Responding to Reality

Join us for Responding to Reality conversations that discuss important and timely issues, their impact on urban schools and communities, and possible solutions.

Stay tuned for information about upcoming Responding to Reality events.

Past Conversations

February 5, 2022: Why We Walked Out: Youth Organizers Fighting For Our Lives

Moderators: T. Elon Dancy II (Executive Director of CUE and Helen S. Faison Endowed Chair in Urban Education) and Sabina Vaught (Professor and Chair of the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Leading)
Panelists: Dora Chan and Rommy Sasson (Brooklyn Technical High School, Brooklyn, N.Y.), Catlyn Savado (Percy L. Julian High School, Chicago, Ill.), and William Hu (Boston Latin High School, Boston, Mass.)

Event Description:

“A social movement that only moves people is merely a revolt. A movement that changes both people and institutions is a revolution.”
—MLK, Jr., “Why we can’t wait”

In protest of compulsory in-person schooling as Omicron tears through communities, young people walked out of high school by the hundreds. Across Turtle Island, from NYC to Oakland, young people are striking, issuing demands, staging walkouts, and insisting on a world otherwise. We stand in awe, witness, gratitude, and solidarity with these revolutionary young people. In this special Responding to Reality, T. Elon Dancy II (CUE Executive Director) and Sabina Vaught (Department Chair, Teaching, Learning, and Leading) joined student organizers of three of these cross-country movements to learn from their struggle for safety and justice in our current COVID-19 moment.

Watch the Recording

November 6, 2020: Kali Akuno

In this virtual talk, Kali Akuno, an organizer with the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, educator, and writer discussed the U.S. presidential election, political education, activism, and his book "Jackson Rising: The Struggle for Economic Democracy and Black Self-Determination in Jackson, Mississippi."  This was done through a conversation with Sabina Vaught, University of Pittsburgh School of Education Professor and Chair of the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Leading and Chris Wright, a doctoral student at the School of Education.

October 17, 2019: What is White Supremacy? Perspectives on Education, Nation-State, and the Public Good

The purpose of this town hall was to question and discuss the entrenchment of white supremacy in the U.S. and its sinister work to destabilize efforts to build a civil democracy. A portion of the town hall focused on methods of resistance and creativity despite the obstacles produced by white supremacy and its proxies: patriarchy/sexism, homophobia, transphobia, colorism, ableism and other systems of oppression. We endeavor to learn from the insurgent histories of minoritized communities who have survived, resisted, and fought in many ways. In the words of Solomon and Rankin, "whether we're singing, sitting, marching, researching, prosecuting, creating, laughing, studying, organizing, dreaming, building wealth or drawing on spirit, we battle life-threatening forces as a matter of course. Why should this moment be any different?"

February 21, 2019: Film Screening of "East of Liberty"

Directed by Chris Ivey, East of Liberty explores issues of race and class and addresses resident’s fears about gentrification. The goal has been to create a historical record that captures the essence of community change and exposes taboos in frank conversation—from displacement to neighborhood violence to discussions of race and class—which most redevelopment efforts ignore. This series has been used in classrooms of higher education to engage students in a timely debate and discussion about urban redevelopment, gentrification and related social and economic issues. It serves as an ideal teaching tool for courses including those in urban studies, public policy, race and ethnicity, sociology and others. Panelists included Alvin Pearman, PhD (CUE), Harley Etienne, PhD (University of Michigan), and Medina Jackson, MSW (Director of Engagement of P.R.I.D.E.).

October 11, 2018: The Browning of Education: Latinx Myths and Realities in Urban Education

Co-sponsored by the School of Education Dean's Office and Center for Urban Education (CUE), this Responding to Reality examined Latinx issues and experiences across the education pipeline as we celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM). HHM is annually celebrated Sept. 15-Oct.15 to acknowledge the history, culture, and contributions of Americans whose ancestry can be traced to Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Spain. In the United States, there are approximately 58.5 million people who have ancestries connected to these countries, yet they reside in the United States. 

Moderator Dr. Gina Garcia led discussions with our four distinguished panelists Dr. Susana Muñoz, Dr. Rosa Clemente, Dr. Cati de los Ríos, and Dr. Mirelsie Velázquez.