June 10, 2020 #ShutDownSTEM movement

The MIT Mathematics Department gathered together on June 10, 2020 as part of the #ShutDownSTEM movement. This page provides materials from that event for those who were not able to attend, as well as resources for those who want to learn more and take action.

Pre-event readings


The plenary session began with opening remarks from Michel Goemans followed by three readings: Langston Hughes’ Harlem, read by Tom Mrowka; Maya Angelou’s Caged Bird, read by Haynes Miller; and Ross Gay’s A small needful fact, read by Elise Brown. We then observed 8 minutes and 46 minutes of silence in memory of George Floyd, with a preface from Henry Cohn. During this time a scrolling list of some recent victims of anti-Black violence was shown. We then heard an excerpt from Ijeoma Oluo’s book So you want to talk about race, read by Peter Haine.

We then split into five breakout sessions (slides are linked below):

After rejoining the plenary session, we heard summaries of the discussions from representatives of each session, followed by final remarks and calls to action from Drew Sutherland and Michel Goemans.


Links to resources related to each of the breakout sessions are listed below. You may also find this glossary of terms useful.

Anti-Racism for Newcomers

Mathematics and Policing

Race and Incarceration in the U.S.

The Economics of Racism

Anti-Blackness at MIT

Further reading and listening

Actions the department is taking

  • Improve the Diversity page to highlight first-person narratives from math students/faculty from underrepresented groups, facilitate peer mentorship opportunities, and include links to information about department and Institute resources for diversity/equity/inclusion.
  • Establish a clear channel for members of the department to give feedback.
  • Create a new group “Black mathematicians at MIT” including undergraduates, graduate students, faculty and other members of the MIT mathematics community, and create a new section on the department website for it.

Actions you can take

  • Justice in June, a reading/listening/viewing guide for the month of June to become more informed; there are plans that take 10, 25, or 45 minutes/day including concrete steps you can take to help.
  • Join the reading seminar organized by Peter Haine and Tom Mrowka to read and discuss An inclusive academy: Achieving diversity and excellence, by Abigail J. Stewart and Virginia Valian. The plan is to meet each Wednesday at 8 pm, starting June 24.
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