• BBJ

Register for Blackboard Jungle 13 Today

Registration is now live for the 13th annual Blackboard Jungle Symposium, held March 23-26, 2021 on Microsoft Teams.

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Blackboard Jungle 13 Symposium: Reimagining an Inclusive Community

The Blackboard Jungle Symposium (BBJ) is one of the University's signature events offering UVM faculty, staff, and all others a forum to participate in critical conversations, construct new and promising inclusive practices, and foster conversational spaces where diversity, equity, and the free exchange of ideas are welcomed, appreciated, and valued.

The symposium will feature Dr. Eddie Glaude, Jr. , award-winning author of In a Shade of Blue: Pragmatism and the Politics of Black America, and Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul; Judy Shepard, founder of the Matthew Shepard Foundation named for her son who was the victim of murder motivated by anti-gay hate; and Luis Versalles, Director of Pre K-12 District Partnerships with Pacific Educational Group.

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Deans' Friday Morning Keynote: Dr. Eddie S. Glaude Jr.

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Dr. Eddie S. Glaude Jr. is a scholar who speaks to the black and blue in America. His most well-known books, Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul, and In a Shade of Blue: Pragmatism and the Politics of Black America, take a wide look at black communities and reveal complexities, vulnerabilities, and opportunities for hope. Hope that is, in one of his favorite quotes from W.E.B Du Bois, “not hopeless, but a bit unhopeful.” Other muses include James Baldwin, Malcolm X, and Bobby “Blue” Bland. In addition to his readings of early American philosophers and contemporary political scientists, Glaude turns to African American literature in his writing and teaching for insight into African American political life, religious thought, gender and class.

He is chair of the Department of African American Studies, a program he first became involved with shaping as a doctoral candidate in Religion at Princeton. He is the current president of the American Academy of Religion. His books on religion and philosophy include African American Religion: A Very Short Introduction and Exodus! Religion, Race and Nation in Early 19th Century Black America, which was awarded the Modern Language Association’s William Sanders Scarborough Book Prize. Glaude is also the author of two edited volumes, and many influential articles about religion for academic journals. He has also written for the likes of The New York Times and The Huffington Post.

Friday Afternoon Keynote: Judy Shepard

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Judy Shepard draws from personal tragedy to promote a greater understanding of LGBTQ issues and empower audiences to embrace human dignity and diversity through outreach and advocacy in their own communities. In 1998, Judy lost her son Matthew to a murder motivated by anti-gay hate that shocked and captivated the nation. Turning tragedy into a crusade for justice, this leading voice in the LGBTQ rights movement has since established The Matthew Shepard Foundation to carry on her son’s legacy. Later, she spearheaded The Matthew Shepard Act, which expanded the federal hate-crime law to include crimes based on gender and sexual orientation. The author of the best-seller, The Meaning of Matthew, Judy offers an intimate look at how her life and the entire fight for equal rights changed when her son was killed. With a name now synonymous with activism and equal rights, Judy and her husband Dennis leave an indelible imprint with their words, compassion and raw honesty as they urge audiences to make their schools and communities safer for everyone, regardless of race, sex, religion, or gender identity and/or expression.

Featured Presenter: Luis Versalles

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A second generation Afro Cuban-American, Luis Versalles was born and raised in Bloomington, Minnesota. His bilingual and bicultural life experiences have fueled his passion for fostering racial, linguistic, and cultural equity in education for all students. After completing his public school K-12 education, Luis went on to complete a Bachelor's degree and Master’s of Education with emphasis on Second Languages and Cultures from the University of Minnesota, becoming the first college graduate in his family. This experience motivates his work in coaching school leaders to better understand the complexities presented to families of color as they navigate both the K-12 and higher education systems. Versalles specializes in aligning district strategic plans with PEG’s Systemic Racial Equity Transformation Framework to facilitate greater alignment in achieving racial equity system-wide. In addition, he leads a team of equity transformation specialists in guiding organizations through this work in the domains of Leadership, Culturally Relevant Learning and Teaching, and Family/Community Engagement and Empowerment.

Versalles began his professional career as a teacher of Spanish and English as a Second Language in his hometown of Bloomington and neighboring Richfield, MN. His teaching career spanned elementary, middle, and high school levels. As an administrator he worked as the Program Coordinator, Assistant Principal, and Principal of Richfield Dual Language School. Luis was instrumental in the community outreach, feasibility study, and coordination required to bring this school into existence as the first suburban two-way immersion school in the history of the state of Minnesota. Recognizing his leadership experiences in two-way immersion education, Luis was awarded the Joyce Bilingual Preschool Bridging Gaps, Bridging Cultures Award in 2010, and the Association of Two-Way and Dual Language’s Promoting Bilingualism Award in 2016.