William Woods hosts symposium on race and gender

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FULTON - A week-long symposium, hosted by William Woods University, will explore gender and race in American society.

A grant from a retired faculty member of the university made the symposium possible. According to Director of Advancement Shawn Hull, the faculty member dedicated her whole life looking at issues of gender and race, and she wanted to give back to the campus by starting the symposium. 

With about 850 students on campus and 3,500 total, the university expects students, faculty and members of the community to attend and engage in discussions about civil rights topics. 

On Monday night, Steve Estes, keynote speaker and a history professor at Sonoma State University in California, spoke about race and masculinity. Specifically, Estes talked about the civil rights movement and his book I Am a Man! 

"It really is about how masculinity was used as a rallying cry both against the movement by conservative white southerners who were segregationists, and in favor of the movement by a varied group of leaders from Malcolm X to government employee Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who later became a senator," Estes said describing his book. 

Estes was asked to speak at the seminar to include people in the conversation about equality and events that have happened in our country in the past few of years.

"My goal is for people to think of gender as not just equaling women-hood, because it is obviously about women and men," Estes said. "And to complicate understandings of masculinity which is something along a spectrum, and then to further complicate that to think about the ways that masculinity has interacted within American history." 

An art show will be on display beginning Tuesday, and the week will include presentations by a faculty member about domestic violence, an immigration lawyer from Columbia and activist Jackson Katz, who focuses on domestic violence. 

"Later this week we'll have a round table that allows students to engage in a dialogue where they can talk about specific things they heard and saw this past week," Hull said. 

Hull and other faculty at William Woods encourage all student, faculty and community members to participate in this weeks' symposium, and get the conversation about civil rights started. 

The symposium will end Friday, Feb. 17 with the round table discussion.