Photo credit: Loyola University Maryland

Loyola University Maryland’s Office of Equity and Inclusion and Loyola College of Arts and Sciences launched today the Karson Institute for Race, Peace & Social Justice to address racial inequities in Baltimore and around the country, the university announced. Karsonya “Kaye” Whitehead, Ph.D., associate professor of communication, African, and African American Studies, is the founding director of the institute.

The institute seeks to provide a space for researchers, students, social justice workers, and activists to come together to research, discuss, debate, and explore answers to America’s most urgent questions on inequality, injustice, and racial inequity.

Dr. Kaye Whitehead

“Founding the Karson Institute has been my dream and my goal ever since I arrived at Loyola. The university’s mission of cura personalis—care for the whole person—calls on all of us to support and speak out against inequities and demand social justice for all,” said Whitehead in a statement.

“This time of national and international unrest offered the perfect opportunity to launch The Karson Institute for Race, Peace & Social Justice to engage in conversations that inspire informative and transformational, anti-racist discussion and action. The goal is to engage, to challenge, and to make spaces to have these conversations.”

Dr. Whitehead is an Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker, author, radio host, and speaker. In 2019, Essence magazine named her to its ‘Woke 100’ list.

A steering committee of Loyola faculty members and community leaders will also provide support and resources through the institute. They include Stephen Fowl, Ph.D., dean of Loyola College of Arts and Sciences; Cheryl Moore-Thomas, Ph.D., chief equity and inclusion officer; Raven Williams, director of ALANA Services; John Kiess, Ph.D., associate professor of theology; Rev. Timothy Brown, S.J., associate professor of law and social responsibility and special assistant to the president for mission integration; and, Dr. Martha Wharton.

“The Karson Institute for Race, Peace & Social Justice is a central part of Loyola’s overall efforts to address racial inequity both on campus and in the larger Baltimore community,” said Fowl.

Using Baltimore as a lens, the institute will research issues, collect and house resources, and train students and faculty on how to actively address racial trauma and violence; anti-racism and anti-blackness; and systemic oppression.

“Under the leadership of Dr. Karsonya Wise Whitehead, the Karson Institute for Race, Peace & Social Justice will serve as an invaluable resource and incubator for cutting-edge research aimed to advance racial equity and justice,” said Moore-Thomas. “The Institute will uniquely provide real-time analyses and access to conversations with thought leaders, activists, politicians, and educators. While the Institute is very important to Loyola and our continuous efforts to address and condemn inequities through the office of equity and inclusion, it is also significant to the nation and our united struggle for equity and healing justice.”

Monthly conversations led by Whitehead, called COMloquiums, will discuss topic areas with experts from across the country. The first one, which will focus on Medical Bondage, Election 2020, and the post-election, will be recorded and posted on the Karson Institute website.

The website will also feature a blog that will highlight resources that address racial healing, whiteness, social movements, and Baltimore—with the goal to help shift the dominant narrative. Students enrolled in Whitehead’s course Social Media for Social Justice will record one-minute talkbacks to include in the monthly conversations and will be highlighted on the institute’s website.

The blog posts and the next monthly conversation can be found on the institute’s website on Monday.