The Office of Student Life hosted speaker Dr. Craig Ford in lecture, Creating Communities Where #Black Lives Matter, on Sept. 22.
Ford is an assistant professor of Theology and Religious Studies at Saint Norbert College where he teaches courses in Christian Ethics, Religious Identity, Peace and Justice and Christian Theology. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame, Yale Divinity School and Boston College. Ford writes on topics at the intersection of queer theory, critical race theory and the Catholic moral tradition. He is currently working on a book project and an edited work funded by a grant from the Louisville Institute that is supposed to represent perspectives on the future of theology told from the perspectives of queer Catholic theologians of color. Ford is sought out as a workshop leader on issues of racial, sexual and gender justice in Catholic parishes and other universities.
Ford was chosen to speak with Iona students on campus because of his qualifications and personal experiences as a person of color, according to Melissa Aponte, director of student development.
“We chose to bring Dr. Ford to Iona College due to his background working in very similar institutions to Iona,” Aponte said. “He is also highly credentialed in the field of social justice and race relations. We felt that his own experiences as a man of color working at a predominately white campus would resonate with our students.”
The event was a two-part program. On Sept. 21, Ford sat with student leaders of color including representatives from SLAM, BSU and SGA. He asked students about their experiences and challenges. He then used the information he gained as a foundation for the presentation he gave on Sept. 22, according to Julia Romano, assistant director of student development.
In the lecture, Ford spoke of ways to be anti-racist at the institutional and individual level. Romano believes that much of Iona’s efforts to be anti-racist comes from the students.
“I think we can see Iona’s efforts to be anti-racist in the reflection of our students,” Romano said. “Seeing students show up, have these conversations and how they hold each other accountable. In addition, you can really see it in our student groups, choosing to educate and raise awareness among their peers through various programs throughout campus.”
Romano also gained a takeaway from the lecture.
“I felt very proud and appreciated seeing the students come together, be respectful of one another and engage in a difficult conversation,” Romano said. “I personally, gained more insight into challenges our students face, and like the students I realized that there is a lot as an administrator that I can do to continue these conversations and in my everyday interactions with students to continue efforts of anti-racism.”
Aponte was pleased to see student who did not know one another speak upon the topic.
“I felt that the students found a safe place to come together and begin the conversation around racism,” Aponte said. “I appreciated seeing students who may not have known each other prior to the event getting to know each other and share ideas with one another.”