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Inaugural DEI Community Read Takes Up Racism, Slavery and Higher Education

By Tom Durso

The College of Arts and Sciences weekly 'community read' of the book "Ebony & Ivy" starts on January 14. The class is free and open to all.


December 18, 2020

As she planned the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Community Read she will lead in the winter and spring terms, Amelia Hoover Green, PhD, sought to foster conversations between people of different backgrounds – to “put people in the metaphorical room,” as she says.

In choosing Ebony & Ivy, Craig Steven Wilder’s well-regarded examination of the historical role of race and slavery in American higher education, Hoover Green and the College of Arts and Sciences (CoAS) DEI Advisory Group are directing that conversation inward, to the university system of which Drexel is a part.

“The book doesn’t talk about Drexel directly, because it ends before we were founded, but the themes are just so present,” says Hoover Green, CoAS’ associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion. “I think it’ll be a good conversation starter.”

The Community Read is being offered as a 1-credit special-topics course in politics in the winter and spring, open to all Drexel students. Community members and faculty, staff and alumni from the entire University are also invited to participate, at no cost. Meetings are from 6 to 6:50 p.m. on Thursdays and will be conducted via Zoom. Hoover Green will stick around afterward to facilitate information conversation.

With readings from Ebony & Ivy providing the backdrop, the course will examine and discuss the intersection of American colleges and universities with slavery, displacement and colonization. Guest lecturers from the University of Virginia, Swarthmore College, Michigan State University and Yale University, along with Drexel’s Linda Kim, PhD, associate professor of art history, and local speakers, will offer their perspectives and speak with Community Read participants. Drexel’s Writers Room, Lindy Center for Civic Engagement, Dornsife School of Public Health, and Libraries are assisting in outreach to community members.

“I am really hoping that people can come together and talk to one another about their experiences,” Hoover Green says. “I want to build some substantive bridges between the community and the University, and talk about the experiences of racially minoritized people in the University and in Philadelphia.”

Register for the course