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‘Racing Toward Justice’: In conversation with Dr. Carolyn Finney on April 7

| Denise Olson

Photo caption: Dr. Carolyn Finney pursued an acting career for more than a decade before completing her master's and doctoral degrees in environmental studies, and her connection to the arts is still a pivotal aspect of her work.

The Center for Racial and Restorative Justice at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will present the sixth installment in the “Racing Toward Justice” speaker series at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 7.

Special guest Dr. Carolyn Finney is a writer, artist and cultural geographer currently serving as artist-in-residence in the Franklin Environmental Center at Middlebury College in Vermont. With extensive travel, conservation and national park advocacy work in her background, Finney describes most of her most recent work as various investigations into the “complicated relationship between race, land and ‘belonging’ in the United States.”

This virtual Racing Toward Justice event can be joined live via Zoom at this link. The 6 p.m. presentation will be followed by a 15-minute Q&A session with viewers; questions may be submitted via the chat window. Dr. Gloria Howerton, assistant professor of geography and anthropology at UW-Eau Claire, will moderate the discussion.  

Finney’s presentation is titled “Unscripted: On Being Black, Dreaming ‘Green’ and Playing the Long Game,” in which she weaves together histories of Americans’ collective past, examines the differences in our relationships with the land, and explores the “power of reconciliation, accountability and emergence” in a new potential future communing with nature.

Finney published her first book in 2014, titled “Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors.” In it, Finney attempts to answer the question “Why are African Americans so underrepresented when it comes to interest in nature, outdoor recreation and environmentalism?” and she combines her expertise in environmental history, cultural studies and geography to examine these ideas.

The prolific author has also published many articles and essays in publications like The Atlantic, Newsweek, Outside Magazine, The New York Times and more.

Finney has been a frequent guest on wide-ranging media outlets such as MSNBC, NPR, REI Radio, the "Tavis Smiley Show" and more. She served for eight years on the U.S. National Parks Advisory Board, and recently earned the Alexander and Ilse Melamid Medal from the American Geographical Society for her “outstanding work illuminating the dynamic relationship between human culture and natural resources.”

Follow this link for Finney’s live presentation.