Performing artist and scholar Jennifer Lisa Vest will be the keynote speaker for the 20th annual Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS) Symposium.

Vest will present “Black Lives Matter: [Trans]Gender Violence, Disability, and Women in a ‘Post-racial,’ ‘Post-Sexist’ Present” at 1 p.m. Friday, April 17, in the Bone Student Center. The talk is free and open to the public.

In celebration of the event, there will be a poetry reading at 7 p.m. Thursday April 16, at the University Galleries, 11 Uptown Circle, Normal.

Vest is a self-described “mixed-race queer feminist philosopher, poet, and artivist whose philopoetic works combine philosophy, poetry and feminist theories to provide intersectional analyses of social justice issues by explicating raced, gendered, and sexualized components of privilege, ablelism, and oppression.”

Her works on African, Indigenous and Caribbean philosophies, feminisms, police brutality and disability have been published in numerous academic and literary journals, including Philosophical Topics; Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya; Seattle Journal for Social Justice; The Fire This Time; The Canadian Journal of Native Studies; Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism; Medicine River; Women’s Studies; and Tongues, among others.

Her work explores post-racial racism and the roles of women. Performing throughout North America, Vest’s poetry has been published in eight anthologies and seven journals. She is also the author of a chapbook of poetry and has produced three poetry CDs.

The deaf community is encouraged to attend this lecture, where interpreters will be provided.

If you need special accommodations to fully participate in this event or more information, please contact Mandy Dartt at (309) 438-2947 or