Social Justice Summit

Summit group photo

On January 17-19, 2013, the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership hosted a summit that brought together social justice scholars, thought leaders, activists, and program directors from the United States, Kenya, and South Africa to examine the integration of social justice into higher education.

Two “Summit” events, a documentary film screening and a luncheon, were open to the public.

“Numerous colleges and universities have established social justice centers, institutes, offices, programs, schools, and prizes,” said Lisa Brock, academic director for Kalamazoo College’s Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership (ACSJL), and a “Summit” organizer.

“Some have missions focused on social transformation and curricular infusion, while others concentrate on community involvement, solution-based research, and/or global engagement. Most are dedicated to some combination of these practices, and all work in some ways on progressive social change,” she said. “Although there have been many conferences to discuss social justice and public engagement, this is the first time these topics will be discussed by directors and leaders in the field of social justice.”

The documentary film Mountains That Take Wing—Angela Davis & Yuri Kochiyama was screened in the Recital Hall Theatre, Light Fine Arts Building, on Jan. 17 at 7:00 p.m. “Mountains” chronicles 13 years in the lives of two women who share a passion for social justice: scholar-activist Angela Davis, and grassroots community activist and 2005 Nobel Peace Prize nominee Yuri Kochiyama. A conversation with filmmakers C.A. Griffith and H.L.T Quan follows the screening.

“Beyond Heroes and Holidays: Social Justice Leaders Reflect on the Civil Rights Movement,” was the theme of a luncheon discussion on Friday Jan. 18, 12:00 to 2:30 p.m. in the Hicks Student Center banquet room. Summit members examined the values and work of three very different leaders of the Civil Rights movement—Martin Luther King, Jr., Ella Baker and Bayard Rustin—and discussed what inspirations and cautions others should take from them on building and sustaining movements today.

 “Summit” invitees were: Lisa Brock; Dara Cooper, ACSJL Fellow and Founding Program Director, Freshmoves, Chicago; Kenyon Farrow, Communications Director, The Praxis Project New Orleans; Jaime Grant, Executive Director, ACSJL; Crystal Griffin, Social Justice Filmmaker, Arizona State University; Donte Hillard, Assistant Dean of Students and Director Multicultural Student Center and Institute for Justice Education and Transformation, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Amber Hollibaugh, Executive Director, Queers for Economic Justice, New York City; Janet Jakobson, Director, Barnard Center for Research on Women, Barnard College; Joseph Jones, Director, Office of the Social Justice Initiative, Philander Smith College; Godwin Morunga, Associate Director, African Leadership Center, University of Nairobi and Kings College-London; H. L. T. Quan, School of Social Transformation, Arizona State University; Barbara Ransby, Vice Provost, Social Justice Initiative, University of Illinois-Chicago; Gail Smith, Communications Director, Institute for Strategic Reflection, Mapungubwe, Johannesburg, South Africa; Rhonda Williams, Director of the Institute for Social Justice, Case Western University.