Scholar to discuss Emory U's focus on slavery reckoning, dispossession

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Scholar to discuss Emory U’s focus on slavery reckoning, dispossession

Cooper in portrait
Yolanda Cooper, vice provost and Lindseth Family University librarian, at Case Western Reserve University is the University Libraries Visiting Scholar for 2022.

The University Libraries 2022 Visiting Scholar, Yolanda Cooper, vice provost and Lindseth Family University librarian at Case Western Reserve University, will talk about her work as co-chair of the Task Force on Untold Stories and Disenfranchised Populations at Emory University in a virtual fireside chat with Claire Stewart, dean of University Libraries, at 2 p.m. April 15.

The main topics of discussion will be Cooper’s work on Emory’s reckoning with slavery and dispossession, including her leadership of the task force and developing a symposium. The program includes the conversation with Stewart and a question and answer session moderated by Charlene Maxey-Harris, associate dean of University Libraries.

The event is free and open to the campus, but registration is required.

The Task Force on Untold Stories and Disenfranchised Populations at Emory University was one of two presidential advisory committees. According to the executive summary of the final report, the group’s charge was to “review opportunities for recognizing and memorializing the contributions made to the university by enslaved persons whose labor helped build the Emory campus, and their descendants, as well as the Indigenous nations and peoples on whose lands Emory’s campus was erected.”

The task force was subdivided into four working groups that corresponded to its charge:

  • Honoring the labor of enslaved people.

  • Defining criteria for a descendants’ scholarship.

  • Acknowledging the contributions of Indigenous peoples.

  • Developing educational and experiential opportunities.

Kiyomi Deards, a member of the Libraries Faculty Academic Activities committee, said that they selected Cooper as visiting scholar because of the Libraries’ own work on inclusive excellence and diversity, equity and inclusion and the inspiration that Cooper can provide through her experience and leadership of the Emory University task force.

“Yolanda Cooper’s story was unique and inspiring and the leadership of this task force was a different type of project than we have learned about in the past,” Deards said. “We are looking forward to this conversation and program.”

Prior to her appointment as vice provost, Cooper was the dean and university librarian at Emory University, where she provided leadership and direction for the Emory Libraries including the Robert W. Woodruff Library, the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library, the Woodruff Health Sciences Center Library, the Goizueta Business Library, Academic Technology, and the Library Service Center, a facility operated in collaboration with Georgia Institute of Technology. Her responsibilities focused on articulating ways in which library services, digital scholarship and informational technology can better support Emory’s mission and vision; implementing annual operational plans for Emory Libraries; chairing the Libraries Cabinet; and working with key library governance groups. She was also deeply engaged in campus DEI efforts at the university, which resulted in chairing a Task Force on Untold Stories and Disenfranchised Populations and developing a two-day hybrid symposium on Slavery and Dispossession.

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