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The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Community gathers to discuss race on campus

The Real Talk Conference: Bridging Race, Identity, and Community ascends on NIU
White letters say The Real Talk Conference: Bridging Race, Identity, and Community on red paint. The conference will feature conversations about ways to combat systematic racism and influence campus diversity from distinguished speakers. (Courtesy of Jami Kunzer)
White letters say “The Real Talk Conference: Bridging Race, Identity, and Community” on red paint. The conference will feature conversations about ways to combat systematic racism and influence campus diversity from distinguished speakers. (Courtesy of Jami Kunzer)

DeKALB – NIU is inviting the public to join the conversation on race, identity, community and the barriers that divide us. 

The Real Talk Conference: Bridging Race, Identity, and Community is the first of several annual events planned as part of NIU’s Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation initiative

The conference will feature a panel of nationally distinguished speakers and NIU faculty. Community members can participate in discussions on education, inclusivity, health, equity and other topics. 

“This event offers a unique platform for us to engage in meaningful conversations, explore our perspectives and promote dialogue within our community,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Clint-Michael Reneau in a statement to NIU Today. “By coming together to listen and learn from our distinguished speakers and one another, we can foster understanding and empathy.”

Featured speakers include:

  • Tia Brown McNair, vice president in the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Student Success and executive director for TRHT.
  • Ainka Jackson, founding executive director of the Selma Center for Nonviolence, Truth and Reconciliation. 
  • LaVonya Bennett, a psychologist specializing in justice and equity.
  • Michelle Donahoe, executive director of the DeKalb County History Center and appointed DeKalb County Historian in 2020. 
  • Caleb Stephens, a licensed master social worker and addiction counselor.

“This event has been in the works for years, and we are incredibly proud that our students are at the heart of it,” said Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer Carol Sumner in a statement to NIU Today. “As an educational institution, we are dedicated to providing our students and campus community with opportunities to learn, develop and collaborate. This is part of our ongoing commitment to be a community where we can freely discuss topics like race and identity while fostering a sense of community.” 

The event is free to the public and will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 27 at the Holmes Student Center. For more information or to register for the conference, visit the NIU website. Registration is encouraged by Friday, Oct. 20. 

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