The Center for Creative and Performing Arts at Salem State University and the Salem State University Alliance, a student organization dedicated to promoting acceptance and understanding of the LGBTQIA+ community, will host a virtual conversation with human rights activist Judy Shepard on Thursday, April 8, 2021, at 7 pm. In October 1998, Judy and Dennis Shepard lost their 21-year-old son Matthew, to a murder motivated by anti-gay hate. Matthew’s death moved many thousands of people around the world to attend vigils and rallies in his memory. Determined to prevent others from suffering their son’s fate, Judy and Dennis decided to turn their grief into action and established the Matthew Shepard Foundation to carry on Matthew’s legacy. The Foundation is dedicated to working toward the causes championed by Matthew during his life: social justice, diversity, awareness and education, and equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. The conversation will focus on embracing the dignity and equality of all people and will be moderated by C. Julie Whitlow, Assistant Provost for Global Engagement. The event is co-sponsored with the office of First Year Experience and is free and open to the public.
The conversation with Ms. Shepard is offered in advance of the Salem State Theatre department’s virtual production of “The Laramie Project,” a play written by Moisés Kaufman and the Members of the Tectonic Theater Project, and inspired by Matthew’s legacy. The livestream opens April 29, 2021, and will run through May 6, 2021.
When: Thursday, April 8, 2021 @ 7 pm
Who is Judy Shepard?
Judy Shepard is the founding president of the Matthew Shepard Foundation Board of Directors, and served as its first executive director as well, from 1999 to 2009. In her continuing role as board president, she travels across the nation speaking to audiences about what they can do as individuals and communities to make this world a more accepting place for everyone, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, sex, gender identity and expression, or sexual orientation. Speaking from a mother’s perspective, Judy also authored a 2009 memoir, “The Meaning of Matthew,” exploring the family’s journey through the prosecution of Matthew’s assailants, the ensuing media coverage, and their continuing work to advance civil rights. Originally trained as a teacher, Mrs. Shepard holds a Bachelor of the Arts degree in Secondary Education from the University of Wyoming where she later pursued some post-graduate studies. She and Dennis continue to make their home in Casper, Wyoming.
About the Center for Creative and Performing Arts
Salem State’s Center for Creative and Performing Arts (CCPA) provides the arts explorer a singular destination to experience world-class guest artists and award-winning student and faculty performances in dance, music and theatre as well as art exhibitions and spoken word events. The CCPA is committed to providing diverse, inclusive and affordable arts experiences to the communities on Boston’s north shore.
About Salem State University
Salem State University, established in 1854, is a comprehensive, public institution of higher learning located approximately 15 miles north of Boston, Massachusetts. One of the largest state universities in the Commonwealth, Salem State enrolls about 7,000 undergraduate and graduate students. It offers 32 undergraduate programs and graduate programs that offer degrees in 24 fields. The university also has a continuing education division that offers both credit and non-credit programs. Known for the academic strength of its faculty, Salem State was named a Top Producer of U.S. Fulbright Scholars in 2011 and for the 2016-2017 academic year. The university is designated a Top College and University by Military Advanced Education and a Best for Vets College by Military Times. Salem State proudly participates in the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement and has shown a student voting rate well above the national average, earning the university a gold seal from the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge.
About the Matthew Shepard Foundation
The Matthew Shepard Foundation’s mission is to amplify the story of Matthew Shepard to inspire individuals, organizations and communities to embrace the dignity and equality of all people. Through local, regional and national outreach, we empower individuals to find their voice to create change and challenge communities to identify and address hate that lives within their schools, neighborhoods and homes. Our work is an extension of Matt’s passion to foster a more caring and just world. We share his story and embody his vigor for civil rights to change the hearts and minds of others to accept everyone as they are. Learn more at www.matthewshepard.org.
Creative Collective is celebrating the ways we can get outside this Spring with their #SpringOnTheNorthShore campaign, an initiative created to highlight the best that springtime North of Boston has to offer on the longer, warmer days.
Area businesses can participate in the event by using the hashtag #SpringOnTheNorthShore and tagging @creativecollectivema and @creativenorthshore in posts on social media highlighting ways their businesses are encouraging people to get out and explore the best of the region this Spring.