Southeastern Conference on Race and Leadership

in Independent Schools.

June 25-27, 2021

Ensworth School

Nashville, TN

We're on for 2021, and we're

excited to see you all again!

“Tearing Down the Walls” is a two-day race and leadership conference for independent school students in the Southeast. The purpose of the conference is to afford students from diverse racial and socio-economic backgrounds the opportunity to become leaders and bridge builders in the arena of race relations. Our vision is for students to return home emboldened to lead.

NEW FOR 2021: This year, for the first time, we are offering educators the opportunity to come without students and participate in a full day's worth of professional development.

On Saturday, June 26, you'll join colleagues from all over the Southeast, in-person, in sessions designed and led by fellow educators. The cost is $200 per participant, and you can see speakers and register below.

Questions? Reach out to David Whitfield (whitfieldd@ensworth.com), Dina Marks (marksd@ensworth.com), or Judy Osborne (jdyosborne@gmail.com).


Battle Ground Academy (Franklin, TN)
Baylor School (Chattanooga, TN)
Ensworth School (Nashville, TN)
Evangelical Christian School (Cordova, TN)
Fort Worth Country Day (Ft. Worth, TX)
Harpeth Hall School (Nashville, TN)
Holy Innocents' Episcopal School  (Atlanta, GA)
Hutchison School (Memphis, TN)
The Lovett School (Atlanta, GA)
McCallie School (Chattanooga, TN)
Memphis University School (Memphis, TN)
Montgomery Bell Academy (Nashville, TN)
The Paideia School (Atlanta, GA)
Pace Academy (Atlanta, GA)
Providence Christian Academy (Murfreesboro, TN)
St. Andrews--Sewanee School (Sewanee, TN)
St. George's Independent School (Memphis, TN)
St. Mary's Episcopal School (Memphis, TN)
Trinity Valley School (Ft. Worth, TX)
University School of Nashville (Nashville, TN)
The Walker School (Marietta, GA)
Westminster Schools (Atlanta, GA)

Follow us on Instagram and Twitter to see pictures from past conferences and to keep up with what our participants are doing to tear down walls in their schools and communities.

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The Tearing Down the Walls conference is organized in association with the National Center for Race Amity.



Aram Ferdowsi

By the age of five, Aram Jazab Ferdowsi lived in three continents.  She immigrated to America in 1963, soon to learn about the Civil Rights movement and what it meant to be an immigrant kid at Nashville elementary schools.  The experience had lasting effects.  She completed her high school in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and attended Vanderbilt University, where she became Family Nurse Practitioner.  Her heart drew her to the subject of one human family and in 1992 was part of a team that helped develop and offer a two-year diversity training program to the Nashville Metropolitan Police Force.  She has served on the Interfaith Alliance of Nashville, the Institute for the Healing of Racism, and Clergy and Laity Concerned.  Presently, Aram offers grassroots programs that enable pre-teens and teenagers to explore the commonality of their human experience and how to be of service to each other and their communities.  She lectures on Iran and the DRC at civic organizations, schools, universities, and clubs.  She serves on the Regional Baha’i Council of the Appalachian states, and these words capture her life’s goal: “The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens.”

Judy Osborne

Judy Osborne is a DEI Strategist, writer and facilitator with expertise in youth advocacy, educational and equity programming and professional development.  As the former Director of Equity & Inclusion Programs at The Westminster Schools in Atlanta, Georgia, an integral part of her student and faculty engagement work centers on documentary film and popular media as tools for starting meaningful conversations. Her recently published article here in Independent School Magazine explores the challenges and opportunities of DEI leadership roles in schools, along with specific strategies to increase the impact of this important work – now.

Dr. Frederick Gooding
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Frederick W. Gooding, Jr. (PhD, Georgetown University) is an Associate Professor within the Honors College at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX. Gooding critically analyzes race within mainstream media, effectively contextualizing problematic patterns based upon their historical roots. As such, Gooding’s best-known work thus far is “You Mean, There’s RACE in My Movie? The Complete Guide to Understanding Race in Mainstream Hollywood,” which has been utilized in high schools and universities nationwide. Also, the co-editor of “Stories from the Front of the Room: How Higher Education Faculty Overcome Challenges and Thrive in the Academy,” Gooding has stayed focused on the practical applications of equity with his 2018 book, “American Dream Deferred” carefully detailing the growth and struggles of black federal workers in the postwar era. His latest work, “Black Oscar” (May 2020), expands his reach into cultural studies by analyzing African American Academy Award winners and how their narratives reflect and reinforce larger American history.



Each school bringing students and adults pays a flat registration fee of $1500.00; this fee covers registration, lodging, and food costs for all students and chaperones. 

COVID Note: We will be running the conference in accordance with CDC guidelines; this means that we'll have fewer people in each session, participants will be spaced out in the classroom and meeting spaces, and masks will be required. 

We strongly encourage all in-person participants who can be vaccinated against COVID-19 to be vaccinated before the conference, as doing so adds an extra layer of safety for all participants.

Register Your School and Pay for Your Students 

Bringing Students?: Chaperone registration Form


Student Participants: Registration Form

Coming without students?

Professional Development Registration Form