Durham College (DC) joined the Ivy League last month as Ashley Marshall, professor with the School of Interdisciplinary Studies, and Allison Hector-Alexander, director, Office of Student Diversity, Inclusion and Transitions, presented at the Black Portraitures colloquium on African American culture hosted by Harvard University’s Hutchins Center for African and African American Research from March 22 to 24.
Based on Marshall’s project in Critical Race Theory, namely anti-black racism, Harvard invited her to present alongside leaders in the field of critical race studies. She then asked her mentor, Hector-Alexander, to join her as a panelist at the conference. The two scholars have collaborated on several projects in the past.
Representing DC, Marshall and Hector-Alexander shared their experiences as women of Jamaican and Dominican descent, presenting their ideas about racial representation as an integral part of the learning environment. The women focused on the need for post-secondary institutions to emphasize how formative culture is for students and suggested tactics for how students and educators could both benefit from increased engagement. Marshall explored the role teachers played in grooming her into the communications professional she is today, and Hector-Alexander emphasized how much work still needs to be done to make campuses more inclusive spaces.
Both women consider the college experience to be about more than academics alone. They believe students need to be heard and have a seat at the table. The conference at Harvard University allowed Marshall and Hector-Alexander to take away innovative ideas to bring back to DC to further exemplify how the school cares about its faculty and students by supporting anti-racism, anti-oppression and anti-brutality both inside and outside the classroom.
For further information about the conference, visit the Black Portraitures website.