By Collin Atwood
On April 14, Springfield College will introduce its Courageous Conversations program. The idea of this program is to have brave people who have overcome obstacles share their stories with the Springfield College community.
“We want to have people that have done remarkable, courageous things come to our community and share with us,” said Dr. Calvin Hill, Vice President for Inclusion and Community Engagement.
It all started over the summer when students expressed their feelings about wanting to hear inspiring stories from guest speakers. This prompted the college and the Division of Inclusion and Community Engagement to start this new lecture series.
The first speaker in this series will be award-winning journalist, Ernest Owens. As a Black and gay man in the media industry, Owens has overcome many obstacles to be the success that he is today.
“He will be able to speak to us about being Black in a very white dominated field, as well as being a Black, gay male in the industry,” Hill said.
Being the CEO at Ernest Media Empire, LLC and the first openly gay President of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists are just a few of Owens accolades. He was also the Editor at Large for The Philadelphia Magazine and contributed to large media outlets such as NBC News, USA Today, CNN and MTV.
Owens has used his platform to talk about LGBTQ+ and social justice issues. His work has earned many awards, such as being on the 2020 Forbes 30 under 30 list, being the 2017 Emerging Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists, winning the 2018 Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists and many more.
The title of this event is “From Awareness to Action: How to Make Social Impact After Getting Woke.” Owens will talk to the campus community about how to take action when it comes to inclusion and diversity.
Having Owens speak at this lecture will shed some light on the community when it comes to the unfortunate events over the last few years that have led to a larger and more productive fight for social justice.
“I think we’ve been spending a lot of time talking about issues of intersectionality, looking at race, class, orientation, etc. over the last two or three years,” Hill said.
Dr. Hill believes that Owens is the best speaker to have for the first Courageous Conversations series. His youth gives him the ability to connect with the student body and his position in journalism keeps him informed on social justice issues around the country.
“This entire year has really allowed us to have many courageous conversations and this, by no means is the end,” Hill said.
The first Courageous Conversations event will be on April 14 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Photo: Ernest Owens