Lawrence Brown will speak about community engagement, strengthening Black neighborhoods, the role of higher education
Towson University will host Lawrence Brown, author of “The Black Butterfly: The Harmful Politics of Race and Space in America,” for a free, virtual conversation on Tuesday, May 4. Brown is a pre-eminent voice on, and scholar of, issues of race in the United States, and especially on those issues in Baltimore.
The conversation, hosted by BTU and the Office of Inclusion & Institutional Equity, will be moderated by Matthew Durington, a professor of anthropology and director of community engagement and partnerships.
“Folks at Towson University want to have, and are willing to have, the challenging conversations,” Durington says. “It’s meaningful to have community engagement and equity built into the priorities for a university.”
The event will explore racial equity in Baltimore and what role everyone has to play in making a difference and strengthening Black neighborhoods. Durington will have a critical discussion with Brown and field questions from the virtual audience.
In addition to outlining the long history of segregation in the United States, Brown’s book looks toward the future and offers a plan for activists, nonprofits and public officials to achieve racial equity. Brown is also scheduled to spend time in critical dialogue with university stakeholders to help further TU's efforts, internally and externally, to center racial equity.
The idea, Durington says, is to “meet with him for a deep conversation about how to drive and implement these things on campus and beyond.
“I’m immensely proud of my colleagues, students and staff, who do really amazing community engagement work. But it’s always important for us to calibrate what we want to do to make sure we’re doing it in ways that are beneficial to our partners,” he continues.
Towson University has commitments to diversity and inclusion and community engagement as an anchor institution, from the top down. Developing and growing BTU has been one of TU President Kim Schatzel's priorities.
One Kim Schatzel’s first acts was creating the Office of Inclusion & Institutional Equity, with Leah Cox as the office’s inaugural vice president. In November 2020, TU also published its first diversity strategic plan. Cox says critical conversations, like the one Brown will be a part of, are important for Towson University as an institution.
"Towson’s history is a part of who we are, and as we move forward to become a more inclusive institution, it’s important to have those conversations. We want to create the TU that’s more inclusive and welcoming," Cox says.
Brown is an equity scientist and former faculty member at Morgan State University in the School of Community Health and Policy. He is the founder and director of the Black Butterfly Academy, a virtual racial equity education and consulting firm. His book was published in January this year by the Johns Hopkins University Press.