“Artists are empathy dealers in a callous culture.”
Kara Walker MFA 94 PT/PR
The Center for Social Equity & Inclusion hosts some of the most essential scholars, artists, designers, and practitioners of our time and works to actively engage with our surrounding communities as central to RISD’s mission to educate the public about art and design and contribute to a diverse, globally engaged society.
The MLK keynote address serves as the centerpiece of the MLK Series and aims to highlight the role of creative endeavor in advancing democracy and equity. The lecture honors the vast contributions of Dr. King toward creating a more just and democratic society and acknowledges an individual whose legacy of service and commitment to justice has made an indelible difference.
Past MLK honorees and keynote speakers include legal scholar and activist Michelle Alexander (2020), scholar and activist Cornel West (2019), author and cultural critic Roxane Gay (2018), filmmaker, author and diversity trainer Lee Mun Wah (2018), artist, educator and human rights activist Emory Douglas (2017), ambassador and diplomat Andrew Young (2016), artist Faith Ringgold (2016), actor / humanitarian Danny Glover (2015), children’s advocate Marian Wright Edelman (2014), artist / activist Harry Belafonte(2013), writer/activist Angela Davis (2012), nonviolence strategist Dr. Bernard Lafayette (2006), and scholar Bakari Kitwana (2005).
Indigenous and First Nations Artist Series
The Center for Social Equity & Inclusion in partnership with Professor Duane Slick (Meskwaki) bring to campus two indigenous or First Nations artists each year. Past visiting artists have included Nicholas Galanin (Tlingit/Aleut), Sonya Kelliher-Combs (Iñupiaq), and Will Wilson (Diné).
RISD Community Service Programming
MLK Day of Service
The Center for Student Involvement planned and executed the MLK Day of Service during which RISD students, faculty and staff volunteered their time and talent to provide children at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School with the opportunity to engage with a variety of arts-and crafts activities.
Pre-Orientation Service Experience (POSE)
Student leaders welcomed new RISD students to Providence by engaging in community service projects with them through the Southside Cultural Center, Providence Children's Museum, Resources in Human Development Rhode Island, Blackstone Conservation Project, Artists' Exchange, AS220, Southside Community Land Trust and more.
Leadership and Community Engagement Program (LACE)
Students work on a semester-long project that tackles issues of social justice alongside community partners such as:
- Artists’ Exchange
- Southside Cultural Community Center
- Southside Community Land Trust
- International House of Rhode Island
- Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island
- Mt. Hope Learning Center
- DownCity Design
This leadership program highlights community partners who are doing excellent work with underrepresented communities through a free lecture series. A free meal is also offered at each RISD Leads lecture.
As a celebration of diverse identities throughout the college and museum, the award-winning RISDiversity programming has proven especially effective in both community-building and fundraising. Our landmark 2016 publication, RISDiversity: Community Narratives, and the accompanying series of web stories have given voice to many individuals in our community to express who they are.
Now in its sixth year, the RISDiversity: Community Narratives Project will focus on telling the stories of members of our community who are Abled Differently. The project will explore the lives, work and spirit of people experiencing physical, emotional, mental and chronic health disabilities.
Museum Community Programming
The Museum has adopted a holistic approach toward aligning our work toward social equity and inclusion, including significantly shifting acquisition priorities to ensure that the collection reflects global, racial, and gender diversity; developing new guidelines for exhibitions and programs that place an emphasis on diversity and inclusion; and creating new opportunities to develop a pipeline for greater professional diversity among museum curators and educators, including the Nancy Prophet Fellowship. This work is also reflected in a broadened marketing approach and in how, where, and to whom the Museum builds awareness of the increased opportunities for participation in our programs.
Welcome Citizen Program
The Museum announced a program to welcome newly naturalized U.S. citizens living in RI with a free one-year membership. New citizens can sign up at the visitor services desk by showing a copy of their naturalization certificate.