Webster Speaks

As part of ongoing efforts to underscore our commitment to social justice issues, Vincent C. Flewellen, chief diversity officer at Webster University, hosts a virtual speaker series, “Webster Speaks: Dialogues on RACE, EQUITY and INCLUSION.” The series features live discussions with thought leaders within the University and in the wider community, confronting systemic racism issues.

Listeners can get involved via Twitter by submitting any questions (in advance or during the event) using #WebsterSpeaks.

Following the livestream, each episode is listed in our archive below, and added to the Webster Speaks playlist on YouTube.

The opinions expressed by any speaker, panelist or participant in Webster Speaks represent the individual views of the person expressing such opinions and do not represent statements made by or on behalf of Webster University. The University presents this program for educational purposes and to encourage academic discourse.

Previous Episodes of Webster Speaks

Vincent C. Flewellen, Webster's chief diversity officer, talked about hot-button immigration issues with three distinguished panelists in the second Webster Speaks of the 2021-2022 academic year, Broken Promises: Immigrant Experiences in America, on Nov. 17, 2021.

Special Guests:

  • Betsy Cohen, Executive Director of the St. Louis Mosaic Project
  • Arrey Obenson, President and CEO of the International Institute of St. Louis
  • Sal Valdez, Hispanic Leaders Group of St. Louis

The 18th episode takes on the hot-button issue of immigration: the conflict between the Statue of Liberty and borders physical and political. Vincent C. Flewellen, Webster’s chief diversity officer, sat down with Betsy Cohen, author and executive director of the St. Louis Mosaic Project; Arrey Obenson, president and CEO of the International Institute, St. Louis; and Sal Valadez, a board member of the Hispanic Leaders Group of St. Louis and an official with the Laborers’ International Union of North America. They explored such topics as inequities in immigration policy, how immigrants enrich our society, and what unites us as Americans. You’ll also be moved by the experiences of foreign students, including the show’s moderator, Igho Ekakitie. Don’t miss this enlightening discussion on our replay.

Resources related to this episode:

Many African Americans have long felt distrustful of institutionalized medicine. Vincent C. Flewellen, Webster's chief diversity officer, explored answers with three distinguished panelists in the first Webster Speaks of the 2021-2022 academic year, Prescription for Change: A Discussion of the Inherent Disparities in Health Care, on Oct. 20, 2021.

Special Guests:

  • Jameca Woody Cooper, PhD, faculty member and program director, Webster University School of Education
  • Muthoni Musangali, PhD, chair, Webster University Department of Professional Counseling
  • Fredrick Echols, MD, acting health director, City of St. Louis

Discussing the mental and physical health care gap were Fredrick Echols, MD, acting director and health commissioner for the City of St Louis; Jameca Woody Cooper, PhD, a professor and program director in Webster’s School of Education and a psychologist in private practice at Emergence Psychological Solutions in St. Louis; and Muthoni Musangali, PhD, an associate professor in Webster’s Department of Professional Counseling. The guests discussed how many factors have contributed to a lower COVID-19 vaccination rate among the Black community. They include ingrained cultural beliefs, broader inequalities, the infamous 1932-1972 Tuskegee Study of syphilis, and systemic racism. The solution: a commitment to education, fostering a sense of agency within the community, and a greater cultural sensitivity policy. Watch the episode and hear the shocking stories of medical neglect by the guests, Vincent Flewellen, and moderator igho Ekakitie. Don’t miss this enlightening discussion on our replay.

Policing in the Black community is a highly charged, fast-changing landscape. What are the solutions to ongoing friction? What does justice look like? And what are the challenges facing Black law enforcement officers? Vincent C. Flewellen, Webster’s chief diversity officer, gets to the heart of the matter with Tyrone Dennis and Sgt. Donnell Walters on May 26, 2021.

Special Guests:

  • Tyrone Dennis, director of School Safety and Security, School District and retired Atlanta Police Gang and Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms detective
  • Sgt. Donnell Walters, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, Community Engagement and Recruiting Unit, and president of the Ethical Society of Police (ESOP)

Discrimination against Asian-Americans has always been a problem in the United States but hate crimes have spiked since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. How can we as a community come together and stand up against this new wave of discrimination? Vincent C. Flewellen, Webster’s chief diversity officer, sits down with Dewitt Campbell III, Mary Lai Preuss, and Yin Lam “Nicole” Lee-Johnson on Apr. 28, 2021.

Special Guests:

  • Dewitt Campbell III, MSW, program director, National Conference for Community and Justice of Metropolitan St. Louis (NCCJ St. Louis)
  • Mary Lai Preuss, PhD, associate professor and chair, Webster University Department of  Biological Sciences
  • Yin Lam “Nicole” Lee-Johnson, PhD, associate professor, Webster University Graduate Department of Education; director, Webster University EdD program; co-director, NPD Grant; and chair, Webster University Senate’s Multicultural Studies Committee

Where is higher education for Black students headed in 2021? How are HBCUs positioned to address the issues of racial reckoning on campuses in ways that are different from predominantly white institutions (PWIs)? Why are Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) receiving visible attention from the new administration and from several major donors? What pathways enlarge opportunities for Blacks to serve as college/university administrators? Originally broadcast on Mar. 24, 2021.

Special Guests:

  • Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis
  • Dr. Corey S. Bradford
  • Dr. Belinda S. Miles

What is it like to be Black and transgender today? The racial reckoning of 2020 served to amplify the Black Lives Matter movement, but trans people of color feel their voices are still not being heard. Join Vincent C. Flewellen, Webster's chief diversity officer, for a heartfelt sit-down with Black trans activists Gabrielle Souza and Jordan Braxton.

Special Guests:

  • Gabrielle Souza, BIPOC trans activist and diversity educator
  • Jordan Braxton, trans activist, diversity educator and popular St. Louis drag performer "Dieta Pepsi"

2020 has been tumultuous on many fronts. Racial inequalities reached multiple flashpoints amidst a pandemic and political upheaval. How can we come together when so much still divides us? In the final Webster Speaks episode of 2020, we asked some previous guests to reflect on the year and look ahead to 2021 with host Vincent C. Flewellen, Webster’s Chief Diversity Officer.

Special Guests:

  • Donald M. Suggs, publisher of The St. Louis American
  • Michael McMillan, president and CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis
  • Jameca Woody Cooper, PhD, MA, counseling psychologist and Webster faculty member
  • Carol Daniel, KMOX news anchor and Webster adjunct faculty member
  • Brennae Jackson, Webster student and Suggs Scholar
  • Alisha Sonnier, Ferguson activist, mental health advocate and co-founder of the BlackTea podcast
  • Cbabi Bayoc, artist and activist
  • Hannah Verity, 2019 Witnessing Whiteness participant and director of Webster’s Global Development office
  • Valerie Patton, VP of economic development and executive director of St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative and a leader of the new organization Greater St. Louis Inc.

Read episode recap.

How can workplaces build diversity at a time of shrinking workforces and racial divisions? The role of the chief diversity officer (CDO) and diversity and inclusion (DEI) has never been more important. In this episode, Vincent C. Flewellen talks with four professional colleagues, Angela Cody, Desiree Coleman, Clinton Normore, and Valerie Patton, on Dec. 2, 2020.

Special Guests:

  • Angela Cody, CDE, director, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals; leader, St. Louis Diversity & Inclusion Consortium
  • Desiree S. Coleman, MPA, diversity and inclusion executive, Fortune 50 company; founder of the women’s empowerment group, The Queen Within
  • Clinton Normore, MBA, vice president of diversity and inclusion, A.T. Still University in Mesa, Arizona
  • Valerie Patton, MA, MSW, senior vice president of inclusion and workforce development strategies; executive director, St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative

Read a recap of this episode.

What role should white people take in advocating for racial and social justice? How does one go from being nonracist to antiracist? Vincent C. Flewellen discussed this with four white St. Louis social justice activists on Nov. 11, 2020

Special Guests:

  • Rev. Wendy Bruner, pastor, Peace United Church of Christ, Webster Groves, Missouri
  • Rob Good, a UMSL adjunct assistant professor and member, Witnessing Whiteness facilitation team
  • Jackson Hotaling, volunteer, Faith for the Sake of All
  • Hannah Verity, Witnessing Whiteness 2019 participant and director, Webster University Office of Global Program Development

Activism and the arts have long been interwoven into the fabric of the Black experience in America. Artists continue harnessing their talents as a form of activism as well as self-expression during this time of racial reflection. Vincent C. Flewellen, Webster’s chief diversity officer, sat down with two St. Louis artists on Oct. 28, 2020.

Special Guests:

  • Cbabi Bayoc, internationally known visual artist and illustrator who celebrates family, children, music and more in signature bold, joyful colors
  • Dail Chambers, award-winning multimedia artist, Reiki master and community educator

Read an episode recap.

How do companies make diversity a meaningful core value? What is the best way to recruit and retain diverse talent? Vincent C. Flewellen, Webster’s chief diversity officer, discussed these topics with corporate leaders and Webster trustees on Oct. 14, 2020.

Special Guests:

  • Marvin Anderson, senior vice president and private client advisor at Bank of America
  • Mark Darrell, senior vice president and chief legal and compliance officer at Spire Inc.
  • Jovita Foster, vice president and general counsel at Drury Hotels
  • Atul Sharma, chief human resources officer at EthosEnergy
  • Sumit Verma, senior vice president, Commercial Manufacturing, at Iovance Biotherapeutics, Inc.

Episode recap available to read.

Resources related to this episode:

The 2014 Ferguson protests united bodies and voices against racism and ignited a movement that continues across the world. Vincent C. Flewellen, Webster University Chief Diversity Officer hosted “The Power of Street Activism,” the seventh episode of Webster Speaks, where he talked on Sept. 30, 2020,with three organizers of the 2014 Ferguson protests

Special Guests:

  • Alexis Templeton, co-founder, Millennial Activists United
  • Tory Russell, mission director, International Black Freedom Alliance
  • Alisha Sonnier, president, activist group Tribe X

What is it like to grow up in an age of racial reckoning? Host Vincent C. Flewellen sat down with a panel of Webster University Suggs Scholars on Sept. 16, 2020. These academically talented undergraduates of color are recipients of a scholarship named after Donald M. Suggs, publisher of the St. Louis American newspaper. They talk about what it’s like to be a Black collegian today, the many avenues to activism, and their plans for the future.

Special Guests: Webster University Suggs Scholars — Student Panel

  • Jovan McBride, Webster University student, human resources management and leadership major
  • Jalen McBride, Webster University student, management information systems major
  • Tekoa Bell, Webster University student, political science major
  • Brennae' Jackson, Webster University student, secondary English education and Spanish major

Episode recap

Jackie Joyner-Kersee is considered one of the greatest female athletes of all time and one of the greatest philanthropists in the St. Louis metro region. The Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation creates a haven and learning-rich environment for young people in her hometown of East St. Louis, Illinois. In this Sept. 2, 2020, episode, she discussed Black athletes and different paths of activism with Vincent C. Flewellen, Webster’s chief diversity officer.

Special Guest:

  • Jackie Joyner-Kersee, six-time Olympic medalist and founder, Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation

Read the episode recap.

Are the media portraying protests against police brutality fairly? Are Black voices being amplified in news and entertainment? Carol Daniel and Eric Deggans discussed this important topic on this Aug. 19, 2020, episode of WebsterSpeaks.

Special Guests:

  • Carol Daniel, KMOX news anchor, columnist and author
  • Eric Deggans, NPR TV critic and author of “Race Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation”

Read the episode recap.

From racial profiling to police brutality and lack of opportunities, institutional racism is impacting the mental health of African Americans. Counseling psychologist and Webster faculty member Jameca Woody Cooper, PhD, MA, sat down with Webster Chief Diversity Officer Vincent C. Flewellen to discuss "Racism and Mental Health" on Aug. 5, 2020.

Special Guest:

  • Jameca Woody Cooper, PhD, MA, counseling psychologist and Webster faculty member

Read the episode recap.

Resources related to this episode:

The Hon. Ella Jones, the first Black and first female mayor of Ferguson, discussed her city as a symbol of both injustice and hope, and Michael McMillan, president and CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, talked about the Urban League’s local programs and progress in bridging St. Louis’ racial divide in this Jul. 22, 2020, episode.

Special Guests: Hon. Ella Jones and Michael P. McMillan

  • Hon. Ella Jones, the first Black and first female mayor of Ferguson, Missouri
  • Michael McMillan, president and CEO, Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis

Read the episode recap.

The first episode, “What is the Meaning of Freedom Right Now?”, was recorded on Jul. 8, 2020, following the Fourth of July holiday. Flewellen interviewed Dr. Donald M. Suggs, publisher and executive editor of The St. Louis American, Missouri’s largest weekly newspaper and a leading voice of the region’s African American community since 1928.

Special Guest:

  • Dr. Donald M. Suggs, publisher  and executive editor of The St. Louis American

Read the episode recap.

Guest spotlight quote
Guest Spotlight

“Empower yourself with knowledge and understand how we got into this position and why we’re still fighting.”

Guest spotlight quote
Jackie Joyner-Kersee


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