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The Forum presents Mohammed Soriano-Bilal, a virtual event on Oct. 27

| Denise Olson

Photo caption: Mohammed Soriano-Bilal of Stanford University will appear as a special Forum speaker at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 27 in a virtual presentation via Zoom.

On Oct. 27, the 78th season of the UW-Eau Claire Forum series will host nationally recognized diversity advocate and expert Mohammed Soriano-Bilal for a whole new kind of Forum presentation — an interactive virtual event.

Soriano-Bilal's Forum presentation will begin at 7:30 p.m. and will be hosted via Zoom, a platform allowing up to 300 participants per session. This event is free for UW-Eau Claire students, faculty and staff, and will be available to the general public for a charge of $5. Attendees must preregister for the Zoom event via the Blugold ticketing website. Campus users will be directed to a login page.

Soriano-Bilal's appearance will be the first-ever virtual UW-Eau Claire Forum event. His "12 Steps Toward Appreciating Diversity" presentation is a poetry/rap/narrative show that draws from both humorous and poignant personal experiences as a Black man in America, offering listeners unique opportunities to experience racism and discrimination from personal recollections and challenge themselves to "get uncomfortable" as they examine their own beliefs and behaviors. 

The format for the virtual event will include the usual Q&A segment following the presentation, and attendees are asked to submit their questions in advance to organizers at activities@uwec.edu.

Joann Martin, student services coordinator in the Activities, Involvement and Leadership office, is pleased to announce that despite the restrictions surrounding COVID-19, this signature campus series will continue to present not only diverse voices but national leaders in advocacy of diversity and equity of all types.

"It's important to note the Forum series speakers are selected by a committee composed of community members, faculty, staff and students," Martin says. "The Forum has a history of hosting speakers with expertise around matters of inequality related to accessibility, race, socioeconomic status, gender and much more. From Coretta Scott King, Temple Grandin, Maya Angelou and, most recently, Ibram X. Kendi, we strive to elevate diverse voices. The format has not changed since its inception 78 seasons ago and has been adapted to be accessible and just as engaging as any other season. Despite the 2020 season being virtual, we can all benefit from The Forum speakers' expertise and knowledge to continue our own individual growth."

Soriano-Bilal began his public life as the voice of reason on MTV's "Real World: San Francisco" during the 1990s. He is now an accomplished diversity and inclusion consultant and strategist, poet, and award-winning producer of music and film. As a facilitator of hundreds of diversity and inclusion presentations and workshops, Soriano-Bilal works to help organizations recognize and dismantle structural and ideological roadblocks to their own growth. 

With a Master of Fine Arts in design from the California College of the Arts, Soriano-Bilal is a multidisciplinary artist who has collaborated with such performers as Santana, Public Enemy, Ben Harper, De La Soul, Danny Glover and Mos Def; his music has been featured on NBC, the CW and the Sundance Film Festival. He wrote a weekly column titled "Howling at the Moon" for the San Francisco Bay Guardian, a publication reaching a daily viewership of over 100,000; and his film work includes "If I Were President," an election campaign that helped register 200,000 first-time voters of color, and "Vocabulary of Change," a conversation between Angela Davis and Tim Wise.

As executive director of the African American Art & Culture Complex, one of San Francisco's six cultural centers, Soriano-Bilal led a strategic shift resulting in a 21% increase in revenue. He serves as associate dean and director for diversity and inclusion programs at Stanford University, where he oversees a team of world-class facilitators and explores his scholarly passion for the confluence of equity, art and innovation.