Kendi to speak at inaugural Dr. Henry H. Parker Speaker Series

For 33 years, Dr. Henry H. Parker was a professor of philosophy at UT Martin. For 25 years before that, he was a professor at the University of Northern Iowa. He served as an instructor at the University of Minnesota-Morris for four years.

Now, Parker is getting recognition for his extensive experience in higher education.

The inaugural Dr. Henry H. Parker Speaker Series and Legacy Luncheon will be held Friday, Oct. 20, at the Duncan Ballroom in the Boling University Center. The luncheon will be held at 11 a.m., and the guest speaker, Dr. Ibram Kendi, will begin at noon. A book signing will take place following the moderated conversation.

There is no cost for the luncheon. A registration form will be made available soon.

Kendi is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University. He is the founding director of the BU Center for Antiracist Research and a contributor to The Atlantic magazine and CBS News.

“His relentless and passionate research puts into question the notion of a post-racial society and opens readers’ and audiences’ eyes to the reality of racism in American today,” states his biographical extract.

Kendi is the youngest person to receive the National Book Award for Nonfiction for “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America.” He has authored several books and produced five back-to-back New York Times bestsellers.

In 2020, Kendi was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine. He received the MacArthur Fellowship – popularly known as “the genius grant” – in 2021.

Henri Giles, a lecturer in the UTM Department of Mass Media and Strategic Communication, is coordinating the Dr. Henry Parker Speaker Series.

She said that when she mentions that Kendi is coming to UT Martin as a guest speaker, students and faculty are impressed that a person of Kendi’s stature is coming to campus.

“There are a lot of people behind the scenes who are pulling things together to make this a nice event,” Giles said. “One of the things that I take pride in is bringing someone of the caliber of Dr. Ibram Kendi to UT Martin.”

Giles said she hoped that some of Parker’s students can attend this inaugural event to celebrate Parker and his teaching career.

“It will be a really nice moment to honor one person who has done such extraordinary work at UT Martin,” she said. “He was here for over 33 years, but more importantly, his higher education tenure spans more than 67 years.

“I don’t know anyone who has taught in higher ed for that long – and specifically, I certainly don’t know of an African-American who has taught in higher ed that long.”

The inaugural Dr. Henry H. Parker Speaker Series was scheduled for Homecoming Week to enable alumni to take part and visit with Parker.

“It’s just a big celebration,” Giles said. “It’s Homecoming weekend, a lot of people will be on campus – a lot of alumni – and of course, the students will be here. It’s one of those events that parents who will be here for that could attend with their children. I think that the more events we can have like that, it will make the educational experience more special to our students, to be able to attend with their parents.”

For more information, visit the Dr. Henry H. Parker Speaker Series website.

Photo: Dr. Henry H. Parker (left) and Dr. Ibram Kendi.

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