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Pisgah Legal to Host 10th Annual Justice Forum Via Zoom

Clint Smith. Photo by Calvin Gavion

Pisgah Legal Services will host the 10th Annual Justice Forum online via zoom on Thursday, October 1, with an online reception at 6 p.m. and the forum beginning at 7 p.m. This year’s keynote speaker is Clint Smith, PhD, an award-winning poet and teacher whose two TED talks, The Danger of Silence and How to Raise a Black Son in America, have been viewed more than seven million times. “We initially selected Clint Smith as this year’s Justice Forum speaker with the intention of focusing on the idea that housing justice is racial justice,” says Ally Donlan Wilson, director of development at Pisgah Legal Services. “Clint uses his experience as a writer, educator and researcher to give historical context to the structural racism that we see today in all systems, such as housing and health care.” The pre-event reception will offer an opportunity for attendees to chat together in small groups as well as a poetry reading by Smith and a musical performance by local musician Kat Williams. The forum itself will include a Q&A section to allow for audience participation.

Clint was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2018, and also to Ebony magazine’s Power 100 list in 2017. He was the champion of the 2014 National Poetry Slam and a finalist in the Individual World Poetry Slam, as well as a Cave Canem Fellow and a Callaloo Fellow. He has also served as a cultural ambassador for the US Department of State. His diverse experience on both the literal stage and the virtual stage make him uniquely suited for the first-ever virtual Justice Forum. “Clint is a great fit for an online Justice Forum as he is used to speaking and performing virtually through TED talks and other events,” says Wilson.

Smith was chosen as the keynote speaker in February, before the pandemic, the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests. “Western North Carolina, along with the rest of the country, is really in a time of reckoning with race and structural racism,” says Wilson.

“We didn’t anticipate this when we asked Clint Smith to be the speaker, but the current times reinforce that this year’s Justice Forum is particularly important to our community. Clint’s voice and perspective will help us understand the factors at play that have brought us to this moment of change.”

The Justice Forum is free and tickets to the pre-event reception are $25 per person. For more information about the event, call Ally Wilson at Pisgah Legal Services at 828.210.3444 or visit

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