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Organisers are thrilled to welcome John as one of the keynote speakers in an extensive list of guests who will join with University of Chester academics and students for the free, online event.

Running from Monday March 1 to Friday March 12, this year’s theme reflects both the important and current focus on race equality and also the need to achieve equality in relation to other protected characteristics, which include disability, age, gender, sexual orientation and religion.

John will talk about how the death of George Floyd and the subsequent Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement changed views toward race and racism in the UK. While BLM awareness surged in the summer of 2020, John will talk about how this momentum can be maintained and how we can all be part of the continual effort to deconstruct racism in the UK.

The virtual Festival line-up of 45 sessions also includes:

  • Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the CIPD (Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development), who will launch the event in collaboration with Chester Business School.
  • Joeli Brearley who has recently published Pregnant Then Screwed: The Truth About the Motherhood Penalty, and whose talk is held in partnership with the Parents’ Network.
  • Laura Bates, author and creator of the #Everyday Sexism project, which catalogues instances of sexism experienced on a day-to-day basis, who will be in conversation with Professor Emma Rees, Director of the University’s Institute of Gender Studies.
  • Tom Walker, a visually impaired freelance BBC Reporter and Media Relations Manager, discussing, in collaboration with the Disabled Staff Group, the race for equality in employment.
  • Professor Sue Black OBE, award-winning Computer Scientist, Technology Evangelist and Digital Skills Expert, a presentation in collaboration with the Faculty of Science and Engineering.
  • The University’s Student Race Advocates.

Brought to wide attention recently through Marcus Rashford’s campaign, workshops with The Poverty Truth Team from Cheshire West and Chester Council will also look at awareness and understanding of the issues young people face, caused by poverty.

In addition, the Festival will feature its annual International Women’s Day event, with the Institute of Gender Studies. Leading the Race for Equality will showcase a range of inspirational leaders, sharing their stories and tips for success, including Baroness Valerie Amos, Master of University College Oxford.

Baroness Amos was appointed a Labour life peer in 1997 and was the first black woman to serve in a British Cabinet, as Secretary of State for International Development. She went on to become Leader of the House of Lords and has consistently sustained an interest in, and commitment to, issues of equality and social justice. 

Kathryn Leighton, HR Manager for Development and Diversity at the University of Chester said: “This is our most exciting Festival yet and we’re honoured to have so many amazing people taking part to talk on the race for equality.

“The Festival provides a focus through which the University actively promotes, challenges and develops an understanding of equality, diversity and multiculturalism, and the events are open to all.

“We look forward to welcoming people to the 45 free sessions on a range of fascinating topics across the theme, during the 10 days.”

Professor Eunice Simmons, Vice Chancellor of the University of Chester added: “The Diversity Festival is a highlight of our events calendar and places the spotlight on a subject which is extremely important to us.

“The University is committed to the promotion of diversity and equality and the elimination of discrimination in all its forms. This event raises awareness of the issues that need to be addressed in our society and ways we can achieve greater equality of opportunity.

“Do join us for these inspirational and stimulating sessions - and help keep the discussion going.”

For further information on the Festival, all of the sessions and to book places please visit:

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