North Central News

Austin Channing Brown inspires leadership on racial justice during Welcome Week

Kara Kots

Oct 01, 2020

Each year, Welcome Week at North Central College offers valuable workshops and events for first-year students to acclimate to campus, meet other students and learn more about the College’s expectations and initiatives. Welcome Week 2020 included a virtual keynote session with bestselling author, public speaker and media producer Austin Channing Brown.   

At the event, Brown and Megan Cole Paustian, associate professor of English, led the conversation, discussing Brown’s book, “I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness,” and her time as an executive producer of “The Next Question: A Web Series Imagining How Expansive Racial Justice Can Be.” Students were encouraged to participate in impactful conversations regarding racial equality and social justice.  

Rachel Pridgen, director of student involvement and transition programs, expressed the event’s importance, especially for first-year students.  

“To have bestselling author Austin Channing Brown be a keynote during Welcome Week was an opportunity for a leading presenter of anti-racism work to impact our campus and our new students starting college. It was an honor to have her speak to her experience of growing up Black in predominantly white spaces,” said Pridgen. “North Central College has a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, and it is important that the programming can begin as soon as the students arrive for Welcome Week.” 

A powerful voice, Brown’s New York Times’ bestseller “I’m Still Here” offers an eye-opening account of growing up Black, Christian and female in America. Since the release of her book in 2018, Brown has spoken at numerous universities, churches and businesses across the nation. Through her workshops, she successfully provides inspired leadership on racial justice in America.  

“The program’s goal during Welcome Week is to start the conversation and continue the affirming message that Black Lives Matter and racial justice are the ultimate goals, but it takes work,” said Pridgen. “New students were able to hear from Brown and have a follow-up discussion with faculty and staff about diversity and equity in their own lives.” 

“Some students are having social justice conversations for the first time, and others are strong activists continuing the hard work to equity. This event allowed all voices to be heard and begin the conversation about creating a more inclusive community on our campus.”  

To learn more about Austin Channing Brown and her transformative work, visit her website. 

A picture of Austin Channing Brown, who spoke at North Central College.

Austin Channing Brown