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New UNI program aims to spark community conversation about racial injustice, systemic change

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (KWWL) -- A new University of Northern Iowa program is looking to expose participants to new issues, ideas, and local resources about racial injustice and systemic change.

The program, Cultivating Justice: A Quest Toward Racial Equity launched on Monday. The emailed weekly newsletter is sponsored by the Office of the Provost.

"We’re hoping that this project will really challenge how people think and prompt some self-reflection about social and racial issues that people might not be aware of," Communication & Media Professor Danielle McGeough said. "The materials in this program will help guide participants to cultivate habits of consciously and consistently practicing anti-racism and start to take action towards change."

For six weeks, the project will release a weekly newsletter that includes essays, videos, performances, artwork, music, podcasts, toolkits, events, and more, along with questions for individuals or groups to contemplate and answer afterwards. McGeough says it will take about two hours each week to consume and reflect on the material.

Among many materials and resources, the program will include a spoken-word performance by Yaw Kyeremateng, a UNI alum and 2013 Homecoming King. It explores reactions to his West African accent, code-switching, and the dissonance of existing in the space between his Ghanian ancestral roots and his Americanized speech.

Other weeks will feature artwork from UNI first year Studio Art major Tevka Lackmann, which honors the lives of Elijah McClain, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd and calls for continued conversations to end police brutality and racial inequity.

The program will also include a video from the 2020 Cedar Valley Fashion, Art, and Culture Expo that celebrates Black creatives and innovators and showcases Black arts through music, clothing lines, dance and more.

"This project is going to bring together a whole bunch of people who all believe this work is important, and some of them are excited and some are fearful," UNI STEM Coordinator Marcy Seavey said. "Some are looking for help and others are trying to figure out how to help. For some, this is their everyday work and for others it will be new. Some need to be heard and some need to listen. I think the project will open up new partnerships and collaborations, but also it will be inspiring to see how many people step-up and participate."

Anyone interested in participating in the program can register here.

Trevor Oates

Executive Producer

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