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Pitt people facilitated and presented at a UN side event

Gabby Yearwood, Nicola Foote and Justin Hansford

More than 130 experts and advocates for reparatory justice attended a side event co-hosted by several University of Pittsburgh units during the second session of the United Nations’ Permanent Forum on People of African Descent.

The May 31 event — “Building a Case for U.S. Reparations" — is part of a larger initiative by Pitt's David C. Frederick Honors College, the Center for Civil Rights and Racial Justice, and the Center on Race and Social Problems (CRSP) to foster conversation and build a global database on racial equity.

The database project, which aligns with the U.N.'s goal to develop policy solutions that address the status of people of African descent around the globe, began with U.N. Permanent Forum member Justin Hansford's visit in fall 2022.

The Howard University professor of law came to Pittsburgh to present on narratives and data of racism. After hearing Hansford's community-engaged work, Pitt's Ron Idoko — who holds a dual role as associate director of CRSP and the Frederick Honors College's associate director for honors education in social innovation — initiated the global database collaboration.

"The database is actually designed to capture what we think are the best practices, initiatives and policies toward racial equity, and so that the United Nations' Permanent Forum can utilize that data as part of their global declaration in 2024 at the United Nations General Assembly," Idoko said.

Frederick Honors College Dean Nicola Foote opened the event, which corresponded with the Permanent Forum's second annual assembly, with a keynote on the school’s and Pitt’s commitment to supporting transformative social change and the Declaration on the Rights of People of African Descent. Other presenting partner organizations included Howard University School of Law, Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs, FirstRepair and the African American Redress Network. 

Editor's note: This story has been updated.

Photo by Ron Idoko. From left: Gabby Yearwood, managing faculty director of Pitt's Center for Civil Rights and Racial Justice; Nicola Foote, dean of the Frederick Honors College; and Justin Hansford, Howard University law professor and member of the United Nations' Permanent Forum on People of African Descent.