Social Justice Activist to Speak as Part of Honors College Invites Series

Payton Head
Curtis Taylor, Jr.

Payton Head

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – It was a Friday night in 2015, and Payton Head wanted some cookies. Walking across the University of Missouri campus to buy some, he was peppered with racial slurs by some young people passing by in a pickup truck.

Head, the president of Mizzou’s students’ association, had been subjected to such harassment before, but this time he took action. He posted about the experience on Facebook, igniting a conversation on race relations and inclusivity that reverberated across both his campus and the world of higher education. His post sparked the #ConcernedStudent1950 protests on the Missouri campus in 2015 that ultimately led to the resignation of the school’s chancellor and the UM System president.

Payton Head will deliver a free public lecture titled “Intentionally Intersectional Leadership” at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 6, in the Gearthart Hall auditorium, with a light reception to follow. The lecture is part of the Honors College Invites series, which brings thinkers and doers to campus to share their experiences.

“Payton Head’s visit is very timely in a national way,” said Honors College Dean Lynda Coon. “It encapsulates the challenges faced by flagship universities in so many ways, and we couldn’t be more excited to host him on our campus.”

In conjunction with Head’s lecture, there will be a free public screening of the 2017 documentary Whose Streets? at 6 p.m. Monday, March 5, also in the Gearhart Hall auditorium, followed by a panel discussion featuring Head. The film tells the story of the protests at Ferguson, Missouri, from the perspective of the citizens who participated in them. Assistant professor Valandra, head of the Program in African and African American Studies, said the film “is an engaging insider perspective of everyday grassroots organizing and activism. Payton Head’s visit and panel discussion are opportunities to engage the campus and community in meaningful and collective dialogues that foster civic engagement and coalition-building to promote social justice for all.”

All on campus and in the community are invited to attend both events. Seating is limited, so participants are asked to complete an online RSVP form, and come early to reserve their seats.

A member of the LGBTQ community, Head has led the charge for racial and gender equality on college campuses since graduating from Mizzou. He has been awarded an NAACP Image Award for his efforts and was featured in Spike Lee’s ESPN documentary 2 Fists UP. He has also presented at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and the first White House Convening for Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education. Head has been featured in national media outlets such as CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times and The Washington Post.

About the Honors College: The University of Arkansas Honors College was established in 2002 and unites the university’s top undergraduate students and professors in a learning environment characterized by discovery, creativity and service. Each year the Honors College awards up to 90 freshman fellowships that provide $70,000 over four years, and more than $1 million in undergraduate research and study abroad grants. The Honors College is nationally recognized for the high caliber of students it admits and graduates. Honors students enjoy small, in-depth classes, and programs are offered in all disciplines, tailored to students’ academic interests, with interdisciplinary collaborations encouraged. Fifty percent of Honors College graduates have studied abroad – three times the national average – and one hundred percent of them have engaged in mentored research.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.


Samantha Kirby, editor
Honors College

Kendall Curlee, director of communications
Honors College


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