KEVIN & TONI PITTS
"...IF YOU WORK FOR SOMEBODY WHO IS A RACIST, THERE ISN’T ANYTHING THAT YOU CAN DO TO MAKE THEM HAPPY. I WORKED FOR A MAN ONCE. IT WAS INTERESTING. HE TOOK GREAT PLEASURE IN HUMILIATING ME AT WORK, IN FRONT OF PEOPLE. THERE WASN’T ANYTHING I CAN DO TO MAKE THIS MAN HAPPY. HIS GOAL WAS TO BREAK MY SPIRIT, AND I WASN’T HAVING ANY PART OF THAT. I DIDN’T SAY ANYTHING TO HIM, BUT THAT WAS THE THOUGHT IN MY MIND. AND WHEN I WALKED DOWN THE HALL EVERY DAY, AND I LOOKED AT HIM, THAT’S WHAT I THOUGHT. I THOUGHT, “YOU’RE NOT GOING TO BREAK MY SPIRIT. I AM NOT GOING TO LET YOU HAVE THAT, THAT PART OF ME..."
Toni Pitts was born in the late 1950s and grew up in Indiana, in a predominantly white neighborhood. Pitts went to Manchester College for two years, and then transferred to Indiana University, where she majored in telecommunications, radio, and TV. Her first job out of college was at WTTV-4 Capital Broadcasting. Currently, Pitts works in the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois and recently received the Leadership in Diversity award. Her job is to talk to prospective students and parents who want to come here to study physics at the University of Illinois. She also runs a program called “Saturday Physics for Everyone".
Kevin Pitts was born in 1965 and grew up in Anderson, Indiana. He attended Anderson University in Indiana, and then the Universities of Tennessee and Oregon for graduate school, earning a Ph.D. in physics. Kevin worked at Fermilab from 1994 to 1999, and came to work at the physics department at the University of Illinois in 1999. He is currently the associate dean in the College of Engineering.
At the Department of Physics, they both make efforts to help bring people from underrepresented groups into the program.