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WVU Hardesty Festival of Ideas 2020 hosts nationally renowned activists

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Nationally known activists Lilly Ledbetter, W. Kamau Bell and Piper Kerman headline this year's Hardesty Festival of Ideas at WVU.

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Three people whose activism and advocacy for gender, race and incarcerated women have put them on the national stage will visit the West Virginia University Morgantown campus during the Hardesty Festival of Ideas this spring, giving students and the University community an opportunity to hear from agents of change. 

Lilly Ledbetter, the author of “Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond,” will discuss her fight for gender equality, equal pay and how she became the figurehead for President Barack Obama’s first official piece of legislation. Ledbetter's appearance is sponsored by the Council for Women's Concerns, the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, the Harriet E. Lyon Professorship in Women's and Gender Studies, the Leadership Studies Program and the Women's Resource Center. She will speak March 10, at 7:30 p.m. in the Mountainlair Ballrooms with a book signing immediately afterward.

W. Kamau Bell, a sociopolitical comedian and host of the Emmy Award winning docu-series “United Shades of America,” recently made his Netflix debut as a stand-up comedian and author. He will speak March 25, at 7:30 p.m. in the Lyell B. Clay Theatre at the WVU Creative Arts Center

Piper Kerman, the author of the memoir turned hit Netflix original series, “Orange is the New Black,” is also a prominent activist for the recent rise in female incarceration in the US. Her work as an activist has been recognized as far as the White House Champions for Change Program. Her appearance is cosponsored by the WVU Reed College of Media, which has partnered with the University of Oklahoma in a solutions-based journalism project involving formerly incarcerated women, the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies. Kerman will speak April 14, at 7:30 in the Mountainlair Ballrooms with a book signing immediately afterward.

Reservations are required for all events. Free tickets can be claimed on the Eventbrite website.

Created in 1995 by President Emeritus David C. Hardesty, Jr., Festival of Ideas is a speaker series inspired by Hardesty’s time as the WVU’s student body president. The festival aims to bring diverse and dynamic public figures and thought leaders to engage with the campus community and spark dialogue about important issues in modern society.



CONTACT: Lisa Martin
Senior Special Events Coordinator

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