Isaiah Spencer-Williams performs spoken word
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Performers and activists use art to spark change at Pitt’s Diversity Forum 2022

  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The Cathedral of Learning was filled Tuesday night with the sounds of inclusion, activism, empowerment and social justice.

Spoken word performers, writers and hip-hop artists gathered with Pitt community members for “Sparking Change: An Evening with Friends,” an intimate, in-person celebration of art as a source of joy, resilience and community during this year’s Diversity Forum.

We are thankful for the awesome artists that we have tonight, an array of folks who helped us think about a better world through the pen, through dance, and through other forms of creativity,” said Ron Idoko, diversity and multi-cultural program manager of the Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Taylor Waits, a PhD student in Pitt’s Department of English, served as DJ and emcee.

The event featured spoken word performer and PhD student in environmental engineering Isaiah Spencer-Williams, hip-hop songwriter and 1Hood educator Jordan “Livefromthecity” Howard, writer and slam poet Adriana Ramirez, and singer Britney Yauger and pianist Thanakarn Limtham.

Howard’s mother, Lydia Howard, who attended the event, said the night’s artistic expressions helped introduce people to new perspectives.

“I think it's important to have events like these, because as people keep talking about ending racism and getting to know each other, how will we get to know each other?” she said.

“Art is a wonderful way to get to know each other because a lot of people may not listen to rap. They may not listen to somebody sing a ballad by somebody who plays on the keyboard. They may not listen to spoken word. This gave an opportunity to understand it all.”

The Center for Creativity and Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion hosted the event in the center’s new space in the basement of the Cathedral of Learning, B50. The event was also livestreamed as part of the Diversity Forum 2022, “Rewiring Our Systems: Transforming the Intersections of Inequity,” held for free online from July 25-28.


— Donovan Harrell; photos by Mike Drazdzinski, University of Pittsburgh


Top photo: Isaiah Spencer-Williams, a PhD student in environmental engineering, performs spoken word.