Elon University announces Speaker Series lineup for 2023-24 academic year

Among those visiting Elon will be journalist and author Mónica Guzmán, entrepreneur Daymond John, activist and CEO Reshma Saujani and the authors of “We are Charleston: Tragedy and Triumph at Mother Emanuel.”

A graphic introducing the 2023-2024 Elon University Speaker Series sponsored by WUNCElon University will host an exciting and engaging lineup of speakers from the worlds of business, economic empowerment, social connection activism and more during the 2023-24 academic year. The 2023-24 Elon University Speaker Series, offered in partnership with WUNC, will include events centered around the theme of “Creating Together” that will offer audiences the opportunity to hear from thought leaders and changemakers impacting the world.

The series includes journalist and author Mónica Guzmán, entrepreneur Daymond John, activist and CEO Reshma Saujani and the authors of “We are Charleston: Tragedy and Triumph at Mother Emanuel” and is part of a robust calendar of events at Elon University throughout the year.

The university’s full cultural calendar is available and includes additional speakers as well as a wide range of musical, theatrical, artistic and other intellectually engaging events. Access the full calendar here.

Thursday, Sept. 21

Mónica Guzmán
“Curious Questions, Sparking Conversations”

Alumni Gym, Koury Athletic Center, 7 p.m.
Elon Common Reading Lecture

Mónica GuzmánMónica Guzmán is a bridge builder, journalist and author who lives for great conversations. She is the author of the Elon University 2023-24 Common Reading selection, “I Never Thought of It That Way: How to Have Fearlessly Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times.”

Guzmán is Senior Fellow for Public Practice at Braver Angels, the nation’s largest cross-partisan grassroots organization working to depolarize America; founder and CEO of Reclaim Curiosity, an organization working to build a more curious world; co-founder of the award-winning Seattle newsletter The Evergrey; and adviser for Starts With Us and the Generations Over Dinner project.

A Mexican immigrant, Latina and dual U.S./Mexico citizen, she lives in Seattle with her husband and two children and is a proud liberal daughter of conservative parents.

Admission: $15 or Elon ID. Tickets are available now at elon.edu/boxoffice.

Friday, Sept. 29

Daymond John

Schar Center, 3:30 p.m.
Fall Convocation

Daymond JohnFounder and CEO of celebrated global lifestyle brand FUBU, star of ABC’s “Shark Tank” and CEO of The Shark Group consulting agency, Daymond John is an award-winning entrepreneur and a pioneer in the fashion industry with more than $6 billion in product sales.

John is also an author of six best-sellers including “Powershift” (2020), the book that walks through his tried-and-true process to transform any situation, close any deal and achieve any outcome through his experience and vast network of industry leaders.

An innovator in every sense of the word, John has come a long way from launching his success in the basement of his mother’s house.

Admission: $15 or Elon ID. Tickets are available now at elon.edu/boxoffice.

Tuesday, Oct. 24

Reshma Saujani

McKinnon Hall, Moseley Center, 7 p.m.

Reshma SaujaniReshma Saujani is the founder of Girls Who Code and founder and CEO of Moms First. A leading activist, she has spent more than a decade building movements to fight for women and girls’ economic empowerment, working to close the gender gap in the tech sector, and most recently advocating for policies to support moms impacted by the pandemic.

Her new book, “Pay Up: The Future of Women and Work (and Why It’s Different Than You Think)” presents a bold plan to address the burnout and inequity harming America’s working women today. She is also the author of “Brave, Not Perfect,” and her influential TED Talk has more than 5 million views globally.

Admission: $15 or Elon ID. Tickets are available now at elon.edu/boxoffice.

Tuesday, Jan. 9

We are Charleston
“A conversation with the authors of ‘We are Charleston: Tragedy and Triumph at Mother Emmanuel.”

McCrary Theatre, Center for the Arts, 6 p.m.
Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Address

Bernard Edward Powers Jr., Marjory Wentworth and Herb Frazier
Bernard Edward Powers Jr., Marjory Wentworth and Herb Frazier

Published in 2016, “We are Charleston: Tragedy and Triumph at Mother Emanuel” recounts the events of the horrific shooting at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, that left nine members of the congregation dead. Two days later, as white supremacist Dylan Roof was appearing in court after being charged with the murders, the families of the nine victims forgave the killer.

“We are Charleston” followed almost a year to the day after the shooting, written by Herb Frazier, Bernard Edward Powers Jr. and Marjory Wentworth. Reginald Hildebrand, associate professor of African American Studies & History at the University writes that “In ‘We are Charleston,’ a sharp investigative reporter, a distinguished historian and a gifted poet have blended their skills, their knowledge, and their humanity in order to craft a probing account of and an insightful meditation on what happened to nine people who got caught being Black and trying to be Christian on a warm night in Charleston. This unsentimental yet sensitive book will become a very important part of the way that we remember and honor those nine unique individuals.”

Herb Frazier is a Charleston, South Carolina-based writer. He’s special projects editor for the Charleston City Paper, and the former marketing director at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens in Charleston. Before he joined Magnolia, Frazier edited and reported for five daily newspapers in the South, including his hometown paper, The Post and Courier. The South Carolina Press Association named him a Journalist of the Year. He has taught newswriting as a visiting lecturer at Rhodes University in South Africa. He is a former Michigan Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. He studied journalism at the University of South Carolina.

He is the author of “Behind God’s Back: Gullah Memories.” He is the co-editor of “Ukweli: Searching for Healing Truth, South Carolina Writers and Poets Examine American Racism.” Frazier’s forthcoming book, “Sleeping with the Ancestors: How I Followed the Footprints of Slavery,” is co-written with Joseph McGill, founder of the Slave Dwelling Project.

Bernard E. Powers Jr. earned a doctorate in American history at Northwestern University. He is professor emeritus of history at the College of Charleston and the college’s founding director of the Center for the Study of Slavery in Charleston. Powers has also served as the interim CEO of Charleston’s International African American Museum. His “Black Charlestonians: A Social History 1822-1885,” was designated an “Outstanding Academic Book” by Choice Magazine.

Most recently he has edited “101 African Americans Who Shaped South Carolina.”  Powers has appeared in African American-oriented documentary films, including the PBS production, “The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross” and “Emanuel: The Untold Story of the Victims and Survivors of the Charleston Church Shooting.” He was the founding president of the Charleston Branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. In 2019 that organization recognized his commitment to “research, writing, and activism in the field of African American life and history” with the Carter Godwin Woodson Scholars Medallion.

Marjory Wentworth is the New York Times bestselling author of “Out of Wonder” and “Poems Celebrating Poets” (with Kwame Alexander and Chris Colderley). Her books of poetry include “Noticing Eden,” “Despite Gravity,” “The Endless Repetition of an Ordinary Miracle” and “New and Selected Poems.” Her poems have been nominated for The Pushcart Prize seven times. She is also the co-writer of “Taking a Stand, The Evolution of Human Rights,” with Juan E. Mendez. She is co-editor with Kwame Dawes of “Seeking, Poetry and Prose inspired by the Art of Jonathan Green,” and the author of the prizewinning children’s story “Shackles.”

She served as the poet laureate of South Carolina from 2003-2017. In 2020, she was named a National Coalition Against Censorship Free Speech is for Me Advocate. Wentworth teaches courses in writing, social justice and banned books at The College of Charleston. Wentworth was named a Black Earth Institute Fellow for 2022 through 2025.