Yohuru Williams, history professor and founding director of the Racial Justice Initiative at the University of St. Thomas, recently spoke with The Associated Press about the top Black Republican candidate in the presidential primary. From the story: “He’s a Black man who rejects the idea of systemic racism, which is very popular in Republican circles,”… The post In the News: Yohuru Williams on How Presidential Candidate Tim Scott Discusses Systemic Racism appeared first on Newsroom | University of St. Thomas.
Racial Justice Initiative
In keeping with our Catholic mission to uphold the dignity of every human person and to advance the common good, St. Thomas launched the Racial Justice Initiative in June 2020 to help drive meaningful reform and change.
The initiative is led by Founding Director Dr. Yohuru Williams, distinguished university chair and professor of history, and focuses on supporting racial justice education, facilitating research, exploring community partnerships, and encouraging dialogue and critical conversations.
Creating the Racial Justice Initiative
The civil unrest in Spring 2020 in the United States has laid bare the stark reality of systemic racism. Across the country, people are signaling a new urgency to confronting the racial inequality that exists in our communities.
The Racial Justice Initiative will work collaboratively with individuals and organizations already engaged in the essential work of helping to reimagine a future for the Twin Cities free from racial disparities. The work of the initiative will be shared widely and aspires to be a model for how other communities begin these efforts.
Join the Racial Justice Initiative
An Evening with Dr. Williams
Sixty years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous “I have a dream…” speech at the historic March on Washington. We invite you to a special evening with Dr. Yohuru Williams to learn what these words mean for all of us today, and showcase what the Racial Justice Initiative is doing to make racial justice more than a dream. All guests and students are welcome to attend.
Dr. Williams' presentation will include a short video demonstrating the impact of RJI over the past year, as well as some brief remarks from his new book, "More Than A Dream: The Radical March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom," which was included on the 2023 Young People's Literature Longlist for the National Book Awards.
About the Racial Justice Initiative
Hear Dr. Williams share his vision for the St. Thomas Racial Justice Initiative and the process of historical recovery.
Racial Justice Masterclass
For corporations that want to continue the historical recovery journey, the Racial Justice Masterclass is a unique program to help organizations advance their work in diversity, equity and inclusion and move toward racial justice. The masterclass will include three educational and inspiring events that will propel you to think differently and make a greater impact in our community.
Designed to inspire change through the lens of historical recovery, the Racial Justice Initiative works collaboratively with individuals and organizations to create knowledge of the racial history of the United States. The initiative champions partnership as fundamental to sustaining the pursuit of lasting change. It seeks to empower young voices and be a leader of Black history in the Twin Cities and beyond.
Our 10-year vision is centered on four interrelated goals:
- To create new pathways for student engagement (through scholarships, internships, and sponsored programming) on issues of racial justice and equity.
- To develop, promote and support scholarships related to racial injustice that impacts and supports the work of community organizations involved in the same work.
- To establish St. Thomas as one of the premiere spaces for conversations around racial justice both locally and nationally.
- To inspire systemic change consistent with the mission of the university and its catholic identity through scholarship and corporate and community engagement that focuses on eradicating racial injustice.
Historical Recovery as a Pathway to Justice
For racial justice to truly take hold, we must first understand the historical roots of the injustices that have contributed to the present moment. Historical recovery works to illuminate the underpinnings of racism and offer insight into new interventions aimed at dismantling harmful systems. The Racial Justice Initiative is centered on the process of historical recovery as a foundational step to making change and eradicating barriers.
A variety of funding opportunities are available for individuals and organizations who want to advance the mission of the Racial Justice Initiative. Funding can help support an endowed chair for racial justice at St. Thomas, student research and community engagement opportunities, faculty research, as well as the "Overpoliced and Under-Protected" research and documentary project.
"With the moment in front of us now, there is a tremendous opportunity to see the Twin Cities as a laboratory for change. Here in Minnesota, if we can think creatively, engage broadly, and partner with humility concerning the work we must all do together, we can make a big impact.”
The Work of the Racial Justice Initiative
Through the lens of historical recovery, Dr. Williams provides consulting, workshops, executive leadership education and coaching, and long-term partnerships to corporations locally and around the country.
We are proud to partner with community organizations to make meaningful change. Our work includes educational presentations, keynote appearances, and offerings to local community groups related to the mission of RJI. We remain committed to establishing and maintaining relationships with those doing work in the community.
"Overpoliced and Underprotected" research project and "Policing MSP" documentary
This expansive research and documentary project creates student experiential opportunities, supports scholarship of local and national history, generates new findings to educate the community, and generates collaboration with external partners to make an impact.
Through history lessons, engaging conversations, panel discussions, and partnerships with the arts, our MasterClass series aims to educate corporate and non-profit groups as well as individuals on the history of systemic racism in the United States and discuss ways to take action to help dismantle systemic racism.
Dr. Williams regularly appears and presents across all media platforms as an expert on history and racial justice.
"Thank you, Dr. Yohuru Williams, for your amazing gift of teaching historical and contemporary black history to our Delta Dental of MN team members! Your presentations are bar none and we are excited for the continued partnership and learning journey!"
– Kathie Eiland-Madison, Chief Engagement and Inclusion Officer, Delta Dental
"Watch any high-end historical documentary and you’ll see Dr. Williams of the University of St. Thomas as he is THE go-to voice on American history. I was blessed to first connect with Dr. Williams in 2019 and remain in awe of him and his work.
"Yohuru is a phenomenal speaker with the ability to simultaneously educate and uplift. Yohuru leads with love and compassion. Yohuru, THANK YOU, for your strength, patience, and for leading the way in our community. I deeply admire your critical thinking process and am thankful for your friendship."
– Cory Hepola, Vice President of Communications, Growth, and Strategy at The Brookshire Co., TV anchor, host, and documentarian
MA in Diversity Leadership
St. Thomas now offers a Master of Arts in Diversity Leadership. This interdisciplinary program grounds leadership training in culture and inclusion in a way that no other program does. For leaders seeking to effectively implement DEI strategies in their organizations and communities, the MA in Diversity Leadership provides a flexible two-year degree that will build on your enthusiasm and vision for diversity and racial justice.
News from the Racial Justice Initiative
August 29, 2023
During the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington, Yohuru Williams, founding director of the Racial Justice Initiative at the University of St. Thomas, spoke about the topic to several news outlets around the country. He is also the author of a new book on the topic, More Than A Dream: The Radical March on… The post In the News: Yohuru Williams on the 60th Anniversary of the March on Washington appeared first on Newsroom | University of St. Thomas.
August 23, 2023
The 60th anniversary of the March on Washington is Monday, Aug. 28. While many people hear about that day in the context of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech, Dr. Yohuru Williams, the founding director of the Racial Justice Initiative at the University of St. Thomas, says there’s so much more… The post Remembering the March on Washington 60 Years Later appeared first on Newsroom | University of St. Thomas.
August 8, 2023
Yohuru Williams, PhD, history professor and founding director of the Racial Justice Initiative at the University of St. Thomas, recently spoke with MPR about the sentencing of the fourth officer involved in the 2020 murder of George Floyd. From the story: “It feels a little anti-climatic and I think that might be true for most… The post In the News: Yohuru Williams on the Sentencing of Former Minneapolis Police Officer Tou Thao appeared first on Newsroom | University of St. Thomas.
June 23, 2023
When the Racial Justice Initiative (RJI) was founded at the University of St. Thomas in summer 2020, a new lane for powerful and engaging work toward racial justice emerged in the Twin Cities. With a clear and unique vision, its founder, Dr. Yohuru Williams, champions historical recovery as the foundation for revealing the “six degrees… The post Racial Justice Initiative: Leading Critical Conversations appeared first on Newsroom | University of St. Thomas.