Compelling Conversations

About Compelling Conversations

To engage and inspire students, faculty, staff, and our community, Bunker Hill Community College’s Compelling Conversations Speaker Series invites today’s diverse voices, eminent thought leaders, and visionaries from both domestic and international platforms to share local, national, and global perspectives on contemporary and culturally relevant issues of human interest, social justice, and change.

Sponsored by the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, this series of speakers is intended to support meaningful discussion inside and outside the classroom as part of an ongoing college-wide commitment of equity and cultural wealth, resistance, and resilience. 

The 2023-2024 series celebrates those who have used the power of their voices to make dynamic changes in our world, especially regarding issues of race and gender justice, systemic inequity locally and globally, a family history of activism, advocacy for telling untold stories, and civil, immigrant, and LGBTQIA rights.

Emmy Winning Co-Host of The Real, Acclaimed Vocalist, Producer & Entrepreneur

November 17 at 1 p.m., Charlestown A300

Adrienne BailonAdrienne Bailon-Houghton is a Daytime Emmy® award-winning television host, acclaimed pop-vocalist, lifestyle personality, producer and founder of the faith-based jewelry brand, XIXI. Houghton co-hosted the The Real, a one-hour, daily talk show on Fox Television Stations from 2013-2022, and made Houghton the first Latina daytime talk show host on English language television. Throughout its eight seasons, Houghton offered the show’s engaged audience fresh points of view, youthful energy and passion. Along with her bold, diverse and outspoken co-hosts, Houghton won a 2018 Daytime Emmy® Award as “Outstanding Entertainment Talk Show Host” and a 2018 NAACP Image Award for “Outstanding Talk Series.”

Adrienne Bailon-Houghton es una presentadora de televisión galardonada con un premio Daytime Emmy, aclamada vocalista pop, influyente personalidad de estilo de vida, productora y creadora de la línea de joyería inspirada en la fe, XIX. Houghton fue la co-presentadora de The Real, un programa de tertulia diario en Fox Television de 2013 a 2022, lo cual convirtió a Houghton en la primera Latina en conducir en inglés un programa de tertulia televisiva. A lo largo de sus ocho temporadas, Houghton ofreció a su fiel audiencia sus puntos de vista innovadores, su juvenil energía y su pasión. Junto con sus valientes, diversos y honestos co-presentadores, Houghton ganó en 2018 un Daytime Emmy Award como “Mejor Presentadora de Talk Show” y, también en 2018, un NAACP Image Award por “Mejor Talk Series.”

‌Acclaimed award-winning actress and humanitarianAmerica Ferrera

Thursday, February 16, 2012

America Ferrera is best known for her portrayal of Betty Suarez in the hit comedy Ugly Betty.  Her role in this TV show landed her some of the highest accolades in the entertainment industry: an Emmy, a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award, as well as ALMA and Imagen awards.

Her starring role in Real Women Have Curves resulted in numerous other honors, including a Sundance Jury Award for best actress. Ferrera both starred in and was executive producer of The Dry Land, the story of a soldier returning home to Texas after the war in Iraq, which won the award for Best International Film at the 2010 Edinburgh Film Festival.

Ferrera has worked with a number of humanitarian organizations, including Save The Children, to promote education for children in need. For her commitment to educating youth in Mali, she received the 2011 Global Action Award for Childhood Development and Education.‌

‌Political Essayist, Social Critic and AuthorBarbara Ehrenreich

Thursday, February 9, 2006

Ms. Ehrenreich spent two years working as a waitress, maid and Wal-Mart clerk to see how America’s working poor get by. She found a lot of them don’t. A feminist, political essayist and social critic who tackles a range of issues in her writing, she is the author or co-author of thirteen books including New York Times best sellers Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America and Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream. Ms. Ehrenreich is also a contributing writer to dozens of magazines, including Ms., Harper’s, The Nation, The Progressive, The New Republic, The Atlantic Monthly and The New York Times Magazine. 

Bernice A. King  |  Minister, Attorney and Daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

November 3, 2022, 1 p.m. (on campus) Bernice King

Dr. Bernice A. King is a global thought leader, strategist, solutionist, orator, peace advocate, and CEO of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center For Nonviolent Social Change (The King Center), which was founded by her mother as the official living memorial to the life, work, and legacy of her father. In this position, Bernice continues to advance her parents’ legacy of nonviolent social change through policy, advocacy, research, as well as education & training through the Kingian philosophy of nonviolence, which she re-branded Nonviolence365™️ (NV365).

Through her work at The King Center, she educates youth and adults around the world about the nonviolent principles and strategies modeled by her parents. Under her leadership, the Center has implemented numerous initiatives reaching over 500,000 people around the world, including the Beloved Community Leadership Academy, Students with King, NV365 Education & Training, and The Beloved Community Talks, a courageous conversations platform about the difficult racial and social justice issues impacting our world. Dr. King led the development of an NV365 certification program for trainers, which provides individuals with the opportunity to teach the NV365 curriculum on behalf of The King Center. She is an instructor for the program and a trainer.

Actor, Author and Activist BD Wong

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Winner of a Tony-Award for his Broadway debut in M. Butterfly, Wong is best known for television roles such as forensic psychiatrist Dr. George Huang on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. Wong is also the author of Following Foo, a memoir about the birth of his son. His experiences in an industry fraught with rejection, stereotyping and racism have given him sharp perspectives on the subject of diversity. An advocate for the LGBTQ community, Wong will address issues such as racial self-image, Asian-American parental pressure and the "model minority myth," and the challenges of multiple identities. 

Bob WoodwardBob Woodward

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Bob Woodward is the author or co-author of eleven best-selling non-fiction books. His latest book, published in September 2008, is “The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006 – 2008.”  



Co-anchor of ABC's NightlineA picture of Byron Pitts
Former World Champion Boxer

‌Thursday, February 18, 2016

Known for thought-provoking news coverage and exceptional storytelling, Byron Pitts is the winner of several Emmy Awards. Currently co-anchor of ABC’s Nightline, he has also served as chief national correspondent for CBS Evening News and a regular contributor to 60 Minutes.

As he recounts in his 2009 memoir, Step Out On Nothing: How Family and Faith Helped Me Conquer Life’s Challenges, Pitts was illiterate until the age of 12 and struggled with a profound speech impediment. With the help of a few key people, he overcame these difficulties and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in journalism and speech communication. 

Cleve Jones  |  LGBTQ+ Rights Trailblazer and Best-Selling Author

December 1, 2022, 6 p.m. (virtual) Cleve Jones

For 50 years, Cleve Jones has given a voice to the voiceless, organized the struggling and disenfranchised, and inspired activists and audiences alike with his life stories of driving history-making change. He was recognized as a Champion of Change by President Obama and portrayed in an Oscar-winning film. His acclaimed keynotes connect the historic struggles of the past with the most urgent issues of our time: overcoming pandemics, achieving economic justice, protecting the vulnerable, and standing up for all forms of human rights. A passionate speaker with a powerful story, Jones is now speaking out for all who struggle for equality and fair treatment. He brings both historical perspective and storytelling talent to timely discussions of diversity, intersectionality, civil and human rights and the stunning parallels between the HIV and COVID-19 pandemics. Jones currently works as a community organizer for UNITE HERE, the international union representing hotel, casino, food service and restaurant workers. He came to labor activism already a hero in the struggle for gay, lesbian and transgender rights, and a fearless champion for those living with HIV. Jones has been a driving force behind the most important gains made by the LGBTQ+ community over the last five decades. From his early days in the “gay liberation” movement with Harvey Milk to co-founding the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, founding the AIDS Memorial Quilt and fighting for marriage equality, Jones has made history as part of one of the most effective human rights movements of all time. He was portrayed by Emile Hirsch in the Oscar-winning film Milk, for which he served as a historical consultant. Jones was also prominently featured in the critically acclaimed miniseries When We Rise, which was inspired by his award-winning 2016 memoir of the same title. Now considered one of the elder statesmen of human rights activism, Jones came to advocacy through his own struggle as a gay man born in the mid 1950s. As a teen runaway, he was drawn to the progressive life and politics and of San Francisco in the early 1970s. It was there that he met Harvey Milk, the nation’s most outspoken gay elected official. Jones worked in Milk’s City Hall office as an intern until Milk’s assassination in 1978. With the onset of the AIDS epidemic, Jones rose up to organize the gay community and raise awareness, co-founding the San Francisco AIDS Foundation (SAF) in 1983. Unlike the movements of today which rely heavily on digital marketing and social media, Jones grew the SAF into one of the largest and most influential advocacy organizations of its kind through grass roots efforts.

An Evening with Martin and Langston‌ Danny Glover and Felix Justice

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Critically acclaimed actors Danny Glover and Felix Justice illuminate the worlds of the famed orator and activist, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the celebrated poet and novelist, Langston Hughes. The evening begins with Justice’s powerful portrayal of Dr. King through the words of his most memorable speeches. Glover will then bring to life the writing and poetry of Langston Hughes. The evening concludes with these activists discussing the importance of the arts in education and the intersections of art, culture and social responsibility. Justice has been presenting the works of Dr. King since the 1980s. Glover has starred in blockbusters such as The Color Purple and the Lethal Weapon series. 

Chef, On-air Talent and Food Stylist on America’s Test Kitchen, Activist and EntrepreneurA picture of Elle Simone Scott

Thursday, February 20, 2020 

Elle Simone Scott is a culinary maverick. Always drawn to creative food culture, Scott has been dazzling the culinary world since 2003, quickly becoming a highly sought after food stylist and culinary producer. She has collaborated and contributed her unique styling abilities most recently to America’s Test Kitchen, the Food Network, Food Network Magazine, the Cooking Channel, CBS, ABC’s The Chew and Bravo. Her specialties don’t stop with styling and production. As the founder & CEO of SheChef Inc., a professional networking organization for women chefs of color and allies, Scott shares her passion by mentoring, resource building, business development and most importantly, Food Justice. She continues to inspire others and break glass ceilings, as the first African-American woman resident food stylist and on-air talent on PBS’s America’s Test Kitchen.

‌Activist and JournalistFelipe Luciano

Thursday, October 21, 2004

From the late 1960s, when he was founder and chairman of the Young Lords Party, often described as a Puerto Rican equivalent of the Black Panthers, Felipe Luciano has been on the cutting edge of community empowerment and ethnic pride. Now Luciano frequently serves as an adviser to state and local government leaders as well as to corporations. He is the winner of two Emmys and an ACE award for his television work. He is also a successful print and radio journalist as well as a member of the Original Last Poets and a noted authority on Latin music.

‌Author and Professor, Howard University School of LawFrank H. Wu

Tuesday, December 7, 2004 

The host of PBS television’s syndicated series Asian America, Frank Wu is an attorney, professor and author of numerous articles and books including, Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White and Race, Rights and Reparation: Law and the Japanese-American Internment.

Currently on the faculty of the Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C., Wu is a past chair of the D.C. Human Rights Commission. He is also a frequent guest on such television programs as Oprah, Now with Bill Moyers, The O’Reilly Factor and Talk Back Live on CNN.

‌New York Times Op-Ed Columnist and Award-winning AuthorGail Collins

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Gail Collins originally joined the New York Times as a member of the editorial board and later became an Op-Ed columnist. In 2001, she became the first woman ever appointed editor of the Times’ editorial page. Before joining the Times, Collins was a columnist at New York Newsday and the New York Daily News. She also founded the Connecticut State News Bureau, which was the largest news service of its kind in the country until its sale in the late 1970s. Her best-selling books include: When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present, America’s Women, and Scorpion Tongues: Gossip, Celebrity & American Politics.

Award-winning ActorGiancarlo Esposito

Thursday, October 16, 2014, 1:00 p.m. 

Giancarlo Esposito is a television, film and stage actor. Television audiences know him from his current portrayal of Tom Neville on NBC’s Revolution, and from his iconic role as Gustavo “Gus” Fring in AMC’s series Breaking Bad, for which he earned a Critics Choice Award and an Emmy nomination. Roles in more than 60 films, including Do the Right Thing, Ali and The Usual Suspects, have earned Esposito a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He will address issues faced by people of color in the entertainment industry, and will talk about embracing his bi-racial background as an integral part of his acting identity.

‌Award—winning AuthorGish Jen

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Award-winning author Gish Jen’s most recent book, The Love Wife, explores the realities of mixed-heritage families. Her other novels include Typical American, Who’s Irish? and Mona in the Promised Land, which explore ethnic identity and cultural diversity while updating the American Dream. Ms. Jen has also written for the Atlantic Monthly, the New Yorker, the New Republic, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, and is featured in the upcoming PBS Masterworks series, The American Novel. She has been awarded fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Bunting Institute at Radcliffe, the Fulbright Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Former EPA Administrator and Director of the Center for Climate Health and the GlobalA pictuee of Gina McCarthy Environment and Professor at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Gina McCarthy has dedicated her 35-year career in public service to environmental protection and public health. Her leadership and perseverance has led to federal, state, and local actions on critical environmental issues. McCarthy’s significant accomplishments include action to advance environmental, clean energy, public transportation and public health goals consistent with a growing economy in New England and across the United States. 

‌Journalist and AuthorGloria Steinem

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Gloria Steinem, a renowned women’s rights activist, founded Ms. Magazine and the National Women’s Political Caucus. She is currently at work on “Road to the Heart: America As if Everyone Mattered,” a book about her more than thirty years on the road as a feminist organizer.



Public Policy Professor and News Analyst
Former Five-Term U.S. Congressman

Thursday, November 1, 2012Harold E. Ford, Jr.

Harold Ford, Jr., a Democrat, represented Tennessee’s Ninth District for 10 years in the United States Congress, where he served on the Financial Services and Budget committees. He later served as Chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council, and is now active with several nonprofits and foundations, serving on the boards of the Lincoln Center, America’s Promise and Weill Cornell Medical College.

Ford is a news analyst for NBC and a Professor of Public Policy at the New York University Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. Former president Bill Clinton called Ford "the walking, living embodiment of where America ought to go in the 21st century." Mr. Ford will speak about the Presidential and Congressional elections taking place just five days after his appearance at the College.

Grammy Award-winning Rapper and ActorIce-T photo

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Ice-T, who received a Grammy Award in 1991, launched his rap music career in the 1984 film Breakin’. He went on to become the genre’s original gangster, forming Rhyme Syndicate Records in 1989 and releasing a string of groundbreaking West Coast rap records. Ice-T subsequently formed the thrash metal band Body Count.

The film and television actor secured roles in New Jack City, Ricochet, Trespass and Johnny Mnemonic. He stars in NBC’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit as Detective Finn. In his 1994 book, The Ice Opinion, the artist airs his views on free speech and education, among other topics. Ice-T will speak about race in America and overcoming obstacles to success.

Ilyasah Shabazz  |  Daughter of Malcolm X, Professor & Author

April 20, 2023, 1 p.m.Ilyasah Shabazz

Ilyasah Shabazz is an award-winning author, educator and producer. She has authored five historical novels and has served as project advisor for the PBS award-winning film, Prince Among Slaves documentary. She is Co-Chairperson of the Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center. In her work to preserve the legacy of her parents, she has dedicated herself to institution building and intergenerational leadership development with the tenants of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Ms. Shabazz has furthered her community impact with the City University of New York’s Office of Academic Affairs, where she created curriculum to encourage higher education for underserved, inner-city high school dropouts. She has worked with the Office of the Mayor in Mount Vernon, as Director of Public Affairs & Special Events. She founded and produced a young adult development program. The purpose of the program was to provide insight on social justice—encouraging personal empowerment. As president and founder of Ilyasah Shabazz Enterprises, she produces a variety of forums dedicated to power, possibility and sovereignty. Grounded in the commitments of her parents, Ms. Shabazz emphasizes empowerment and inclusion in her teaching and scholarship.

Award-winning Rap Artist and Activist Isis Tha Savior aka Mary Enoch Elizabeth Baxter

Thursday, March 11, 2022 at 6 p.m.

With a stage name derived from the Egyptian goddess of motherhood, Philadelphia native Mary Baxter creates autobiographical works that are both deeply personal and speak to a universal fight for freedom, justice and equality. Her personal experience of surviving trauma and overcoming obstacles, including being a ward of the state, incarceration and giving birth while in prison, has not only shaped her life in art but given rise to a powerful voice advocating for healing in our communities.

Former First Lady of EgyptJehan Sadat

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Jehan Sadat was the first wife of a Muslim leader to have her photograph in the newspaper, to travel outside her country and to take up public causes. After the assassination of her husband, President Anwar Sadat, in 1981 by followers of Osama bin Laden, Mrs. Sadat continued her life-long work for world peace and the
emancipation of women. An internationally renowned speaker, holder of a doctorate from Cairo University and mother of four, Mrs. Sadat is also the author of a best-selling autobiography,
A Woman of Egypt.

Co-founder of Ben & Jerry's Homemade, Inc.Jerry Greenfield Compelling Conversation

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Jerry Greenfield and Ben Cohen opened Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream Parlor in Burlington, Vermont, in May 1978 and built it into a $300 million empire that reflects a remarkable commitment to social responsibility and creative management. Greenfield grew up on Long Island and attended Oberlin College.  With Cohen, he co-authored the best-seller Ben & Jerry’s Double-Dip: Lead with Your Values and Make Money. The two have won the Council on Economic Priorities Corporate Giving Award and have been honored as U.S. Small Business Persons of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

John Quiñones, Emmy Award-winning News Anchor and Host of ABC’s What Would You Do?John Quinones

‌Thursday, October 13, 2016 

Co-anchor of ABC’s Primetime and sole anchor of ABC’s What Would You Do? John Quiñones tells his compelling story of defying the odds, overcoming poverty, never taking “no” for an answer, and always doing the right thing.

A child of migrant farm workers, Quiñones grew up in the San Antonio barrio. He entered first grade unable to speak English. He now holds a master’s degree from the Columbia School of Journalism.

With a genuine understanding of the challenges of poverty, immigration and assimilation, Quiñones’ first-hand account of success in the face of adversity inspires audiences not only to believe in themselves, work hard in school and pursue their own dreams, but also to approach everyday situations with integrity.

Juju Chang  |  Emmy Award-Winning Co-Anchor of ABC’s Nightline

May 4, 2023, 1 p.m. in C202

Juju Chang

One of the most prominent Asian Americans in broadcast news, Juju Chang is the Emmy Award-winning co-anchor of ABC News Nightline and a regular contributor to Good Morning America and 20/20. With the rise of hate crimes against the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, Chang leveraged her platform to become a much-admired champion of social change. She made U.S. broadcast history co-anchoring the 2021 ABC News Live special, Stop The Hate: The Rise In Violence Against Asian Americans alongside fellow Korean-American co-anchor Eva Pilgrim and a cast of AAPI journalists, thought leaders, lawmakers and celebrities. Chang’s highly visible reporting on Asian Hate is the culmination of decades of covering everything from natural disasters to terrorism, mass shootings, immigration, violence against the LGBTQIA+ community and, most recently, the inequities of the COVID-19 pandemic. Known for her in-depth personal narratives and long-form storytelling, Chang has won acclaim for stories with underlying themes of civil and women’s rights and social justice. These include her critical examination of the controversial “Remain in Mexico” immigration policy, which she told through the eyes of one pregnant woman and her family living among the 60,000 asylum seekers camped for months along the Rio Grande. Her award-winning report, “Trans and Targeted” on violence against transgender women of color was the latest of a series of stories on the targeting of LGBTQIA+ Americans, including a GLAAD award-winning report on Matthew Shepard’s murder. Internationally, Chang has been a powerful voice on gender-based violence, including a trip through Central Africa on the front lines against Boko Haram and #bringbackourgirls. She also traveled to Honduras for “Femicide: the Untold War,” an eye-opening look at rampant violence against women.

Award-winning Poet, Author and Educator

Thursday, September 23 at 6 p.m.

José Olivarez

José Olivarez’s debut book of poems, Citizen Illegal (2018), won the 2018 Chicago Review of Books Poetry Prize and was a finalist for the PEN/Jean Stein Award. He is the co-author of Home Court (2014), and the co-host of the poetry podcast, The Poetry Gods. The son of Mexican immigrants, Olivarez earned a BA from Harvard University; he has received fellowships from CantoMundo, Poets House, the Bronx Council on the Arts, the Poetry Foundation and the Conversation Literary Festival. In 2019, he was awarded a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. His work has been featured in BreakBeat Poets, the Adroit Journal, the Rumpus, Hyperallergic, The Paris Review and elsewhere. He is a coeditor of BreakBeat Poets 4: LatiNEXT (Haymarket Books).

He is the 2021-2022 BHCC One Book Program author.

Jueves, 23 de septiembre 6 p.m.

El primer libro de poemas del laureado poeta, autor y educador José Olivarez, Citizen Illegal (2018), ganó el Chicago Review of Books Poetry Prize en 2018 y fue finalista para el PEN/Jean Stein Award. Es además coautor de Home Court (2014), y copresentador del podcast de poesía The Poetry Gods. Hijo de inmigrantes mexicanos, Olivarez terminó su BA en la Universidad de Harvard, ha recibido diversas becas de CantoMundo, Poets House, the Bronx Council on the Arts, the Poetry Foundation, y del Conversation Literary Festival. En 2019, se le concedió la Beca de Poesía Ruth Lilly y Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg de la Poetry Foundation. Su trabajo ha aparecido en BreakBeat Poets,l Adroit Journal, Rumpus, Hyperallergic, The Paris Review entre otros. Es coeditor de BreakBeat Poets 4: LatiNEXT (Haymarket Books).

Se encuentra como autor en el One Book Program de BHCC para 2021-2022. 

‌Author, Journalist and Political AnalystJuan Williams

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Senior Washington Post correspondent and contributing political analyst for Fox News, Juan Williams is the author of Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965. His current best seller, Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements and Culture of Failure that are Undermining Black America—and

What We Can Do about It, builds on Bill Cosby’s controversial comments about African-American responsibility. Williams argues that, while racism still exists, the time has come for black Americans to acknowledge and overcome the “culture of failure” that haunts their community.

Justin Shaifer | Award-winning STEM TV Host and Producer

March 28, 2024, 1 p.m.

Justin ShaiferJustin “Mr. Fascinate” Shaifer is an award-winning TV Host and Producer who is at the forefront of transforming science and tech education. Justin is a visionary leader in media, science and technology. He has produced and starred in creative concepts with major networks and companies like ABC, PBS Digital Studios, Chevy Bolt, NVIDIA, and more. As the founder of Fascinate Media, Justin is revolutionizing the way students learn by creating immersive educational experiences and content using 3D VFX, Virtual Production, and Generative AI. His goal is to become the ESPN of STEM, inspiring young people to embrace their inner nerd and pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math, regardless of their surroundings. Driven by his own life experience growing up in a single-parent home on the South Side of Chicago, Justin is dedicated to giving back to the community. 

“Islam: Misunderstood, Misrepresented and Maligned in the U.S.”Kareem Abdul-Jabbar headshot

‌Thursday, October 26, 2017

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is one of the most influential and respected black men in America, known for his eloquent and penetrating insights into controversial, contemporary issues. In 2016, Abdul-Jabbar was awarded The Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama. The former NBA champion is now a regular contributor to The Washington Post and Time Magazine, where he has a national platform to share his thoughts on the most socially relevant and politically sensitive topics facing our nation today. He addresses directly issues including race, religious intolerance and discrimination in “Islam: Misrepresented, Misunderstood and Vilified in the United States”.

Documentary FilmmakerKen Burns

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

As well known as baseball and apple pie for defining what is uniquely American, Ken Burns is regarded as a documentary filmmaker whose perspectives showcase our country and its history. Mr. Burns has been making films for more than 30 years.
He first garnered attention with the Academy Award-nominated Brooklyn Bridge in 1981, and has since gone on to make acclaimed historical documentaries including The Civil War; Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson; Horatio’s Drive: America’s First Road Trip; Jazz; and Baseball. His most recent epic, The War—firsthand accounts of how World War II impacted Americans in four towns—aired on PBS in September to rave reviews.

Constitutional Law Scholar and Anti-Discrimination Advocate

Thursday, May 5, 2022 at 6 p.m.

Kenji Yoshino

Kenji Yoshino is the Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Constitutional Law at NYU School of Law and the director of the Center for Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging. A graduate of Harvard (AB summa cum laude), Oxford (MSc as a Rhodes Scholar), and Yale (JD), he specializes in constitutional law, antidiscrimination law, and law and literature. He is the author of three books: Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights; A Thousand Times More Fair: What Shakespeare’s Plays Teach Us About Justice; and Speak Now: Marriage Equality on Trial. Yoshino has published in major academic journals, including the Harvard Law Review, the Stanford Law Review, and the Yale Law Journal, and won numerous awards for his scholarship and teaching, including the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award in 2016 and the Podell Distinguished Teaching Award in 2014.


Kevin Kreider | Mental Health & Recovery Advocate, Star of Netflix's Bling Empire, and Entrepreneur

May 2, 2024, 1 p.m.

Kevin KreiderBorn in Seoul, South Korea and adopted at the age of three to a German/Irish family in Philadelphia, Kevin Kreider grew up with a loving family. But he soon found out that the outside world is not as caring. By the time he was in kindergarten, Kevin was bullied, beaten up and made fun of for being Asian. That continued through the years and he began to believe the hateful things others were telling him: Asian men were not as attractive. They were effeminate, skinny and weak. Feeling he was not white enough, and yet, not Asian enough either, Kevin set out to carve his own unique path to redefine Asian masculinity. He began to work out and finally turned into the sex symbol he always wanted to be. He left Philadelphia in 2008 to navigate his way in entertainment as a Korean American adoptee. He was signed with one of the top modeling agencies in New York City. 

Singer-Songwriter, Recording Artist and Boston NativeKevinSo

Tuesday, April 28, 2020 

Kevin So has earned the respect of 4-time Grammy® award winner Keb’ Mo’, singer/activist Billy Bragg and Tony Award winning playwright David Henry Hwang, and has built a loyal fan base around the world for the past 20 years. He has performed recently at The Wiltern Theater, as well as Carnegie Hall and The Ryman in Nashville. So was also recipient of the 2007 NYC Fringe Festival Award (Best Music & Lyrics) for “Great Wall”—a semi-autobiographical musical. His songs have been recorded by India Arie (“Crush On You”), Keb’ Mo’ (“Talk”), and Shemekia Copeland (“Sounds Like The Devil”). He is blues, folk and soul in its finest blend.

‌Wellness Advocate and Former World Champion BoxerLaila Ali (large)

Thursday, February 28, 2013 

Laila Ali is a wellness advocate, a celebrated athlete and an entrepreneur. She was undefeated during her seven years as a boxer, capturing four championship belts. Ali is president of the Women’s Sports Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes equality for women in professional sports. Ali also hosts the ABC-TV show “Everyday Health.”

She graduated from Santa Monica College with a degree in business management. Ali was named the 2012 “Mombassador” for the Aquaphor New York City Triathlon, a competition she completed in an impressive three hours and six minutes. In 2012, she made history as the first female analyst to provide commentary for NBC/CNBC on women’s boxing in the Olympics. Ali has co-authored a motivational book for young women titled Reach! Finding Strength, Spirit and Personal Power. Ali’s father is legendary fighter Muhammad Ali.

Tuesday, October 5, 2022 Larry Spotted Crow Mann

Larry Spotted Crow Mann is an author, musician, and citizen of the Nipmuc Tribe of Massachusetts. An award-winning writer, poet, cultural educator, traditional storyteller, tribal drummer/dancer, and motivational speaker, he travels throughout the United States, Canada, and parts of Europe to schools, colleges, pow wows, and other organizations sharing the music, culture, and history of Nipmuc people. He has lectured at universities throughout New England on issues ranging from Native American sovereignty to identity. Mann is co-director of the Ohketeau Cultural Center, founder of the Native Youth Empowerment Foundation, and a former board member of Nipmuc Cultural Preservation, which promotes the cultural, social, and spiritual needs of Nipmuc people. Mann serves as a review committee member, at the Native American Poets Project at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology. His books include Tales from the Whispering Basket, The Mourning Road to Thanksgiving, and Drumming & Dreaming, a collection of Nipmuc legends shared through the Voice of Crow and Bear. He is the 2021-2022 BHCC Distinguished Artist Scholar in Residence.

Actress and Advocate for DeafMarlee Matlin

Thursday, February 27, 2014

 Winner of an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for Best Actress, and author of I’ll Scream Later and Deaf Child Crossing, Marlee Matlin will speak about the journey of her life: from the frightening loss of her hearing at 18 months to the heights and depths of Hollywood, her battles with addiction, and the unexpected challenges of becoming an emissary for the deaf community. Matlin is known for her starring role in the film Children of a Lesser God and numerous TV appearances, including recurring roles on The West WingThe L WordReasonable Doubts and Switched at Birth.


‌Journalist, author and co-founder of the Daniel Pearl FoundationMariane Pearl

Thursday, February 21, 2008 

Mariane Pearl, an award-winning journalist, travels the world producing documentaries on genetic technology, immigration and identity issues. She hosts a daily program for Radio France Internationale. She is also a reporter and columnist for Glamour magazine. In 2002, Ms. Pearl was five months pregnant when her husband Daniel Pearl, South Asian bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal, was kidnapped and brutally murdered by terrorists in Pakistan. Determined not to be broken, Mariane co-founded the Daniel Pearl Foundation to promote cross-cultural understanding, and wrote A Mighty Heart: The Brave Life and Death of My Husband Daniel Pearl, which was turned into a film starring Angelina Jolie.

‌Scholar, Author and Civil Rights ActivistMary Frances Berry

Thursday, March 1, 2007

The recipient of 32 honorary doctoral degrees recognizing her scholarship and public service, Mary Frances Berry teaches social thought and history at the University of Pennsylvania. From 1980 to 2004 she served on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. When President Reagan attempted to remove her, she went to court to keep her seat—and won. President Clinton elevated her to Chair. Her many books include The Politics of Parenthood: Child Care, Women’s Rights, and the Myth of the Good Mother and Black Resistance, White Law explore race and gender in legal history.

‌Former President of Ireland and Former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Tuesday, March 15, 2005Mary Robinson

Mary Bourke Robinson is the first woman ever to become President of Ireland, and more recently she served as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
While a young barrister working in Dublin, Robinson won a number of landmark legal cases, many involving women’s rights. As a member of the Irish Senate, she campaigned to make birth control legal and to decriminalize homosexuality. She currently leads the Ethical Globalization Initiative, which works to promote human rights in the globalization process.

A Compelling Conversation with Matthew DesmondA picture of Matthew Desmond

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Sociologist Matthew Desmond is the author of New York Times bestseller and winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City. In 2015, Desmond was awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant for “revealing the impact of eviction on the lives of the urban poor and its role in perpetuating racial and economic inequality.” His landmark work Evicted tells the stories of eight families living on the edge and the landlords who control their fate. Desmond will transform our understanding of extreme poverty and economic exploitation (unfair or inadequate pay for work) while providing fresh ideas for solving one of the most urgent issues facing America today - housing insecurity.

“If incarceration had come to define the lives of men from impoverished black neighborhoods, eviction was shaping the lives of womenPoor black men were locked up. Poor black women were locked out.”

― Matthew Desmond, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

Follow Matthew Desmond on Twitter: @Just_Shelter

Academy Award-winning filmmaker,best-selling author and political commentatorMichael Moore

Thursday, September 15, 2011 

Michael Moore directed and produced four of the highest-grossing documentaries of all time: Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11, Sicko and Capitalism: A Love Story. In addition to winning an Academy Award for Bowling for Columbine and the Cannes Film Festival's Palme d'Or for Fahrenheit 9/11, Moore earned an Emmy for his series, TV Nation.

Michael Moore's latest book, Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life, is slated to be released September 13, 2011.

‌Journalist and AuthorNathan McCall

Thursday, November 10, 2005

New York Times best-selling author Nathan McCall burst onto the national literary scene with his explosive 1995 autobiography, Makes Me Wanna Holler: A Young Black Man in America, which tells the story of his journey from the streets to prison to The Washington Post newsroom. He is also the author of What’s Going On: Personal Essays. McCall resigned from The Post in 1998 to accept an appointment as a visiting lecturer at Emory University in Atlanta. He is currently working on another book.

Ndaba Mandela  |  Grandson of Nelson Mandela, Founder of Africa Rising Foundation

April 6, 2023 at 1 p.m. in A300

Ndaba Mandela

Nelson Mandela had a “long walk to freedom,” yet his footprints still remain. Following in the footsteps of his beloved and iconic grandfather, Ndaba Mandela has taken the torch – and ran with it. Today, Nelson Mandela’s legacy lives on as Ndaba continues to keep its beacon of hope bright, fueling its fiery message that one person can make a difference. Thankfully for all, the legacy lives, as Ndaba was recently named one of the “28 Men of Change” by BET. His recent book, Going to the Mountain: Life Lessons from My Grandfather, Nelson Mandela, is the first-ever to tell Nelson Mandela's life through the eyes of the grandson who was raised by him, chronicling Ndaba's life living with, and learning from, one of the greatest leaders and humanitarians the world has ever known. Today, Ndaba is showing the world, through his actions and orations, that Nelson Mandela’s voice and message of freedom still carries and rings true – sounded by a child that became a man under the warm embrace and expert tutelage of one of history’s greatest teachers. Currently, Ndaba is organizing the 95th celebration of Nelson Mandela day and was also instrumental in creating the International Day of Happiness at the United Nations. He continues to keep Mandela on the world’s mind. Ndaba is the co-founder and co-chairman of the Africa Rising Foundation, an organization dedicated to promoting a positive image of Africa around the world and to increasing its potential for growth in the areas of education, employment and international corporate alliances for profit and partnership. Ndaba also serves as an executive director UN AIDS, which seeks to end discrimination around HIV/Aids through the power of football.

Race & Gender Justice Activist

February 1, 2024, 1 p.m. 

Watch the recording

Naomi TutuThe Rev. Nontombi Naomi Tutu knew from early in life that the one thing she would never be is a priest. She has always said, “I have my father’s nose, I do not want his job” However, after years spent as a development consultant, educator and race and gender activist she accepted her call to ordained ministry. She is an Episcopal priest who most recently was Associate Rector at All Saints, Beverly Hills. The challenges of growing black and female in apartheid South Africa have been the foundation of Naomi’s life as an activist for human rights. Those experiences taught her that our whole human family loses when we accept situations of oppression, and how the teaching and preaching hate and division injure us all. Rev. Tutu is the third child Archbishop Desmond and Nomalizo Leah Tutu. She was born in South Africa and had the opportunity to live in many communities and countries. 

A Compelling Conversation with Lt. Colonel Olga Custodio, USAF (Retired) Fighter Pilot, STEM Advocate and TrailblazerLt. Colonel Olga Custodio, USAF (Retired)

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Turned away from flight school because she was a woman, Olga Custodio went on to break barriers (including the sound barrier) as the first Latina to complete USAF military pilot training, first to become a United States Air Force pilot, and later, as the first Latina commercial pilot for American Airlines. She also holds firsts for all women as the first woman flight instructor at two major Air Force bases. Living by the mantra, “querer es poder” (loosely translated to “where there’s a will there’s a way”), Custodio’s perseverance, fighting spirit, leadership abilities and passion for flying took her to where few women have gone before. Now retired, she continues to lead and inspire, championing STEM and motivating women and girls to pursue aviation and male-dominated professions. | In Honor of Veterans Day 2018

Philonise Floyd, Brother of George Floyd and Social Changemaker

Thursday, October 21  |  6 p.m.

Philonise FloydThe murder of George Floyd, a Black man, by a Minneapolis police officer on May 25, 2020, shocked the nation and launched the largest protest marches and rallies for racial justice and civil rights in a generation. Philonise Floyd, the younger brother of George Floyd, was thrust into the national spotlight even as he grieved the loss of his brother. Philonise Floyd has turned his sorrow and anger into activism, speaking around the country about violence against Black people by police. He has founded an organization named PAKFISC, which is meant to support similar victims like George Floyd. He has testified at the United Nations and before the U.S. Congress. “I’m tired of the pain I’m feeling now and I’m tired of the pain I feel every time another black person is killed for no reason. I’m here today to ask you to make it stop,” he told Congress.

‌Broadcast Journalist

Thursday, April 13, 2006
Ray Suarez

Ray Suarez has 20 years of experience in the news industry. He currently is a senior correspondent and a backup anchor with PBS’s NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. Formerly, he was the host of NPR’s Talk of the Nation.

Mr. Suarez also held positions with other notable media outlets including CNN, the ABC Radio Network and CBS Radio. He’s the author of The Old Neighborhood: What We Lost in the Great Suburban Migration, and a contributor to Las Christmas: Favorite Latino Authors Share Their Holiday Memories. Suarez has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune and The Baltimore Sun.

Actor and ActivistRichard Dreyfuss

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

‌An outspoken social and political activist, Academy Award-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War and worked in alternate service for two years as a clerk in a Los Angeles hospital. Launching his Hollywood film career with a single line in The Graduate, he shot to fame in the box office hits Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Rebounding from drug dependency in the early 1980s, he went on to success in Mr. Holland’s Opus and other films and to starring roles on Broadway. 

‌Award-winning Actress, Choreographer and AIDS ActivistRosie Perez

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Rosie Perez is an Academy Award nominated actress and Emmy nominated choreographer. She has starred in both comedic and dramatic roles in a range of films including Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, The Road to El Dorado, White Men Can’t Jump and Somebody to Love.

She was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the film Fearless. In addition to her work as a film producer, director and choreographer, Perez has also been a star on stage, with a major role in the hit revival of Terence McNally’s Frankie & Johnnie in the Clair de Lune.

Throughout her career, Perez has been an activist for a number of causes, especially those related to AIDS, inner city youth and Puerto Rican rights. 

Author and Cultural CriticRoxane Gay - Conversation Compelling

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Roxane Gay’s work garners international acclaim for its reflective, no-holds-barred exploration of feminism and social criticism. Bad Feminist, a collection of essays, was named one of the best books of the year by NPR and declared “trailblazing” by Salon. Her debut novel, An Untamed State, was long-listed for the Flaherty- Dunnan First Novel Prize. In 2017, Gay released Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body and a collection of short stories titled Difficult Women. Gay’s writing has appeared in The New York Times and many other renowned publications. She recently became the first black woman to write for Marvel, penning a comic series in the Black Panther universe called World of Wakanda.

Follow Roxane Gay on Twitter: @rgay

‌Civil Rights Activist and Former Champion BoxerRubin Carter

‌Thursday, March 24, 2011

Rubin “Hurricane” Carter was a formidable boxer who had won the European Light Welterweight Championship for two years in a row when his promising career was cut short. In 1966, he was falsely arrested for the murder of three white people in a bar. Sentenced to a triple life-sentence, Carter always maintained his innocence. Subjected to a nineteen-year travesty of justice, he was finally set free in 1985 by a federal court. His story was immortalized in a Bob Dylan song and made into a Hollywood movie starring Denzel Washington. Carter has chronicled his own life in two books, The Sixteenth Round, and 2011’s Eye of the Hurricane: My Path from Darkness to Freedom. He now devotes much of his time to speaking out on behalf of the wrongly convicted.

‌Journalist, Author and CorrespondentSanjay Gupta

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dr. Sanjay Gupta is a practicing neurosurgeon. Named by USA Today a “pop culture icon,” he is a renowned journalist covering medical news both nationally and internationally. A leader in the national dialogue on healthcare, Dr. Gupta writes for and Time Magazine. He has written the bestseller “Chasing Life,” and his new book, titled “Cheating Death,” will be published in October.


Criminal Justice Activist and Boston Native

Thursday, February 24, 2022 at 6 p.m. 

Sean EllisSean K. Ellis spent nearly 22 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. At age 19, Ellis was convicted for the 1993 robbery and murder of a Boston Police detective, based on scant evidence and a witness statement that was later discovered to have been coerced by police officers. His first two trials ended in hung juries; he was convicted at a third trial. Sentenced to life in prison, Sean always proclaimed his innocence. In 2015, a judge ruled “justice was not done,” overturned his convictions, and freed him on bail. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts opted to try him again. Finally, in December 2018, the Suffolk County District Attorney dropped all charges but stopped short of fully exonerating him. In November 2020, Netflix released “Trial 4,” an original, eight-part documentary series about the Sean Ellis case produced by Gaumont and What’s Up Film. Ellis now works full-time as a development associate at the Boston non-profit Community Servings and is a Community Fellow in Tufts University’s Institute for Nonprofit Practice. He speaks frequently about his experiences, including at events sponsored by the New England Innocence Project, for which he is a trustee.

2023 James Beard Award Winner and Owner of Sly Fox Den Restaurant

November 16, 2023, 1 p.m.

Sherry PocknetChef Sherry Pocknett is a Mashpee Wampanoag chef, caterer, and educator, specializing in the Bounty of the Season, Indigenous foods, and New England cooking. She is the owner of the Sly Fox Den Too restaurant in Charlestown, Rhode Island. In 2023, Pocknett received the James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Northeast. She is the first Indigenous woman to be honored by the James Beard Foundation. Sherry was born and raised in Mashpee, MA to the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. She credits her love and passion for food and educating to her parents, Bernadine and Vernon Pocknett. Sherry grew up in the 1960's with parents who were traditional, living their life-ways as Wampanoag people, with the bounty of the seasons. Sherry started cooking at a young age and started her "Sly Fox Den" catering business. She has served delicious traditional Wampanoag food up and down the East coast at powwows, museum events, schools and universities.

Sonia Manzano  |  "Maria" on Sesame Street, Best-Selling Author and Producer

March 9, 2023, 1 p.m., in-person in C202

Sonia Manzano

For over 40 years, Sonia Manzano inspired, educated, and delighted children and families as "Maria" on Sesame Street. Named among the “25 Greatest Latino Role Models Ever” by Latina Magazine, Manzano broke ground as one of the first Hispanic characters on national television. Throughout her career, she has continued to contribute to enriching diversity on television, on the stage, and in the educational realm. A first generation American of Latin descent, Manzano’s tale is one of perseverance and courage as she overcame countless obstacles to become one of the most influential Latinas in television. Manzano was raised in the South Bronx, where her involvement in the arts was inspired by teachers who encouraged her to audition for the High School of Performing Arts. She was accepted there and began her career as an actress. A scholarship took her to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and in her junior year, she came to New York to star in the original production of the off-Broadway show Godspell. Within a year, Manzano joined the production of Sesame Street, where she eventually began writing scripts for the series. She was thrilled to help write the story line for “Maria’s” marriage and birth of “Maria’s” baby, played for a while by Manzano’s real-life daughter Gabriela. Recently, Scholastic and Manzano partnered to launch two middle-grade novels and two picture books. Some of Manzano's other books include her memoir, Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx (Scholastic), and a Christmas picture book, Miracle of 133rd Street (Simon & Schuster). Becoming Maria was praised by Kirkus Reviews for its “lyrical and unflinching account of her tough Nuyorican upbringing in the South Bronx,” and calls it a “touching memoir.” Kirkus Reviews says, “Manzano lovingly details life-changing moments,” with a “stark and heartbreaking contrast to her Sesame Street character.” Manzano’s latest book is A World Together, which aims to promote unity by celebrating cultural and generational diversity. Her upcoming book, Coming Up Cuban, will be out in April of 2022. Coming Up Cuban is set in 1959 and follows the lives of four children who each represent different intersections of race and class in Cuba.

Author, Radio and Television HostA picture of Tavis Smiley

‌Thursday, October 22, 2015 

Cited by Time magazine as one of “The World’s 100 Most Influential People,” Tavis Smiley currently hosts talk shows on PBS and Public Radio International. He is the author of 18 books, including most recently My Journey with Maya, which details his 28-year friendship with the poet and author Maya Angelou. His memoir, What I Know for Sure: My Story of Growing Up in America, became a New York Times bestseller, and the book he edited, Covenant with Black America, was the first nonfiction book by a Black-owned publisher to reach #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. The nonprofit Tavis Smiley Foundation works to alleviate endemic poverty in America.

Nobel Peace Prize-winningA picture of Tawakkol Karman
Women’s Rights Activist

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Tawakkol Karman is an ardent advocate of the non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work in Yemen. She is the first Yemeni and the first Arab woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, as well as the youngest Nobel Peace Prize recipient since the prize was first awarded in 1901.

A journalist and politician, Tawakkol is president of Women Journalists Without Chains and senior member of the Al-Islah political party. She has been imprisoned on a number of occasions for her pro-democracy, pro-human rights protests. Karman will address issues concerning women, human rights and the Arab revolution.

Tackling Equality with Former NFL Player Wade DavisWade Davis - Compelling Conversations

Thursday, February 28, 2019 

Wade Davis is a thought leader, public speaker and consultant on gender, race and orientation equality. Davis is the NFL’s first LGBT inclusion consultant, and currently consults for professional sports leagues on issues at the intersection sexism, racism and homophobia. In addition to his work in sports, Davis consults for such companies as Google, Netflix and AppNexus to build inclusive corporate cultures. He leads or is an active contributor on numerous educational and media projects to engage men on issues of gender equity and equality and ensure women’s workplace equality. His partnerships include collaborations with Time’s Up Now, the United Nations, Ebony Magazine and the Ms. Foundation. 

Policing: The Rise and Rising Up of the Disillusioned

‌Thursday, February 23, 2017A picture of Wes Moore

Acclaimed author Wes Moore is a veteran and Rhodes Scholar. He is the founder of BridgeEDU, an innovative college platform that addresses the college completion and job placement crisis, as well as STAND!, an organization which works with Baltimore youth in the criminal justice system. He joins BHCC to discuss the important and timely issue of urban policing in communities of color.

Moore has been featured by USA TodayTime MagazinePeople MagazineMeet the PressThe Colbert Report, MSNBC and NPR among others. He is also the host of Beyond Belief on the Oprah Winfrey Network, and the executive producer and host of PBS’s Coming Back with Wes Moore, which focuses on the re-integration of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their return home.

Moore is the author of New York Times best-sellers The Work and The Other Wes Moore, also a Wall Street Journal best-seller, as well as young adult novel This Way Home with Shawn Goodman.