Blackburn hosts annual symposium Aug. 27-28

Zach Johnson | @ZachJohnsonCW, News Editor

The Blackburn Institute will host former Senator Doug Jones, MacArthur Grant recipient Catherine Coleman Flowers and the former head of the West Point history department, retired Brig. Gen. Ty Seidule, as part of its annual symposium this weekend.

Events are scheduled on Friday from 1:45 to 4:15 p.m. and on Saturday from 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The symposium is open to all members of the UA community.  

On Saturday morning, Jones and Seidule will highlight issues of monuments and public memory, including the naming of military bases after Confederate officers. A public Q&A session will follow. 

That afternoon, Flowers will give the Frank Nix Memorial Lecture. Flowers is an environmental justice advocate and serves as rural development manager for the Equal Justice Initiative. She is also a member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council. 

The events are part of the Blackburn Institute’s annual symposium, a two-day event on Friday and Saturday with a theme of “The Next Normal: Dynamic Leadership in Changing Times.” 

“My hope is that the old and new Blackburn student classes take this time to connect with one another after a hard year of mostly online contact,” Blackburn Chairperson Mary Eliza Beaumont said in an email. “Furthermore, I hope that the students take away from this event the importance of The Blackburn Institute’s core values: diversity of opinion, inclusion, and respectful civil discourse.”

The Institute was created by and is overseen by the Division of Student Affairs. In 1995, the organization held its first event, the inaugural winter symposium. In 2019, the symposium hosted such names as Representative John Lewis and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. 

“In addition to our values, I want the non-Blackburn students to take away from this symposium that The Blackburn Institute is focused on facilitating a lifelong commitment to real change in the state of Alabama,” Beaumont said.  

This story was updated on Aug. 26 to correct an inaccurate date for the Annual Symposium.