News » Anti-Racism Coalition to Hold Fall Education Series

Anti-Racism Coalition to Hold Fall Education Series

As the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) strives to make anti-racism an indelible part of its culture, the newly formed SMHS Anti-Racism Coalition (ARC) is set to launch a new educational series this fall to help students, faculty, and staff better understand concepts such as anti-racism and structural racism.

“I participated in several town halls across the GW schools over the past three months, and something I consistently noticed was that we were using terms like ‘anti-racism, ‘structural racism,’ etc. with the assumption that participants understood, equally, what these terms meant,” said Grace Henry, EdD, director of the SMHS Office of Diversity and Inclusion. “I felt we were missing a crucial step in understanding what it takes to become an institution known as a highly inclusive anti-racist community. As a result, we determined that it was important to provide education around concepts we’ve become familiar with but may not universally understand.”

The Anti-Racism Coalition, housed within the SMHS Office of Diversity and Inclusion, was conceived from a grassroots discussion after the death of George Floyd. It is focusing on four pillars of anti-racism work: individual, interpersonal, institutional, and structural.

The Education Series, which kicks off Sept. 1, will focus on the first pillar: Individual, which is about taking active measures to increase one’s growth and development on issues of equity and justice, said Henry.  

Some of the sessions, which will be held virtually via WebEx, include:

Sept. 1: “Understanding the Connection Racism and the Social Determinants of Health,” hosted by Cara Lichtenstein, MD, MPH, assistant professor of pediatrics at SMHS.

Sept. 15: A lecture by Vanessa Northington Gamble, MD, PhD, professor of medical humanities and of American studies in the GW Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, on “Medicine, Public Health, and Anti-Racism Activism: The Life and Career of Dr. Virginia M. Alexander (1899-1949).” Alexander in 1931 founded the Aspiranto Health Home in Philadelphia, which served the third-largest African American community in the U.S. at the time.

Sept. 15: The GW Office of Diversity, Equity, and Community Engagement, will sponsor a keynote address by Nikole Hannah-Jones, a staff writer at The New York Times who created The 1619 Project, commemorating the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery.

Oct. 17: “How to Talk about Race, Power and Privilege,” a faculty development workshop presented by Susan LeLacheur, MPH, DrPH, professor of physician assistant studies at SMHS, and Howard Straker, MPH, PA-C, EdD, director of the PA-MPH program and assistant professor of PA studies at SMHS.

November: REAL Talk Diversity Dialogue session: “Where Do We Go From Here?: Unpacking the 2020 Election”

Also in November, there will be a community discussion forum to talk about the Ava DuVernay documentary “13th,” about the 13th Amendment. The documentary can be found for free on YouTube.

“We hope that by participating in the ARC Educational Series, members of our community will be intrigued to learn more about our local and national histories, as well as be encouraged to be brave and bold in their pursuit of a more just society,” said Henry.

She added that the coalition is open to any recommendations for future topics and speaker recommendations, and hopes the series will continue with more lectures and discussions in the spring.

For more information about events from the SMHS Office of Diversity & Inclusion, please visit