JHU Forums on Race in America

Our ongoing discussion on race and racism and their effect on American Culture

Johns Hopkins students, faculty, and staff, and the wider Baltimore community are engaged in important discussions about racial inequality and deep divisions that exist in our society. In classrooms, workplaces, and public spaces, they are expressing pain and frustration about the products of institutionalized racism: police brutality, mass incarceration, separate and unequal schools, and an ever-growing wealth gap between black and white Americans.

In spring 2015, turmoil in U.S. cities including Baltimore turned a spotlight on issues of race and racism. Those events lent urgency to the JHU Forums on Race in America, which were just being launched to support an open, thoughtful, and informed community conversation. More than a year later, we have welcomed five exciting guest speakers and engaged thousands of audience members in person and online.

In keeping with our commitment to diversity, community service, inclusion, and academic freedom, we are continuing the forums this academic year with a dynamic lineup of guests. We hope you will join us.

Click here for details on our last events in the JHU Forums on Race in America series.

Next Event

Laila Alawa, Payton Head, Mo Speller, and Monica Yorkman

"A Discussion of Intersecting Dimensions of Identity"
Moderated by Norma Day-Vines, professor, JHU School of Education
March 7, 2017
7 p.m.
Shriver Hall (Homewood Campus)
This event is open to the public but registration is required: 


Laila Alawa is the founder and CEO of The Tempest, the fastest-growing media company changing the narrative of diverse millennial women in the world. The Tempest has helped connect millions of people with more than 700 female thought leaders on every issue, disrupting the global media status quo. Prior to founding the company, Laila worked at the White House and for Congress and she is often quoted in nationwide media outlets. 

Payton Head is a recent graduate of the University of Missouri where he represented 28,000 students as president of the student government. In the aftermath of Ferguson, he spearheaded conversations about improving race relations and used social media to spark student activism, including through the #ConcernedStudents1950 movement. With the National Campus Leadership Council and the Department of Education, he co-authored a guide for student leaders for addressing inclusion, and as a member of the LGBTQ community, he facilitates dialogue on the intersection of race and sexual identities. 

Mo Speller is a Johns Hopkins University Ph.D. student whose work explores the development of post-war housing codes, their relationship to historical color lines in cities, and how code enforcement can be used to demarcate boundaries of neighborhood and police race, class, and gender. Mo served as the program assistant for the Program in Racism, Immigration, and Citizenship at JHU. In 2014 he was awarded a Diversity Leadership Council (DLC) grant to carry out the Safe and Accessible Restrooms Assessment at the university.

Monica Yorkman co-founded the Baltimore Transgender Alliance in 2013 to unify and empower the city’s trans communities, empower trans and gender non-conforming individuals, and increase those groups’ political effectiveness. Inspired by her parents’ activism, she has been a part of grassroots political organizations since high school and founded Sistas of the “t,” an outreach, education, and advocacy organization that works with transgender women of color who engage in commercial sex work.

The public can view a live stream of the talk at https://hub.jhu.edu/hopkins-race-forum-live/.


  • Center for Africana Studies
  • Diversity Leadership Council
  • Black Student Union
  • Black Faculty and Staff Association
  • Latino Alliance
  • Office of Institutional Equity
  • Office of Multicultural Affairs
  • Student Affairs
  • The Office of the President
  • The Office of the Provost