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UW’s Shepard Symposium on Social Justice Outlines Schedule

April 8, 2021
Alex Myers and Rinku Sen

“Healing Communities” is the theme for the annual Shepard Symposium on Social Justice at the University of Wyoming.

A number of sessions and speakers are scheduled daily for the annual event, set Tuesday through Saturday, April 13-17. Events will be offered virtually. Registration is free, but organizers urge participants to sign up for online events to receive links to take part in live events or to access a recording later.

To register, go to

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.

Earlier this week, as part of the symposium, UW’s Good Mule Project and Multicultural Affairs hosted speaker Pattie Gonia, an advocate for the environment; for inclusivity and diversity in the outdoors; and for the LGBTQ+ community.

Among the highlights of this year’s Shepard Symposium are:

-- Wednesday, April 14, 5 p.m.: “Multicultural Affairs Speaker Series Presents: Continental Divide with Author Alex Myers.” His novel “Continental Divide” tells the story of a transgender Harvard student who is cut off from his family, journeys west and finds adventure, danger and romance in Wyoming.

The novel explores gender and masculinity in the West, and the experience of navigating across geographies and cultures as a transgender person. The book is based, in part, on Myers’ own real-life experience in Wyoming, where he lived and worked for a summer outside Cody in 1997.

-- Thursday, April 15, 12:15 p.m.: Speaker Rinku Sen is the former president and executive director of Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation, and the publisher of Colorlines, the award-winning news site. Race Forward brings systemic analysis and an innovative approach to complex race issues to help people take effective action toward racial equity through research, media and practice.

-- Friday, April 16, 1 p.m.: Speakers Chip Brantley and Andrew Beck Grace are co-creators and co-hosts of “White Lies,” an investigative podcast from National Public Radio that explores the 1965 unsolved murder of James Reeb in Selma, Ala.

Brantley is the author of the book, “The Perfect Fruit,” and his work has appeared in Slate, Gourmet, the Oxford American, The New York Times and The Washington Post. He was the creative producer of “Whitman, Alabama,” an experimental documentary that was a 2018 Emmy nominee in the New Approaches in Documentary category.

Grace’s nonfiction film work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and on PBS’ “Independent Lens.” His interactive documentary, “After the Storm,” has been exhibited internationally and was nominated for an Emmy Award in the New Approaches in Documentary category.

Other workshops, wellness programs, music and awards will be presented during the event. For a full list of events, visit the Shepard Symposium on Social Justice website at

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