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  • Series brings more antiracist perspectives to Sac State

    From left, Maureen Gillette, Gloria Ladson-Bilings, Kevin Kumashiro, and Rich Milner will bring timely perspective to the "Leading with Justice" speaker series. (Courtesy photos)

    By Jonathan Morales

    Sacramento State’s Doctorate in Educational Leadership program is launching a virtual webinar series aimed at leveraging national expertise into local action on issues of equity and antiracist education.

    The series, “Leading with Justice,” comes as the University has renewed its commitment to antiracism and inclusivity in response to local and nationwide demands for racial justice.

    The program, running throughout October, will invite Sacramento State education students, local K-12 district administrators and teachers, and partners including the Black Child Legacy Campaign and the Sierra Health Foundation to hear from nationally known experts in educational equity.

    The goal is to bring local stakeholders together and jump-start action on making the region’s school and social systems more equitable, program director Vajra Watson said.

    Assemblymember Jose Medina, principal author of legislation requiring ethnic studies in California high schools, is among the distinguished speakers scheduled to appear. (Courtesy photo)

    “We're setting the context to have hard conversations, to think about action agendas in this region and what it means for each one of us, in our spheres of influence, to disrupt inequalities,” she said. “I'm hoping that the webinars are going to be informative and inspirational and serve as a catalyst to elevate leadership throughout this region.”

    With the necessary virtual setting eliminating the speakers’ need to travel to Sacramento, Watson was able to attract award-winning scholars whose work on racial justice, policy, and community-based research has changed educators' thinking about learning and social change.

     Series speakers include:

    • Oct. 7, noon: Rich Milner, Cornelius Vanderbilt Distinguished Professor of Education at Vanderbilt University, a leading scholar of urban teacher education.
    • Oct. 10, 10:30 a.m.: Jose Medina, state assemblymember and principal author of legislation mandating ethnic studies in California high schools.
    • Oct. 14, noon: Kevin Kumashiro, an internationally recognized expert on educational policy, school reform, and former dean of at the University of San Francisco's School of Education.
    • Oct. 21, noon: Gloria Ladson-Billings, president of the National Academy of Education and author of several critically acclaimed books, who is among experts credited with bringing critical race theory into education.
    • Oct. 28, noon: Maureen Gillette, dean of the College of Education and Human Services at Seton Hall University, who developed a grassroots teacher pipeline program in Chicago.
    • Register for the webinars

    Watson said the speakers embody the theme of “Leading with Justice,” which was chosen to emphasize that “who we are shapes how we lead.”

    “These scholars are at the top of their disciplines, and they also seek to embody justice as more than a goal, but a way of life,” she said.

    “I'm hoping that the webinars are going to be informative and inspirational and serve as a catalyst to elevate leadership throughout this region.”

    In response to nationwide protests for change after the police killings of Stephon Clark, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black people, Sacramento State has renewed its commitment to racial justice. President Robert S. Nelsen has called for members of the campus community to join him in crafting an antiracism plan. The University called an antiracism convocation on Sept. 29 in support of that effort.

    The webinar series, Watson said, fits with Sac State’s efforts to critically examine its own history and its role within higher education “to address and strategically eliminate institutionalized racism.”

    “Sac State is in a really unique place in these conversations about what it means to be an anchor university, what it means to move a system towards an ecosystem of equity,” she said.

    “As we grapple with how to move systems towards inclusive practices, it’s imperative that we’re critical and informed. This speaker series is a small step in this direction. I hope people within and beyond the University will join us for this essential conversation with key experts.”

    A similar speaker series is scheduled for February.

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