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A Pandemic of Inequity: Addressing Educational Disparity in the COVID-19 Era


  • Moderator: Dr. Robert S. Smith, Harry G. John Professor of History and Director of the Center for Urban Research, Teaching & Outreach, Marquette University
  • Bevin Christie, Educator
  • Walter Lanier, Director, Multicultural Affairs, Community Engagement and Men of Color, Milwaukee Area Technical College
  • Paul E. Moga, Coordinator, Dept. of Black and Latino Male Achievement, Milwaukee Public Schools

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed profound disparities in the educational landscape throughout our country. In addition to hearing about a variety of local outreach programs and organizations addressing this challenge, you will learn how Marquette is collaborating with the Milwaukee Public Schools’ Department of Black & Latino Male Achievement to organize the Leadership and Brotherhood Summit for Young Men of Color. This annual conference engages in a community-wide effort to support leadership development and enhance the academic success of young men of color in Milwaukee and Southeastern Wisconsin. Join us for a conversation with faculty, alumni, and community experts to explore the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on minority communities and examine how we can ensure a more equitable future for all our neighbors.

More about this session

Dr. Robert S. Smith is the Harry G. John Professor of History and the Director of the Center for Urban Research, Teaching & Outreach at Marquette University. His research and teaching interests include African American history, civil rights history, and exploring the intersections of race and law. Dr. Smith is the author of Race, Labor & Civil Rights; Griggs v. Duke Power and the Struggle for Equal Employment Opportunity. Prior to joining Marquette University, Dr. Smith served as the associate vice chancellor for global inclusion & engagement and director of the Cultures & Communities Program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Bevin Christie is an educator who believes in educating the whole child and closing the achievement gap. She has been involved with education and workforce development for over 20 years. She serves on the board for the Zeidler Group for Public Discussion, the program committee for the Employee Milwaukee’s Board of Directors, the planning committees for both Marquette’s Leadership and Brotherhood Summit for Young Men of Color and UW-Milwaukee’s Black Male Youth Summit. Bevin holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication, Management and Technology and a Master of Arts in Education with a focus in career readiness K-12 from Alverno College. She is passionate about reimagining education in the city of Milwaukee to better serve all students.

Walter J. Lanier is the Director of Student Resources and Counseling Services Engagement at Milwaukee Area Technical College. In 2015, Lanier led the design and launch of the college's Men of Color Initiative, which is designed to increase course completion, retention, and graduation rates of the college's men of color. Men of color are over 22% of MATC's population; Black men are 56% of that total.

In addition, Lanier is in his ninth year as the senior pastor of the Progressive Baptist Church of Milwaukee. Progressive is particularly recognized for its work in the areas of mental health, anti-violence and HIV/AIDS prevention.  In 2012, he formed "MIRACLE" (Mental Illness - Raising Awareness with Church and Community Leaders Everywhere), a collaboration of faith-based leaders, community leaders and people with lived experience.

A 1995 graduate of the University of Michigan law school, Lanier maintained his own business law practice for over a decade prior to joining MATC. Lanier also lectured in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Department of Africology in the areas of race and constitutional law. Lanier currently serves on the Milwaukee County Mental Health Board, Milwaukee Community Justice Council, Milwaukee Inner City Congregations Allied for Hope and Milwaukee Health Services, Inc.

Paul Moga is the coordinator for Milwaukee Public Schools’ Department of Black and Latino Male Achievement. A Milwaukee native and MPS alumnus, Paul collaborates with district leaders to implement professional learning, and leads research-based initiatives such as the BLMA Manhood Academy course and First Thursdays Mentor Luncheons. Paul works to inspire students as academically critical contributors, while preserving their cultural and individual dignity through positive relationships. To further these goals, Paul serves on several equity-focused committees, challenging educators to not just be aware of biases, but to confront and override them by actively proliferating anti-racist, restorative, and culturally responsive practices.



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