Thought leaders are the go-to people that we turn to to get inspiration for a movement; their ideas and actions are influential and substantial.
Here are a few folx who are leading the charge of race, equity, diversity, and inclusion. Give them a follow on social media and then feel free to share key takeaways, interesting articles, or your personal experiences on our Let's Talk Race padlet. This list of thought leaders was compiled by Richland Library’s nationally recognized, Let’s Talk Race Team.*
"is an Akron, Ohio born public academic, writer, and lecturer. Her activist and academic work are rooted in providing intellectual discourse, tools, and resources that explore the intersection of race and womanhood. Her social media platforms engage a community of over 1.8 million through which Rachel guides conversations, encourages critical thinking and nurtures meaningful engagement with people all over the world. Her upcoming book, I Don’t Want Your Love and Light with The Dial Press/Penguin Random House, is an examination of feminism through the lens of race and how we are in relationship with ourselves and one another." - Website
is the Augusta Baker Endowed Chair and an Associate Professor at the School of Library and Information Science, at the University of South Carolina. Dr. Cooke is a 2012 graduate from Rutgers University with a PhD in communication, information, and library studies. She holds the MLS degree from Rutgers University, and a M.Ed. in Adult Education from Pennsylvania State University.
Dr. Cooke’s research and teaching interests include human information behavior, fake news consumption and resistance, critical cultural information studies, and diversity and social justice in librarianship (with an emphasis on infusing them into LIS education and pedagogy).
Dr. Cooke was named a Mover & Shaker by Library Journal in 2007, she was awarded the 2016 ALA Equality Award, and she was presented with the 2017 ALA Achievement in Library Diversity Research Award, presented by the Office for Diversity and Literacy Outreach Services. She has also been honored as the Illinois Library Association’s 2019 Intellectual Freedom Award winner in recognition of her work in combating online hate and bullying in LIS, and she was selected as the Association for Library and Information Science Education's 2019 Excellence in Teaching award winner.
Cooke has published numerous articles and book chapters. Her latest books are “Information Services to Diverse Populations” (Libraries Unlimited, 2016) and “Fake News and Alternative Facts: Information Literacy in a Post-truth Era"(ALA Editions. 2018). Dr. Cooke's website
is an award-winning author of science fiction and fantasy novels, cofounder of Disability in Kidlit and coined the hashtag #OwnVoices, an initiative which highlights books and other media where the author and protagonist share the same marginalized identity.
Dr. Eberhardt is the co-director of SPARQ (Social Psychological Answers to Real-world Questions) at Stanford, " a 'do tank' that partners with industry leaders and change makers to reduce societal disparities and bridge social divides using insights from behavioral science."- Dr. Eberhart's Website
"is one of America’s foremost historians and leading antiracist voices. He is a National Book Award-winning and #1 New York Times bestselling author. Kendi is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities and the Founding Director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research. Kendi is a contributor writer at The Atlantic and a CBS News correspondent. He will become the 2020-2021 Frances B. Cashin Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for the Advanced Study at Harvard University."- Author website
"is an expert on conflict and violence. He has served as director of counseling services for the Tubman Family Alliance; as behavioral health director for African American Family Services in Minneapolis; as a domestic violence counselor for Wilder Foundation; as a certified Military and Family Life Consultant for the U.S. Armed Forces; as a trauma consultant for the Minneapolis Public Schools; and as a Cultural Somatics consultant for the Minneapolis Police Department. As a Community Care Counselor, he managed the wellness and counseling services for civilians on fifty-three US military bases in Afghanistan. Resmaa studied and trained at Peter Levine’s Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute, as well as with Dr. David Schnarch (author of the bestselling Passionate Marriage). He currently teaches workshops on Cultural Somatics for audiences of African Americans, European Americans, and police officers. He is also a therapist in private practice."- Author Website
is the author of the novel The Sympathizer which was a "New York Times best seller and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. He is a University Professor, the Aerol Arnold Chair of English, and a Professor of English, American Studies and Ethnicity, and Comparative Literature at the University of Southern California.Most recently he has been the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim and MacArthur Foundations, and le Prix du meilleur livre étranger (Best Foreign Book in France), for The Sympathizer. He is a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times and the editor of The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives. His most recent publication is Chicken of the Sea, a children’s book written in collaboration with his six-year-old son, Ellison."- Author website
"is a Seattle-based writer, speaker, and Internet Yeller. She’s the author of the New York Times Best-Seller So You Want to Talk About Race, published in January by Seal Press. Named one of the The Root’s 100 Most Influential African Americans in 2017, one of the Most Influential People in Seattle by Seattle Magazine, one of the 50 Most Influential Women in Seattle by Seattle Met, and winner of the of the 2018 Feminist Humanist Award by the American Humanist Society, Oluo’s work focuses primarily on issues of race and identity, feminism, social and mental health, social justice, the arts, and personal essay. Her writing has been featured in The Washington Post, NBC News, Elle Magazine, TIME, The Stranger, and the Guardian, among other outlets."- Author Website
"is an award-winning educator, organizer, writer, and leader. Brittany has become a sought-after voice in the work of social change and empowerment. Brittany plays many roles, all focused on freedom.
Brittany is an NBC News and MSNBC Contributor and former two-time Fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics exploring social change and intersectional activism. A lifelong activist and proud member of the Ferguson Uprising, Brittany was co-host of the 2019 iHeart Radio Best Political Podcast, Pod Save The People, for three years.
Her 2019 TED Talk on the revolution of confidence has garnered nearly 4 million views worldwide, making it one of the top ten most popular TED Talks of 2019. Brittany is the author of the forthcoming book, We Are Like Those Who Dream, with One World, due to hit shelves in 2021.
Brittany is the Founder and Principal Love & Power Works a full-service social impact firm focused on creating justice and equity in every sector. This agency is a sister to Love & Power: The Brand, a hub created to inspire, empower, and outfit everyday people to seismically shift society.
From New Zealand to London, across the United States, and at the White House, Brittany has traveled extensively to impart lessons of movement building, social impact, leadership, and intersectional feminism to diverse audiences.
"is a New York Times bestselling author, a Newbery Award Honoree, a Printz Award Honoree, a National Book Award Finalist, a Kirkus Prize winner, a two-time Walter Dean Myers Award winner, a NAACP Image Award Winner, and the recipient of multiple Coretta Scott King Award honors. The American Booksellers Association’s 2017 and 2018 spokesperson for Indies First, his many books include When I Was the Greatest, Boy in the Black Suit,All American Boys (cowritten with Brendan Kiely), As Brave as You, For Every One, the Track series (Ghost, Patina, Sunny, and Lu), and Long Way Down, which received both a Newbery Honor and a Printz Honor."- National Book Foundation Website
"Bryan Stevenson is the founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, a human rights organization in Montgomery, Alabama. Under his leadership, EJI has won major legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerating innocent death row prisoners, confronting abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill, and aiding children prosecuted as adults.
Mr. Stevenson has initiated major new anti-poverty and anti-discrimination efforts that challenge inequality in America. He led the creation of two highly acclaimed cultural sites which opened in 2018: the Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. These new national landmark institutions chronicle the legacy of slavery, lynching, and racial segregation, and the connection to mass incarceration and contemporary issues of racial bias. Mr. Stevenson is also a Professor of Law at the New York University School of Law.
Mr. Stevenson...is the author of the critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Just Mercy, which was named by Time Magazine as one of the 10 Best Books of Nonfiction for 2014 and has been awarded several honors, including the American Library Association’s Carnegie Medal for best nonfiction book of 2015 and a 2015 NAACP Image Award. Just Mercy was recently adapted as a major motion picture. He is a graduate of the Harvard Law School and the Harvard School of Government." - EJI Website
In an effort to amplify the voices of local thought leaders, like you, we've created the Let's Talk Race padlet. We invite you to share resources, thought-provoking articles, videos and more that will help our community engage in discussions about race, challenge racism, and learn more about how we can move the needle towards racial equity.
*This list of thought leaders was compiled by Richland Library’s nationally recognized, Let’s Talk Race Team. Since 2016, they have been working to foster dialogue around race in our community, combat systemic racism, confront racial inequities, and host events that engage our community and encourage diverse and critical thinking. Explore more resources on race, equity and inclusion, here.