PRHSB proudly represents a roster of speakers who spark conversations on campuses nationwide, enhancing students’ learning experiences and broadening perspectives with their unique expertise. With some campuses returning to in-person learning this fall and others remaining hybrid or remote, these speakers cater to all learning environments by addressing the most current topics on students’ minds. Read on for more about each speaker and their work, as well as some upcoming speaker events that may interest your team!
Brittany K. Barnett is an award-winning attorney and entrepreneur. Renowned for working on Alice Marie Johnson’s legal team in a case that brought Kim Kardashian West to the White House, Barnett has devoted her career to transforming the flawed American criminal justice system and our understanding of incarceration. She speaks openly about her dedication to challenging and dismantling life sentences in prison for federal drug offenses, as well as the critical intersection between entrepreneurship and transformative justice.
Emily Bernard is a professor of American Studies at the University of Vermont specializing in the complicated history of race and racism in American culture. In her powerful essay collection, Black is the Body, Bernard reflects on blackness, whiteness, and the personal connections that can bridge racial divides. Bernard discusses her evolution as a storyteller, as well as the role of the classroom and personal relationships in the larger project of understanding the past, present, and future of race.
Dr. Michele Harper has worked as an emergency room physician for more than a decade. As a Black woman in an overwhelmingly white and male profession, Dr. Harper is passionate about the persistent societal issues that impact patients and providers alike. In her memoir, The Beauty in Breaking, and her talks, she weaves personal stories of trauma and resiliency into an ode to service and healing and emphasizes the importance of dismantling bigotry on a personal and structural level.
Megha Majumdar‘s bestselling novel, A Burning, is set in a contemporary India spinning toward extremism. With a fresh voice and insightful analysis, Majumdar speaks to audiences about her perspective as a writer from the diaspora and the troubling conditions in both her current home and her country of origin that fuel her writing. In lectures tailored to aspiring writers, she also discusses her craft, from the overlapping relationship between writer and editor to the project of writing politically-engaged fiction in a time of crisis.
Charles Yu is a screenwriter and the author of the National Book Award-winning novel Interior Chinatown, a genre-bending masterpiece that explores the confining stereotypes of Asian Americans in Hollywood and in American culture more broadly. In entertaining and thought-provoking lectures, Yu speaks to audiences of all kinds about the Asian American experience, representation and stereotypes in film and television, and the unique power of science fiction to address the human condition.
Cathy Park Hong is a poet and essayist whose bestselling, award-winning book, Minor Feelings, is a searching work that ruthlessly reckons with the American racial consciousness. The book weaves together personal stories, historical context, and cultural criticism to create an emotional and impactful exploration of Asian American personhood. In her moving talks, Hong offers a fresh and honest perspective on race and Asian American identity, discusses how poetry and writing can be a means for understanding our world, and comments on the ways politics and culture are influenced by art—and vice versa.
Yaa Gyasi’s debut New York Times-bestselling historical novel, Homegoing, movingly chronicles the descendants of a Ghanaian family across history, oceans, and continents. Gyasi’s sophomore novel, Transcendent Kingdom, similarly traces Ghanaian heritage, this time through a family living in the modern American South. Informed by her experience as the child of Ghanaian immigrants to America, Gyasi interweaves history, current events, and her own personhood to explore the complexities and intersections of African immigrant and African-American identities in the United States today.