interreligious Studies, Chicago Theological Seminary