UCSB Arts & Lectures (A&L) announces Race to Justice spring 2021 events, part of its season-long, in-depth look at systemic racism. The initiative engages leading activists, musical artists, authors, and creative thinkers to expand understanding of racism and how race impacts society, and to inspire an expansive approach to advancing racial equality.

Race to Justice Spring 2021 virtual events include: Allyson Felix; Ranky Tanky; Dr. Robert Bullard; Theaster Gates; Bryan Stevenson; Heather McGhee; and Patrisse Cullors.

The virtual events are can be purchased by anyone, anywhere. Presentations will be followed by Q&As with the audience. Most virtual programs are an hour long starting at 5 p.m. and will be available for replay by ticket buyers for one week following the broadcast.

Spring 2021 lineup:

» The Most Decorated Track & Field Olympian in History
Allyson Felix
Advocacy and Equality in Sports and in Life
Tuesday, April 6 / 5 p.m. Pacific
$10 / free for UCSB students (registration required)

Felix is a nine-time Olympic medalist, six-time Olympic champion, World Record Holder and one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People. An advocate in many areas of life from pregnancy discrimination in athletics to advocating for underserved children and fighting for maternity rights, Felix talks about her experience with racism and discrimination even as a professional athlete.

As she gears up for the Tokyo Olympics, Felix remains at the forefront of the fight for equality for all in sports and in life.

The conversation with Dr. Ingrid Banks, chair of the UCSB Department of Black Studies, will be followed by a Q&A.

» Gullah Music of the Carolina Coast
Ranky Tanky
Thursday, April 15 / 5 p.m. Pacific
$10 / free for UCSB students (registration required)

 Charleston’s Ranky Tanky exploded onto the music scene with their inspired take on the soulful songs of South Carolina’s Gullah culture, taking home the 2020 Grammy win for Best Regional Roots Music Album.

With a name that translates loosely as “Get Funky,” Ranky Tanky is an upbeat ambassador of Gullah, a culture known for retaining more African linguistic and cultural heritage than any other African-American community in the U.S.

Preserving and paying homage to a vanishing way of life, the quintet introduces audiences to the language, rhythm and music of the region with a distinctly American sound that incorporates jazz, blues, gospel and R&B.

The performance will be followed by a Q&A moderated by Charles Donelan, Santa Barbara Independent executive arts editor. 

» The Father of Environmental Justice
Robert Bullard
The Quest for Environmental and Racial Justice
Wednesday, April 21 / 5 p.m. Pacific
$10 / free for UCSB students (registration required)

“America is still segregated and so is pollution,” says Robert Bullard, distinguished professor of Urban Planning and Environmental Policy at Texas Southern University.

With some four decades of action advocating for racial equality and fair environmental and urban planning, Bullard is widely considered the father of the environmental justice movement.

He was founding director of the Environmental Justice Resource Center at Clark Atlanta University, and is the award-winning author of 18 books that address sustainable development, environmental racism, climate justice, community resilience, regional equity and more.

In 2019, Apolitical named him one of the world’s 100 Most Influential People in Climate Policy and, in 2020, the United Nations Environment Program honored him with its Champions of the Earth Lifetime Achievement Award.

The presentation will be followed by a Q&A moderated by David N. Pellow, UCSB Dehlsen Chair of Environmental Studies and director of the Global Environmental Justice Project.

Presented in association with the Central Coast Climate Justice Network, Community Environmental Council, UCSB Bren School for Environmental Science & Management and UCSB Environmental Studies.

» Urban Planner, Artist and Activist
Theaster Gates
Thursday, April 29 / 5 p.m. Pacific
$10 / free for UCSB students (registration required)

An artist, musician and cultural planner, Gates creates work that focuses on space theory and land development, sculpture and performance. Drawing on his interest and training in urban planning and preservation, he redeems spaces that have been left behind, upturning art values, land values and human values.

Gates is a professor at the University of Chicago and founder and president of the Rebuild Foundation, which restores the cultural foundations of underinvested neighborhoods and incites movements of community revitalization.

The winner of Artes Mundi 6, Gates is also a recipient of the Nasher Prize for Sculpture, the Urban Land Institute Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development and France’s Légion d’Honneur and was recently named co-chair of fashion label Prada’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council. 

The presentation will be followed by a moderated Q&A.

» Founder of the Equal Justice Initiative
Bryan Stevenson
American Injustice: Mercy, Humanity and Making a Difference
Friday, April 30 / 5 p.m. Pacific
$10 / free for UCSB students (registration required)

One of the nation’s most visionary legal thinkers and social justice advocates, Stevenson has spent nearly four decades seeking to eradicate racial discrimination in the criminal justice system. A MacArthur Fellow, he is an attorney, human rights activist and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative.

He spearheaded Alabama’s Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, the first national memorial to victims of white supremacy, which opened in 2018. Stevenson is the subject of HBO’s 2019 documentary “True Justice.” His bestselling memoir “Just Mercy” was adapted into an a feature film of the same name.

The presentation will be followed by a moderated Q&A. Event sponsors: are Natalie Orfalea Foundation & Lou Buglioli.

» Author, Advocate and Public Policy Expert
Heather McGhee
The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together
Tuesday, May 4 / 5 p.m. Pacific
$10 / free for UCSB students (registration required)

McGhee’s specialty is the American economy, and the mystery of why it so often fails the American public. She played a leadership role in steering the historic Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and was one of the key advocates credited for the adoption of the Volcker Rule.

McGhee’s compassionate and stirring New York Times bestseller, “The Sum of Us,” reveals the devastating true cost of racism for everyone, and offers an actionable roadmap during one of the most critical — and most troubled — periods in history. 

The conversation with Sharon Tettegah, UCSB professor and director of the Center for Black Studies Research, will be followed by a Q&A.

» UCSB Reads Author Event
Patrisse Cullors
When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Dialogue
Wednesday, May 12 / 5 p.m. Pacific
Free event (registration required)

Artist, organizer and educator Patrisse Cullors is co-founder and executive director of the Black Lives Matter Global Network, founder of Dignity and Power Now and co-author (with asha bandele) of “When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir.”

A Los Angeles native, she co-founded the global Black Lives Matter movement in 2013 after sparking the viral Twitter hashtag. The movement has since expanded into an international organization with dozens of chapters around the world campaigning against anti-Black racism.

Cullors’ work for Black Lives Matter was recognized in Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020 list and its 100 Women of the Year 2020.

The event will be followed by a Q&A moderated by Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley, UCSB professor of Black Studies. 

Presented as part of UCSB Reads, sponsored by the UCSB Library and the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor with additional support from UCSB Arts & Lectures and a variety of campus and community partners.

» Race to Justice Free Film Screening

“We Are the Dream — The Kids of the Oakland MLK Oratorical Fest”

Thursday, June 3 / 8:30 p.m. Pacific / West Wind Drive-in
Free film admission is first come, first served (no advance registration).

Every year, hundreds of school children participate in the Oakland MLK Oratorical Festival, a public speaking competition featuring poetry and speeches inspired by the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The documentary directed by Emmy-winner Amy Schatz and executive produced by Academy Award-winner Mahershala Ali follows students from schools across the city as they hone their speeches, hoping for a coveted spot in the finals.

“We Are the Dream” presents a portrait of passionate young people presenting speeches on issues they care about – racial injustice, immigration and more – and a community that celebrates their powerful voices.

Masks and social distancing required. Distanced parking includes room to put chairs in front of your car.

Paramount to Arts & Lectures is amplifying Race to Justice’s impact In the community. An extensive educational and community outreach schedule will be integrated with Race to Justice programming, providing additional opportunities for UCSB students and members of the community to engage with the speakers and creators and their ideas.

For virtual events taking place from April through May, Race to Justice speakers will be meeting virtually with UCSB students from across the campus.

In addition, UCSB Arts & Lectures’ Thematic Learning Initiative is creating free opportunities for further engagement through partnerships with Santa Barbara County organizations focused on human services, at-risk populations and leadership, as well as tools for interested individuals and small groups to further explore race in society and promote racial equality.

Members of the community interested in the Thematic Learning Initiative can learn more about how to participate in Race to Justice activities throughout Santa Barbara County at www.thematic-learning.org.

Race to Justice sponsors and partners:

Race to Justice advisory committee: Susannah Scott, Divisional Chair of the Academic Senate; Sharon Tettegah, Director of the Center for Black Studies Research; Ingrid Banks, Chair of the Department of Black Studies; Kim Yasuda, Chair of the Department of Art; Charles Hale, SAGE Sara Miller McCune Dean of Social Sciences; and Belinda Robnett, Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Lead Sponsors: Marcy Carsey, Connie Frank & Evan Thompson, Patty & John MacFarlane, Sara Miller McCune, Santa Barbara Foundation, Lynda Weinman & Bruce Heavin, Dick Wolf, and Zegar Family Foundation.

Arts & Lectures presents Race to Justice in association with the following UCSB campus partners: Department of Black Studies, Center for Black Studies Research, Division of Social Sciences, Division of Humanities and Fine Arts, Division of Mathematical, Life, and Physical Sciences, Division of Student Affairs, Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, Graduate Division, Bren School for Environmental Science & Management, College of Creative Studies, College of Engineering, MultiCultural Center, Carsey-Wolf Center, The Program in Latin American and Iberian Studies, UCSB Library | UCSB Reads, Office of the Chancellor, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor.

Race to Justice Lead Sponsors: Marcy Carsey, Connie Frank & Evan Thompson, Patty & John MacFarlane, Sara Miller McCune, Santa Barbara Foundation, Lynda Weinman & Bruce Heavin, Dick Wolf and Zegar Family Foundation.

Thanks to Santa Barbara Independent, KCRW, Voice Magazine and Noozhawk.

UCSB Arts & Lectures gratefully acknowledges our Community Partners the Natalie Orfalea Foundation & Lou Buglioli for their generous support of the 2020-21 season.