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Annual Shepard Symposium on Social Justice April 20-23 at UW

April 13, 2022
woman holding a book
Kate Kelly

“Rebuilding From the Roots” is the theme for this spring’s Shepard Symposium on Social Justice April 20-23 at the University of Wyoming. A number of free public sessions are scheduled daily for the 25th annual event.

The Shepard Symposium has grown from a local grassroots event to an internationally recognized conference. Originally named “The Symposium for the Eradication of Social Inequality” by former UW College of Education faculty members Omowale Akintunde and Margaret Cooney 25 years ago, the annual event was renamed to honor the work of the Shepard family and the memory of their son, Matthew Shepard, a UW student who was murdered in 1998.

Following its “Rebuilding From the Roots” theme, the Shepard Symposium organizers invite participants to consider how to “reconceptualize both the processes and the outcomes of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in all of its various shapes.”

Various workshops and discussions are planned throughout the symposium to tackle ongoing DEI issues.

“The 2022 Shepard Symposium on Social Justice seeks to reenvision and rebuild the idea of creating change, with the goal of examining systems from their roots to create solutions from the ground up with the intent of integrating equitable methodologies into our daily lives,” according to the event’s committee.

Christi Boggs, a UW Ellbogen Center for Teaching and Learning senior lecturer, and Danielle Cover, a Wyoming Excellence Chair and College of Law professor, are co-chairs of the symposium.

Preregistration for the conference is urged because the symposium will be a hybrid conference with both in-person sessions and virtual presentations. To register, go to www.shepardsymposium.weebly.com/registration.html to receive links to various sessions.

Among the highlights of the annual Shepard Symposium are:

-- The film screening of “The Loyola Project” and a panel discussion at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 19, in the UW College of Education auditorium.

The documentary, set in 1963 at the height of the civil rights movement, tells the story of the Loyola Ramblers of Chicago, who broke racial barriers and changed college basketball forever. Now, nearly 60 years later, Loyola basketball player and co-captain Lucas Williamson reexamines the legendary team. Woven together with archival footage and modern-day interviews, the “captivating story continues to provide inspiration in the fight for equality.”

After the film’s screening, a panel discussion will take place. Among the panelists are Mary Beth Brown, a UW American Heritage Center associate archivist; Cowboys basketball player Xavier DuSell, from Scottsdale, Ariz.; and John Griffin, a member of UW’s Black 14 from Denver, Colo.

UW’s Social Justice Research Center, UW Athletics and the Shepard Symposium on Social Justice sponsor the event.

For more information about "The Loyola Project," visit www.theloyolaproject.com/.

-- Kate Kelly, an American activist and human rights attorney, is the symposium’s keynote speaker. Her talk is at noon Thursday, April 21, in the Wyoming Union Ballroom.

Kelly, a “zealous advocate and passionate activist,” received her undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University and her law degree from American University’s Washington College of Law, the only law school in the world founded by, and for, women. She graduated cum laude in 2012 and received the Class of 2012 Peter M. Cicchino Award for Outstanding Advocacy in the Public Interest. She is a vocal women’s rights champion in the U.S. and around the world.

She believes the simple and popular adage that women’s rights are human rights. She is committed to legal advocacy and education for women and other marginalized groups. Kelly is a nationally known advocate for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and host of the podcast “Ordinary Equality.” She has a forthcoming book, “Ordinary Equality,” about the history of the women who have shaped the U.S. Constitution.

Kelly will discuss “Changing our nation’s most foundational document to be gender inclusive” during her symposium keynote address. She will focus on how women, queer people, and enslaved and Indigenous people were all left out of the nation’s foundational document -- on purpose. She adds that the Constitution can be more inclusive -- with the pending ratification of the ERA -- which will greatly benefit the LGBTQIA community.

For more information about Kelly’s keynote address, visit the Shepard Symposium schedule at www.shepardsymposium.weebly.com/schedule.html and find her talk at noon Thursday, April 21.

-- The Laramie Community-University Climate Summit from noon-4 p.m. Friday, April 22, in the Wyoming Union Family Room. The event will feature regional and local speakers, including a presentation on emissions reduction recommendations from Laramie’s joint community-university climate action taskforce. Laramie, Albany County and UW community members will have the opportunity to provide feedback on various issues during the climate summit.

For more information, email sustainability.coalition.uwyo@gmail.com.

For a full list of events, visit the Shepard Symposium on Social Justice website at www.shepardsymposium.weebly.com/.

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