New Inaugural Ida B. Wells Lecture Explores Social Justice Issues

The name and values of celebrated Black civil rights activist, suffragist, and journalist Ida B. Wells have been woven into Mary Baldwin’s campus culture for years. 

Wells was born enslaved in Mississippi in 1862 and won international acclaim using journalism and activism to battle Jim Crow era injustices and sexism. MBU’s eponymic Living Learning Community honors her legacy by helping African American encouraging students excel academically, and to explore culture, identity, leadership, and civic engagement as the foundation for their university experience. 

Clockwise from upper left: Members of the Ida B. Wells Living Learning Community, founding adviser Andrea Cornett-Scott, Ida B. Wells as a young woman, Wells later in life.

That legacy is now getting another boost: The Office of Inclusive Excellence recently announced the creation of an inaugural Ida B. Wells Lecture. The annual fall event will feature prominent experts discussing topics of race and social justice within the context of current events.

Celebrated author, political analyst, and Emory University associate professor of political science Dr. Andra Gillespie will headline the first event, giving a talk titled “Race, Gender, and the 2021 Virginia Gubernatorial Race.” 

The Yale University graduate specializes in race-oriented political mobilization, and competition between minority groups. Current scholarly interests include researching political leadership in the post-civil rights generation, and looking deeply at what works — and what doesn’t — in today’s minority politics as new leadership emerges. The efforts have yielded two books in the past nine years. 

Dr. Andra Gillespie will give a talk titled “Race, Gender, and the 2021 Virginia Gubernatorial Race” at 7 p.m. on Oct. 7 in the Francis Auditorium.

The New Black Politician: Cory Booker, Newark, and Post-Racial America was published in 2012. It examines the recent evolution of African-American politics in New Jersey’s largest city — and challenges students of Black politics to revise their understanding of the connection between racial solidarity, vote choice, and policy preferences.

Next came 2017’s Race and the Obama Administration. Here, Gillespie begins by analyzing Barack Obama’s performance on substantive and symbolic issues of importance to African Americans. She then looks at how it compares to that of his predecessors.

“We’re thrilled to have Dr. Gillespie join us in launching this annual event that will celebrate the incredible legacy of Ida B. Wells, and be of great value to our students for years to come,” said MBU Chief Diversity Officer Andrea Cornett-Scott. 

The talk will be held at 7 p.m. on Oct. 7 in the Francis Auditorium. It’s co-sponsored by the political science department, Pi Sigma Alpha and Phi Beta Kappa honor societies, Spencer Center for Civic and Global Engagement, Office of Inclusive Excellence, and MBU’s Coalition for Racial and Social Justice.

To learn more about the event, CLICK HERE.