Rams Read author Claudia Rankine to give Diversity Symposium keynote

Claudia Rankine portrait

Claudia Rankine, author of Citizen: An American Lyric, the selection for Colorado State University’s inaugural Rams Read, will participate as a keynote speaker during this year’s virtual Diversity Symposium.

“We are so fortunate and honored to have Claudia Rankine joining us for the Diversity Symposium,” said CSU President Joyce McConnell. “As a writer, a thinker, an activist and an educator, she approaches conversations about race, sex, racism and sexism in our country with urgency, clarity, and incisiveness.”

Rankine will speak at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 21. Melina Abdullah, professor of Pan African Studies at California State University, Los Angeles and one of the original group that convened to form Black Lives Matter, will deliver the Symposium’s first keynote at 11 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 19.

To register for either talk or any of the virtual events offered as part of the 20th annual Diversity Symposium, visit the website at diversity.colostate.edu/symposium.

Rankine will highlight both Citizen, this year’s Rams Read, and her writing more broadly; her new book, Just Us: An American Conversation, was published in September.

“The Office of the Vice President for Diversity and the Diversity Symposium Planning Committee are thrilled to partner with Rams Read to welcome Claudia Rankine as our second keynote speaker for the 20th annual Diversity Symposium,” said Mary Ontiveros, CSU’s vice president for diversity. “Featuring speakers like Rankine, who have such expertise and deep insight into our current civil movements, is central to the purpose of the Symposium. We are eager to engage with her and Dr. Abdullah.”

Citizen a moving work

Albert Bimper, Jr., one of the tri-chairs leading the Rams Read initiative, associate professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies in the College of Liberal Arts and senior associate athletic director for diversity and inclusion, recalls being particularly moved when he first read Citizen.

“Rankine’s writing comes out of a profound tradition that hearkens back to the literary intensities of James Baldwin,” he said. ”She is not just simply providing poetic lessons about the complexity of our humanity. Rather, she artfully invites you to question your own conversations and behaviors, your acceptances of imprudent preconceptions of others, and your personal comforts in how you participate in the creation of inhumane conditions and experiences to live your versions of what you dream to be America.”

Rankine’s keynote is sponsored by CSU Rams Read in partnership with the Diversity Symposium, CSU Events, Women in Science Network, Key Communities, and the Warner College of Natural Resources.

Rams Read

Rams Read is a student-centered initiative that will span the 2020-21 academic year. Incoming first-year CSU students received a link to access a complimentary ebook version online, as part of the overall funding for Rams Read provided by the Office of the President. CSU Libraries has ebook copies available to check out, and the CSU Bookstore is carrying hard copies for purchase or rental. Visit ramsread.colostate.edu or email RamsRead@colostate.edu for more information.