There are many reasons we have chosen to take this on, including the fact that the public is demanding its cultural institutions take a stand. But even more fundamentally: it is part of our mission to be inclusive and a key action coming out of our Racial Equity Framework.

Or as our intrepid former First Lady might sum up:

It’s up to all of us—Black, white, everyone—no matter how well‑meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting [racism] out.  Michelle Obama, Former First Lady

Uncomfortable work, indeed. But I believe the Museum is well positioned to host this timely summit and spur on the difficult conversations.

My enthusiasm comes from the esteemed group of moderators and panelists who eagerly said “yes, sign me up. I want to be part of this.” Visit The Moral Pandemic: A Racial and Gender Equity Summit for descriptions of each panel and our speakers’ bios. Tickets are free to everyone, but preregistration is required.

I guarantee your time will be well spent with thought leaders who include diversity and inclusion trailblazers from the nation’s leading public policy institutes, corporations, foundations, advocacy groups, and universities. Those you will hear from include senior staff from the Brookings Institute, Drexel University, the Urban Institute, an Obama Fellow, and the recent past president of the NAACP.

With their ferocious intellects, our speakers will delve into topics such as the inherent racism in our public health system, the negative impact of our urban environments on Black and Brown communities, and the intersection between white privilege and white supremacy. Each of these complex issues will be a focus for one evening of our three-night convening.

Our moderators for each evening are:

  • Roslyn Young-Daniels, President and Founder Black Health Matters
  • Ifeoma Ebo, Founding Director of Creative Urban Alchemy: Urban Design+Strategy and Adjunct Professor at Syracuse and Columbia GSAPP
  • John Graham, Author of Plantation Theory: The Black Professional’s Struggle Between Freedom & Security

I was also encouraged by how quickly both Mayor Baraka and Senator Booker agreed to participate. Thank you again, sirs, for your support at this watershed moment. Dismantling a historic system of inequality means not only addressing multiple challenges including increasing understanding and awareness, but also looking at the root causes behind our country’s legacy of racism and developing direct actions to confront them.

Perhaps most importantly, equity starts with building empathy. Join us in a few days as we attempt to do just that.

With optimism,

Linda C. Harrison
Director and CEO
The Newark Museum of Art