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'Racing Toward Justice' series begins Sept. 15 with Chanel Miller

| Denise Olson

Photo caption: Chanel Miller is a writer and artist who received her bachelor's degree in literature from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Miller, a sexual assault survivor, will offer a virtual presentation on Sept. 15 that focuses on writing and victims' rights. (Photo by Mariah Tiffany)

Author and victims' rights advocate Chanel Miller will be the first speaker of the 2021-22 "Racing Toward Justice" series, a program offered by the Center for Racial and Restorative Justice at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

The virtual event will stream live at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 15, at uwec.ly/live, with live viewing in the Woodland Theater of Davies Student Center on campus.

Miller was once known to the public only as "Emily Doe," the voice of a powerful victim statement read in the 2015 sexual assault case against Brock Turner, then a student at Stanford University. Turner was convicted in 2016 on three charges of felony sexual assault for raping and assaulting an unconscious female. He was sentenced by a judge to six months in prison and served only three months; the California judge was later recalled.  

In 2019, Miller allowed her name to become public with the release of her book, "Know My Name: A Memoir."  In her book, Miller recounts the 2015 events and their aftermath, indicting not only the man who assaulted her, but also the system she says failed her.

The Washington Post referred to the book in 2019 as "a gut-punch, and in the end, also blessedly hopeful," a message in which Miller challenges her readers to “spread truth and question systems that aren’t working.”

Miller’s memoir was a New York Times bestseller, NYT Book Review Notable Book, National Book Critics Circle Award Winner and a best book of 2019 from Time, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, National Public Radio and People. 

The Sept. 15 event at UW-Eau Claire will include a five-minute reading; a 40-minute conversation about personal narrative, writing and empowerment; and a 15-minute question and answer session with the audience.

Kallie Friede, an associate student services coordinator in the Gender & Sexuality Resource Center at UW-Eau Claire and a member of the speaker selection committee for the "Racing Toward Justice" series, says she is looking forward to Miller sharing her story with campus and community members.

"I’m excited for Chanel Miller to speak directly to survivors about empowerment and agency," Friede says. "Her letter as Emily Doe in the Brock Turner case already changed so many of our lives, and coming forward publicly with her name, story and her memoir has continued to empower survivors in infinite ways. Sexual violence is a topic on which every single one of us needs to engage, and I think Chanel is the perfect person to facilitate that process."

"Racing Toward Justice" is the flagship program of the Center for Racial and Restorative Justice, an initiative established in 2019 at UW-Eau Claire. The center's goal is to educate students and the greater Eau Claire community about the history of race in America and the barriers to upward mobility for people of color.

The sponsors of the "Racing Toward Justice" series are BMO Harris Bank, The Forum Series, the Gender & Sexuality Resource Center, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, Recreation and Sport Operations, Blugold Athletics and the UW-Eau Claire Foundation.