WESTFIELD—On Friday, March 25, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Westfield State University will host the 7th Annual Cross-Cultural Symposium, “Equal Rights and Justice in a Challenging Season: Honoring the Humanity of All,” in Scanlon Banquet Hall. Keynote speakers will be New England Public Media reporter Nirvani Williams and Staceyann Chin, an internationally renowned poet and performing artist.
The symposium brings together speakers from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, fields and organizations to address several pressing concerns related to justice and equity in the United States and the larger world community. Panelists will address, among other topics, the role of faith, the urgency of addressing socio-economic and race-based disparities, learning differences, and immigrant and LGBTQ+ rights.
Williams reports for New England Public Media as part of the station's equity desk, covering socio-economic disparities in western Massachusetts. She comes to NEPM through Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities. It is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, a nonprofit journalism organization. Prior to her appointment at NEPM, Williams was the associate editor of Seema, an online publication dedicated to spreading more stories about women in the Indian diaspora.
Chin is a poet, actor, performing artist and LGBTQ+ social justice advocate. Originally from Jamaica, but now living in Brooklyn, Chin is the author of the poetry collection, Crossfire: A Litany For Survival, and the critically acclaimed memoir The Other Side of Paradise. She is cowriter and original performer in the Tony Award-winning Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam on Broadway, and is author of the one-woman shows, Hands Afire, Unspeakable Things, Border/Clash, and Motherstruck. She has been featured on 60 Minutes and has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
Williams will speak at 9:15 a.m., and Chin at 2 p.m. Other panelists will speak throughout the day. The event is free and open to the public.
The symposium will be back in person for the first time since 2019. The 2021 session was held virtually. Dr. Emily Todd, professor and chair of the English Department at Westfield State said, "We are so excited to be hosting the 7th Annual Cross-Cultural Symposium as an in-person event at Westfield State again, after three long years. Professor Carol Bailey has worked with colleagues across many disciplines and with our own students to organize a full day of impressive speakers, and we encourage members of the public to join in what promises to be an enriching and meaningful conversation."