Presidential Lecture Series
Creighton University president Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, chose a focus of uplifting Black voices for a spring lecture series. The Kingfisher Institute was honored to help select and coordinate these events as part of our anti-racism focus. The first two events were held in-person and livestreamed, while the other two were livestreamed only.
- Edwidge Danticat, award-winning fiction and nonfiction writer
Feb. 9, 2022, 325+ participants
- Damon Tweedy, MD, memoirist and psychiatrist
Feb. 23, 2022, 250+ participants
- Colson Whitehead, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author
March 1, 2022, 400+ participants
- Isabel Wilkerson, bestselling author and award-winning journalist
March 24, 2022, 400+ participants
Institute-led efforts to maximize the reach of the series included:
- Creating a module in Culture Quest, online asynchronous course offered by Creighton Intercultural Center for faculty and staff to deepen knowledge of equity, diversity and inclusion
- Collecting resources for and working with University Libraries to publish a library guide for the Creighton community
- Coordinating interviews with Edwidge Danticat and Damon Tweedy for Creighton University’s “Threads of Equality” podcast
Isabel Wilkerson, bestselling author and award-winning journalist.
Spotlight: Edwidge Danticat
The renowned Haitian American author Edwidge Danticat spoke at Creighton as part of Fr. Hendrickson’s Presidential Lecture Series on Race. Her talk and Q&A reflected Kingfisher Institute’s mission of “Transcendent Perspectives for Transcendent Problems.” The conversation especially crystallized how her writing, which foregrounds the experiences of Haitian and Haitian American women in various literary forms—memoir, fiction, reportage—gives us concrete language to grapple with issues of race, gender, diaspora and imperialism. For example, in her Q&A with students, she suggested that we approach race with both wisdom and grace, and with insights gleaned from both learning and listening. She advised the students to look beyond their current comfort zones to see how they can make a difference in, but also learn from, the communities around campus.
Danticat’s impact was not limited to the audience at the event. Instead, the Institute’s incentive to integrate her books into the curriculum ensured that important discussions about race reverberated throughout campus and had a far-reaching impact. The students’ complex interpretations of her work were beyond impressive. In one classroom discussion that I led on Danticat’s collection of short stories Krik?Krak! the students highlighted the proximity they felt with her characters and reflected how the stories, mostly set in Haiti, spoke to them across differences of language and race. They connected histories of U.S. imperialism to current discussions of race and saw the transnational as intimately bound to the national.
It was the honor of my life to interview Danticat. It was a privilege to share and read her works with others. The conversation with Danticat reinforced the value of literature in helping us imagine alternative ways of being in this increasingly fragile world. It inspired us and gave us hope that it is possible to build meaningful and transformative solidarities.
In a survey post-series, 95% of respondents somewhat agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “These lectures help demonstrate how the humanities (history, literary study, philosophy, etc.) can help address major challenges in our society.”