College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences - University of Houston
Skip to main content

CLASS Special Committee on Race and Social Justice

News & Events

Special Committee on Race and Social Justice


The Special Committee on Race and Social Justice in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS) at the University of Houston (UH) was first convened in June 2020 amid the unprecedented upsurge of Black Lives Matter protests across the United States and the world in the aftermath of the police murder of George Floyd and so many other African Americans and other people of color.

The impact of the first year of live-streamed lecture and panel discussion events attracted a generous donor gift to endow the lecture series in perpetuity, now re-titled The Panos Family Endowed Lecture in Equity and Justice.  The lectures are now held once each semester.


As an expression in practice of the College’s solidarity with contemporary civil rights struggles against systemic oppression, and as a duty of our greater educational mission, the Special Committee on Race and Social Justice was created to dedicate resources to deepening the understanding of race and racism in the University community and the wider public. The College is committed to advancing education in order to confront and eradicate injustice in all its forms and fostering a diverse and compassionate civil society that safeguards liberty and equality for all. 


The primary activity of the CLASS Special Committee on Race and Social Justice is the organization of The Panos Family Endowed Lecture in Equity and Justice, a prominent series of keynote lectures by distinguished invited speakers with expertise in the critical study of race and racial oppression in its multiple intersections with various aspects of social and political life.

Some of the themes addressed by this lecture series have included: the COVID-19 pandemic and racial dimensions of public health inequalities; voting rights and voter suppression; policing and the criminalization of people of color; the disproportionate mass incarceration of African Americans and other racial minorities in the United States; the racial foundations of modern capitalism and the economics of racial oppression; the racial underpinnings of contemporary immigration policy and border policing, with particular consequences for the racial injustice confronted by Latinx communities; the tragic mishandling of the Uvalde school shooting and its relationship to the history of anti-Mexican racial violence in Texas; and the racial issues at play in recent Supreme court decisions. 


During the 2020-21 academic year, the CLASS Lecture Series on Race and Social Justice consisted of six lecture and panel discussion events.  Beginning in Fall 2021, the lectures have been held once each semester.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the first 8 events were live-streamed webinars.  The first in-person lecture was held in Fall 2022, with simultaneous online livestream.  These keynote lecture events are always free and open to the public.

Committee Members

  • Nicholas De Genova, Ph.D.

    Committee Chair 
    Chair of the Department of Comparative Cultural Studies
    Professor of Anthropology

  • LaRahia Smith

    Executive Director
    Office of Marketing and Communication
    College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences

  • Tara T. Green, Ph.D.

    CLASS Distinguished Professor, and Chair of the Department of African American Studies

  • Pamela A. Quiroz, Ph.D.

    CLASS Distinguished Professor of Sociology, and Director of the Center for Mexican American and Latino/a Studies, and Executive Director, Inter University Program on Latino Research

  • Elizabeth Gregory, Ph.D.

    Professor of English and Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies
    Director of Institute for Research on Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies
    Department of English

For communications and marketing requests, please contact LaRahia Smith.

Lecture Archive Recordings