February 5, 2018

Elms College to host national scholars for inaugural Black Issues Summit

Staff report

Algerian Hart (IObserve photo/courtesy of Algerian Hart)


CHICOPEE – In celebration of Black History Month, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at College of Our Lady of the Elms will host its inaugural Black Issues Summit from 1 to 4:15 p.m. Friday, Feb. 16, in the Alumnae Library Theater.

Joseph Cooper (IObserve photo/courtesy of Joseph Cooper)

Black Issues Summit will bring national scholars specializing in a range of subjects to Elms for important dialogue with the college’s students, faculty, and staff, as well as the general public, about issues affecting the Black community. The event will feature a dynamic keynote address in addition to discussions, panels, and a conference debriefing session.

“This summit is gathering to openly examine and candidly discuss the numerous and complex issues surrounding the Black community,” said Alaina DiGiorgio, director of diversity and inclusion at Elms. “It seeks to bring our community – made up of people from various disciplines and backgrounds – together to learn from each other and address how we can increase our own knowledge of issues pertaining to the Black community.”

Diversity is an integral component of the Elms College experience. Guided by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the college hosts multicultural activities and events throughout the year. Each February, the college celebrates contributions that members of the African-American community make to society.

The distinguished panel at this afternoon event will help foster understanding through an open examination and candid discussion of many complex issues affecting the Black community.

“As this is the summit’s first year,” she added, “we contacted various speakers from around the country who specialize in African-American or Africana studies to invite them to speak and interact with the Elms community to create and support dialogue surrounding these various issues.”

Bettye Gavin (IObserve photo/courtesy of Bettye Gavin)

The event will feature the following speakers:

Christopher Doucot, founder of the Hartford Catholic Worker, adjunct faculty at University of Hartford and Central Connecticut State University, and author of the new book, No Innocent Bystanders: Becoming an Ally in the Struggle for Justice, whose talk is titled “No Innocent Bystanders.”

Joseph Cooper, assistant professor in the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut, who will discuss Collective Uplift, a movement he founded at the university to provide resources and workshops encouraging holistic development for minority student-athletes.

Bettye Gavin, a Joliet, Ill., councilwoman, executive director of the Forest Park Community Center, founder of Quality of Life Task Force, and executive director of the National Hook-Up of Black Women Inc., who will speak about empowering Black women.

Algerian Hart, associate program coordinator of sport management at Western Illinois University, who will present a talk on inclusivity on higher-ed campuses.

Following the summit, attendees are invited to participate in a debriefing session to provide feedback and thoughts on the issues discussed.

Christopher Doucot (IObserve photo/Christopher Doucot)

It is free and open to the public, but advance registration is required. Visit for more information and to register.