Mindful Explorations presents award-winning author, social justice scholar Monique W. Morris to discuss empowering Black girls

An award-winning author and social justice scholar is the featured presenter in this year’s first Mindful Explorations event at Indiana University East.

Monique W. Morris, Ed.D., will virtually present “Empowering Black Girls in Schools and Society” at 5:15 p.m. on Wednesday, October 6, on IU East Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/events/285833289753954.  The presentation will begin with a panel discussion led by IU East faculty, and Morris’ presentation will begin at 6 p.m.

The presentation is free and open to the public.

portrait of Monique W. Morris

Monique W. Morris, Ed.D., an award-winning author and social justice scholar with three decades of experience in the areas of education, civil rights, juvenile and criminal justice, will virtually present during IU East’s Mindful Explorations event on October 6.

Morris has 30 years of experience in education, civil rights, and juvenile and criminal justice. She is the president/CEO of Grantmakers for Girls of Color, a philanthropic collaborative that supports a world where all girls and young women of color can thrive.

She is the executive producer and co-writer of the documentary film, Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools, which will be available for participants to view ahead of the event. The film is based on two of her books – Sing A Rhythm, Dance A Blues: Education for Liberation of Black and Brown Girls and Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools.

For the Mindful Explorations discussion, Morris will expand on themes in the documentary and the continuing urgency of understanding and responding to the experiences of Black girls in schools and social institutions.

The event is sponsored by the IU East School of Education, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the School of Nursing and Health Sciences, the School of Business and Economics, the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and Mindful Explorations, courtesy of the William H. and Jean R. Reller Endowment.

Morris is a prolific writer about social justice issues and has lectured widely on research, policies and practices associated with improving juvenile/criminal justice, educational, and socioeconomic conditions for girls and women of color. She is the Founder of the National Black Women’s Justice Institute (NBWJI), which works to interrupt school-to-confinement pathways for girls and reduce barriers to employment for formerly incarcerated women, and increase the capacity of organizations working to reduce sexual assault and domestic violence in African American communities.

Josh Tolbert, associate professor of education, said he was inspired by Morris’ books, which eventually led to the plan to bring her to IU East for Mindful Explorations.

“I read Pushout in 2016 and it was really powerful. I had already been teaching for quite some time, and what Dr. Morris wrote made me reevaluate my own past practice and completely reshaped the way I thought about the future,” Tolbert said.

Tolbert added the documentary and the virtual event will be beneficial to anyone, not just those in education.

“Her work focuses on the experience of black girls and black women in society. It is so relevant to everything – nursing, business, criminal justice, women’s and gender studies, to name a few,” Tolbert said.

Morris also excels not only in presenting the existing problems, but also on developing programs and solutions to respond appropriately,” Tolbert said. “Her work has a universal quality to it.”

He trusts the presentation and discussion will “raise awareness and create a desire in people to keep working for equity in our communities.”

To view the documentary ahead of the event, individuals with an IU login can access it through the Campus Library at https://purl.dlib.indiana.edu/iudl/media/q27z60kj19. Community members without an IU login are encouraged to contact the Campus Library at liblearn@iue.edu for access to the documentary.

Morris has an extensive background.

She is also the author of Black Stats: African Americans by the Numbers in the Twenty-First Century (The New Press, 2014), Too Beautiful for Words (MWM Books, 2012), and she worked with Kemba Smith on her book, Poster Child: The Kemba Smith Story (IBJ Book Publishing, 2011). Morris has written dozens of articles, book chapters, and other publications on social justice issues and lectured widely on research, policies, and practices associated with improving juvenile/criminal justice, educational, and socioeconomic conditions for girls and women of color.

Her 2018 TED Talk on how to stop the criminalization of Black girls in schools has received more than 1.8 million views and been translated into 18 languages.

Morris served as an adjunct associate professor for Saint Mary’s College of California between 2013-2018 and has taught at the University of San Francisco and California State University, Sacramento. She is a 2012 Soros Justice Fellow, the former vice president for Economic Programs, Advocacy and Research at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the former director of research for the Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice at the UC Berkeley Law School.

She has worked in partnership with and served as a consultant for federal, state and county agencies, national academic and research institutions, and communities throughout the nation to develop research, comprehensive approaches and training curricula to eliminate racial/ethnic and gender disparities in justice and educational systems. Her work in this area has informed the development and implementation of improved culturally competent and gender-responsive continua of services for youth.

Her work has been profiled by MSNBC, CSPAN2, The Washington Post, The New York Times, NPR, and PBS, among other national and local print, radio, and television media. Morris’ research intersects race, gender, education and justice to explore the ways in which Black communities, and other communities of color, are uniquely affected by social policies. She also frequently lectures on the life and legacy of the artist Prince.