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Breaking Barriers: A Panel Discussion on Racial Justice


The elevation of Barack Obama to the highest office in the United States in 2008 was a watershed moment in this country’s history. That an African-American was elected president of a country with a checkered history of race relations suggested to many that we were on the cusp of a “post-racial” society in which the aspirations of the Civil Rights movement would finally be met and “colorblindness” would become the norm. Sadly, the tragic events in Ferguson, Baltimore, Cleveland, Chicago, and a host of other cities, as well as student protests at the University of Missouri, Yale University, Arizona State University, and other campuses across the country have served to show that race and racial issues continue to divide a great many American citizens.

This panel discussion will provide participants with the opportunity to engage in dialogue on the significance of race and racial justice and to address ways in which individuals and groups can work together to overcome persistent biases and barriers to understanding.



Anita Allen, PhD

 Anita Allen, PhD

Vice-Provost for Faculty and Professor of Law and Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania

Anita L. Allen is an expert on privacy law, the philosophy of privacy, bioethics, and contemporary values, and is recognized for scholarship about legal philosophy, women’s rights, and race relations. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School and received her PhD in Philosophy from the University of Michigan. She was the first African American woman to hold both a PhD in philosophy and a law degree. At Penn, she is the vice provost for faculty and the Henry R. Silverman Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy.



 Elizabeth Linehan, RSMElizabeth Linehan, RSM

Associate Professor of Philosophy at St. Joseph’s University

Elizabeth Linehan is a Sister of Mercy of the South Central Community. Since 1976, Betsy has taught at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, PA. Having chaired the philosophy department for fifteen years, she is currently an associate professor of philosophy and co-chair of the Alliance, a committee that promotes welcome and inclusion of GLBT members of the SJU community. For this work, she received the Deo Gratias Award from Dignity/Philadelphia.




HarrellJ. Jondhi Harrell 

Founder and Executive Director ofThe Center for Returning Citizens

J. Jondhi Harrell is the Founder and Executive Director of The Center for Returning Citizens (TCRC) in Philadelphia. TCRC offers comprehensive services for prisoners and formerly incarcerated people in the areas of re-entry, pre-entry, and advocacy. He plays a leadership role in numerous organizations, including the National Committee of Alternatives to Violence Re-Entry Program, the Formerly Incarcerated and Families Working Group of Decarcerate PA, the Coalition against Mass Incarceration (CAMI Philly), the Re-Entry Coalition of Philadelphia and the Quaker Network to End Mass Incarceration. Jondhi is co-founder of the Transitional Services Coalition and the BLOC Party (Build Lobby Organize Campaign), the movement to forge returning citizens of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania into a cultural, social, political, and economic coalition. He is a frequent guest lecturer on the topics of Mass Incarceration, Social Injustice, The New Underground Railroad, and Re-building Black America at universities, colleges, churches, organizations and community events. Jondhi has a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Service Management from the University of Phoenix and is a Master’s in Social Work candidate at Temple University. He is also a 2016 Fellow at Just Leadership USA, a nonprofit organization dedicated to driving incarceration policy reform.


YundellMichael Yudell, PhD, MPH 

Associate Professor and Chair Dornsife School of Public Health, Drexel University

Michael Yudell is currently Chair and Associate Professor in the Dornsife School of Public Health Department of Community Health and Prevention at Drexel University. He is also Director of the Program in Public Health Ethics and History at the Dornsife School of Public Health. Yudell received his PhD and MPH from Columbia University and his BA from Tufts. He is the author Race Unmasked: Biology and Race in the 20th Century (Columbia University Press, 2014), a history that examines the way biologists, especially geneticists, shaped the race concept during the 20th century from eugenics to the sequencing of the human genome. Professor Yudell also writes the blog "The Public's Health" for the Philadelphia Inquirer.