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GSEP Celebrates Black History Month

Since 1976, President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month. To honor the contributions and achievements of African Americans and their important role in our history, Black History Month originated from historian Carter G. Woodson from Negro History Week in 1926 with a specific theme highlighted each year. This year’s theme is Black Health and Wellness as we honor our medical providers and scholars.

Pepperdine Graduate School of Education and Psychology launches Black History Month with a video from Program Chair of the MA in Social Entrepreneurship and Change program Dr. Stephen Kirnon, followed by a Black History Month Speaker Series event occurring throughout the month.  
Dr. Kirnon shares what Black History Month means to him and shares meaningful ways to celebrate it. “How we honor it is by doing something immersive…that's the way you honor things that are important to you… ultimately the goal is for us all to be inclusive and all to belong.”

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Black History Month Speaker Series EventBlack History Month Speaker Flyer

The Center for Global Partnerships and Learning in association with the Graduate School of Education and Psychology are excited to present the Black History Month Speaker Series in keeping with our mission to elevate voices in the community. Please join us throughout the month of February as we kick off our inaugural virtual Zoom event with our guest and keynote speaker, Dr. Tamara Lewis from Southern Methodist University this Friday, February 4 from 5:00-6:30 pm PST as she speaks on, "'WHAT SAY WE NOW?' Critical Race Theory, Black History and the American Legacy of Church and State." 

Additionally, each week throughout the month of February, we will have a series of speakers and topics to celebrate Black History Month. Our goal for this celebration and speaker series is to educate scholars and our partners on the importance of Black history to the overarching history of the United States and the broader world. You will see emails coming through with the dates and times of all speakers forthcoming during the month. 

Dr. Tamara E. Lewis is Professor of the Practice of Historical Theology and Director of the Black/ Africana Studies Program at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University. She received her Ph.D. in Religion and History from Vanderbilt University. She is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church and serves on the Board of the African American Heritage Center of the United Methodist Church. She is an editorial board member of the Methodist Review. She is the author of several journal articles and essays in edited volumes. A member of the steering committee of the Women and Religion Unit of the American Academy of Religion, member of the Sixteenth Century and Society Conference and the American Society of Church History, Dr. Lewis is presently completing two books on Race and Theology in Early Modern England and in Early American Methodism.

Other Confirmed Speakers:

Dr. Calvin Bonds - The Greatest Gift

February 7, 2022

3:00 pm PST

Dr. Calvin Bonds will be speaking to us about his journey toward leadership. In his talk, Dr. Bonds shares his inspiring story of the challenges which changed his outlook in life and led him to realize that he is his own greatest gift while walking towards equality. Additionally, he proclaims that YOU are the greatest gift to yourself while having pride as a Black or Brown person and as an ally. Dr. Bonds’s talk will leave everyone feeling encouraged.

Dr. Calvin Bonds is an alumnus of Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology. He holds the degree of Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership. In addition, he works as a servant leader in the areas of consulting and coaching, providing resources to people in third world countries as a means of social justice. He is also a Hollywood publicist for Oscar-nominated films.

Dr. Dontá Morrison - Black History: Things I’ve Learned Along the Way

February 8, 2022

5:00 pm PST

Our speaker, Dr. Dontá Morrison will cover the importance of Black History, as not only a month, but also an ongoing educational tool for Americans of all ages, races, and genders by addressing how the lack of comprehensive education on Black History, at a primary and secondary level, adversely affects the way Black Americans perceive themselves and how White Americans interact with them. In addition, Dr. Morrison will share how his own thought process changed after he was introduced to elevated truths about Black America that placed his ancestors in alignment with oppressors who received undeserved credit for many of the successes that make America what it is today. Unfortunately, until holistic teaching on Black History occurs, Black Americans will continue to navigate through a political system that still does not fully support or affirm them as American citizens.

Dr. Dontá Morrison is a Los Angeles-based community change agent focused on bridging gaps that will improve the lives of marginalized individuals, specifically Black gay and bisexual men. His research focuses on the impact of faith-based sexual exclusion upon the lives of Black Christian men who have sex with men who are actively involved within the traditional Black church. Dr. Morrison is a veteran of the United States Air Force, a member of Kappa Lambda Chi Military Fraternity, Inc., and host of the highly engaging The Dontá Show on YouTube.

Dr. Jai Oni Sly - Black Educators Matter

February 9, 2022

3:00 pm PST

In K-12, the impact educators have on their students is significant. In a world where students and particularly students of color are experiencing issues with their mental health and well-being, the increased use of technology due to COVID-19, has contributed to a significant shift in student attitudes and behaviors. Dr. Jai Oni Sly will speak on why having a teacher who is Black or a person of color can make a world of difference for a more positive impact on students and their learning.

Dr. Jai Oni Sly is an educator, DE&I consultant, and curriculum editor who values excellence, communication, and culture. Recently graduating with her Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership, Administration and Policy from Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology, her dissertation focused on best practices for non-profit organizations that use human-animal interaction as an intervention for at-risk you. Dr. Jai Oni Sly has been working in non-profit organizations whose mission targets working with youth, animals, and championing human rights. She is currently working on obtaining her second doctorate in Global Leadership and Change at Pepperdine University.

Asia Bribiesca-Hedin - Leadership Confidence: How To Survive Being The First And Only

February 15, 2022

5:00 pm PST

What does it take to lead yourself and others with confidence when you’re told you don’t belong and that your kind are just not good enough? For over 400 years Blacks in America have wrestled with this question as have others who have experienced being the “first” or the “only” in a room that had formerly excluded their “kind”. Whether a different race, ability, gender identity, education level, body type, language fluency, wealth, religion, or political party – it takes something more to create real self-confidence, the kind that stands up to the discomfort of feeling unwelcome and the pressure to play small. During this session, Asia Bribiesca-Hedin will explore what it took then and now to rise beyond the limitations others would place on us as well as the limitations we place on ourselves.

Asia Bribiesca-Hedin is a proud alumna of the Pepperdine University Graziadio Business School and CEO of Bridgewell Professional Services, a leadership development and strategy execution firm in Southern California. Asia began her career in management consulting and strategy execution with Ernst & Young after earning her MBA at USC. Today she brings her strategic lens to leadership development and executive coaching, where she helps accomplished professionals become influential, sought-after leaders without overworking, people-pleasing, or selling their souls.

Dr. LaSchanda Johnson - Black Women Leaders Matter: Keys to Success for Black Women Leaders in Higher Education

February 16, 2022

5:00 pm PST

Dr. LaSchanda Johnson will be speaking on the topic of African American Women Leaders in Higher Education: Understanding the common barriers, obstacles, and strategies for reaching and maintaining leadership roles as "Black and Woman." Using her dissertation’s research study, a phenomenological approach, and semi-structured interview questions, the research revealed parallels in previously established issues, as well as guidance for the next generation of Black women leaders. Learning from previous and present African American women leaders in higher education will inspire Black women to not only aim for leadership positions in higher education but also to accomplish and thrive in leadership roles.

Dr. LaSchanda Johnson works as an internal auditor and adjunct professor at the nation's largest college district. She previously worked at It Takes a Village Community Foundation in Los Angeles, California, as the Community Outreach Director. Dr. Johnson earned a Bachelor of Science in Political Science from Southern University and A&M College, a Master of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership, Administration, and Policy from Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology. Her educational leadership experience includes endeavors to standardize operating policies and processes for colleges and students. Dr. Johnson leverages her leadership knowledge to provide process improvement guidance, education, and suggestions to the district's executive team and the college's senior leadership team. Additionally, Dr. Johnson devotes her time to serving the community through a variety of community outreach activities.

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