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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.

Speakers included:

  • 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
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Isabel Wilkerson, bestselling author and award-winning journalist.

Isabel Wilkerson, bestselling author and award-winning journalist.

Leilani Hung
The Presidential Lecture Series was a very transforming initiative that took place here on campus. Having influential speakers come to Creighton gave students of color a sense of purpose and hope.
— Leilani Hung
Frankie Pastor-Rivera
Representation—that's what the event meant to me. Having someone like [Ms.] Wilkerson speak to us students represents the promise of the U.S., in that we shouldn't be afraid to be unapologetically ourselves.
— Frankie Pastor-Rivera
David Amorim Caldas
As an international student, I face the impacts of the American caste routinely. Speaking with Isabel Wilkerson was truly eye-opening to the value of diversity. Additionally, she made me realize the real importance of advocacy and the revolutionary nature of standing in one’s own power.
— David Amorim Caldas

Spotlight: Edwidge Danticat

By Surbhi Malik, PhD, Associate Professor of English

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.

Members of the Black Health Professions Student Association
Members of the Black Health Professions Student Association welcomed guests as ambassadors at a reception for Dr. Tweedy at Creighton University Health Sciences – Phoenix Campu. Students are Tosin Babarinde, Geraldine Desir, Shana Ofori, Gianna Jordan, Alyxandra Ingram, and Bryant Noss. This was the Institute’s first event at the Phoenix campus.

Audience Reactions

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.”