SOMD – The College of Southern Maryland (CSM) invites the public to several of its virtual Social Justice Week programs in 2021 as it sets to examine ‘Social Justice in Crisis’ with a week of presentations on how the global pandemic has impacted everyone, but not equally. Presented by CSM’s Equity and Inclusive Diversity Office, Global Initiatives Committee, the Thomas V. “Mike” Miller Center for Leadership, Student Life Department and the faculty and staff of CSM’s Social Justice Day Committee, the annual event is scheduled for April 12-16.

“Covid-19 has upended our world in ways that will require years of reflection and study to fully understand,” said CSM’s Executive Director of Equity and Inclusive Diversity Dr. Sybol Anderson.  “As the virus has crisscrossed the world, it has become embedded in and inflected by our existing social structures, problems, and inequities.

“The simple truth is that the pandemic has exacerbated inequalities among those marginalized because of race, poverty, gender, ability, and other factors,” Anderson added. “Our 2021 Social Justice Week takes up the task of better understanding the interplay between this global pandemic, social justice, and the lived experience of people most inordinately impacted by the virus.”

“This pandemic has dramatically impacted our world and left in its wake, populations disproportionately affected by COVID-19,” said CSM Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. Center for Leadership Director and CSM Communication Professor Denise Gilmer-Knudson. “This series will highlight these intersections through a social justice lens particularly in its impact on residents of Southern Maryland.”

The scheduled events represent a cross-disciplinary endeavor to offer a glimpse into the pandemic’s impact by addressing the issue from economic, mental, behavioral and physical health, criminal justice, racial justice and global perspectives. The public is invited to attend the following five, free programs:

“Health Benefits in Crisis” is presented by Seedco Lead Certified Navigator Michelle Gaskill, who working through Maryland Health Connection, leads a team of health insurance navigators in Charles, Calvert, and St Mary’s counties. Working closely with local community organizations, Gaskill identifies individuals and families who lack health insurance and helps them get back on track to healthy living. This evening program begins at 7:15 p.m. Monday, April 12. Register to receive Zoom information at

On Tuesday, April 13, from 2:30 – 3:30 p.m., Charles County Health Officer Dr. Dianna E. Abney serves as the week’s keynote speaker to present “Social Justice in Crisis – COVID’s Impact on Communities in Southern Maryland.”  She will discuss the pandemic’s impact on our communities and the vaccines that are currently available. Her presentation will focus, specifically, on the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on minorities, and the particular importance of vaccinations for this group. She’ll also address issues of fear and distrust of the vaccine, and educate the audience on its safety and efficacy in fighting this virus.

Abney recently returned to her position in Charles County after serving two years at Children’s National Hospital in the Pediatric Health Network. Prior to that she was the Health Officer for the Charles County Department of Health from December 2012 to August 2018. Under her leadership the health department offered a wide range of public health services, and decreased disparities by increasing access to dental, behavioral health and primary care services. She shares that one of her proudest accomplishments was bringing primary care back to Nanjemoy by opening a family medicine clinic in the community center.

Register to attend Abney’s keynote address and receive Zoom information at

“Adjust the Procedure Play Discussion” also occurs on Wednesday from 1 – 2:20 p.m. with CSM Professor Rachel Smith and playwright Jake Shore discussing Shore’s recently premiered drama conceived during the pandemic and created with Zoom theater in mind.

The movie depicts how the pandemic consumes a Manhattan university in fall 2020. In addition to tracking rising cases of COVID on campus, the school’s administrators face immigration problems, suicide threats and professors struggling with their mental and emotional health. But in the midst of all the madness, it’s the internal bureaucratic battles that threaten the school’s preservation. Filmed over the course of two conflict-ridden Zoom meetings, Adjust the Procedure gives audiences a rare peek into the business of higher education at a moment of multiple reckonings. Register to receive a link to view the performance and to attend the discussion at

Later in the day April 14, CSM hosts “Public Attitudes on Race in America” as the fourth program in the virtual series, “Bridging Our Gaps: Community Conversations to Strengthen Our Democracy,” which is hosted by CSM’s Equity and Inclusive Diversity Office and SMCM’s Center for the Study of Democracy and Office of Inclusive Diversity, Equity, Access, and Accountability. From 7-8:30 p.m., Study of Democracy Director Dr. Antonio Ugues, takes the public through a discussion on public views about race and racism in America.

The springboard for this conversation is Ugues’ 2020 Study on Democracy and Elections in America, a national survey that captured public opinion on the integrity of the 2020 election, policing in America, US immigration policy, and race and racism. For Social Justice Week, Ugues will provide an overview of the data regarding American’s views of race and racism and the audience will break out into smaller groups to discuss the data and their implications. Registration is required for this free Zoom event at

The Pandemic’s Impact on the Homeless Community” rounds out the events offered to the public Thursday, April 15, at 7:15 p.m. Sandy Washington, executive director of Lifestyles, will discuss the current state of services for the homeless in Charles County and how the homeless population has been affected by the pandemic.

A long-time Social Justice Day presenter, Washington inspires students to volunteer to give back to their community and those in need. In 1998 she co-founded LifeStyles of Maryland Foundation, Inc., whose mission is to empower people and assist in providing a better quality of life through social awareness and community development. Although the organization is located in La Plata, Md., assistance is provided to residents throughout Southern Maryland. Washington and the organization have been recognized throughout Maryland for their dedication to serving those who are homeless, from street outreach to more permanent housing initiatives. 

Register here to receive a link to attend this event at