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story.lead_photo.caption FILE: William Woods University concluded its annual diversity and equality symposium Wednesday night.

After a year off, William Woods University's diversity and equality symposium will return next week.

The university's fifth "Bridging Differences: Conversations on Gender, Race and Equality" will be presented in a mostly virtual format.

The online offerings will be open to the public for viewing.

"We established the symposium five years ago as college campuses and our nation wrestled with issues of race relations, sexual misconduct, equality and free speech, and it is clear that in 2021, the need for such dialogue is as important as ever," WWU President Jahnae H. Barnett said.

The symposium will kick off at 3:30 p.m. Monday with an on-campus screening of "John Lewis: Good Trouble." This film screening will be limited to 28 WWU attendees.

At 7 p.m. Monday, keynote speaker Dr. Andrea Boyles will discuss intersectionality and racism over Zoom.

Boyles is an author and scholar who focuses on the intersectionality of race, class and gender, as well as criminology and incarceration. The title of Boyles' presentation is "Unpacking the Matrix: Learning Racism as an Intersecting Sphere of Discrimination."

"Racism is intersectional," according to a description of the lecture. "It is part of an interlocking system — whereby race, gender, class and other social locations overlap and simultaneously give way to interactive discrimination."

At 5 p.m. Tuesday, WWU Board of Trustees members retired Maj. Gen. Byron Bagby and Vicki Wilkerson will share stories centered on diversity and inclusion in their lives.

Bagby attended Westminster College and is a member of the Fulton Public Schools Foundation Hall of Fame, as well as a Kingdom of Callaway Supper honoree. Bagby spent 33 years in the U.S. Army.

Wilkerson grew up in Auxvasse and graduated from William Woods in 1977. Since then, she has worked in the legal and technology fields.

At 7 p.m. Tuesday, spoken word artist Alex Tha Great will perform virtually.

At 7 p.m. Wednesday, the symposium will close with a virtual panel discussion on gender, race, trauma and mental health. Moderated by Bagby, six men from Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate historically Black Greek-lettered fraternity, will participate.

The men — including Morgan State University professor Anthony Estreet, social worker David Cephus, Lone Star College outreach and recruitment specialist Donald Chamberlain, Long Island University professor Telvis Rich and Illinois State University professor Nathan Stephens — will discuss their experiences in social work and how the profession has impacted the Black community.

The symposium is a result of a donation by former WWU associate professor Mary Mosley, who hoped for the university to be known as a leader in addressing important social issues.

"William Woods will always be committed to fostering a diverse, inclusive and respectful campus environment," Barnett said. "And the discussions we are about to once again engage in reflect that."

Learn more about the events and how to participate at bit.ly/3tOHLQo.

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