SJRJ Conference empowers students to create change

Cornel West
Cornel West

The University of Oregon Multicultural Center is holding its Social Justice Real Justice conference (SJRJ) from Thursday, Feb. 14 through Saturday Feb. 16, in the Erb Memorial Union.

The conference – which includes panels, workshops and nationally known keynote speakers – addresses a variety of current topics intended to help students achieve personal growth, develop leadership skills and understand cultural pluralism. Conference organizers also hope to encourage community education and positive social change, and reduce oppression, by helping students and community members explore ways to mobilize and organize.

The conference gives all student union and student program groups the opportunity to get involved and work together. The event has been entirely organized and led by students.

The list of panels and workshops includesEnvironmental Justice and Human Rights on the River,” with Chief Caleen Sisk of the Winnemem Wintu and others discussing the present state of the water wars on the California/Oregon river system; “Healing, Hope and Strength for Survivors,” a discussion by Carissa Phelps of the Carissa Project, which works to rehabilitate exploited and trafficked youth; and the “National Racism Free Zone Project,” presented by Baharti Ansari. The project encourages individuals and groups to take responsibility for eliminating racism by establishing racism free zones within schools, churches, workplaces and communities. See complete list of panels and workshops.

The invited keynoters include Dolores Huerta, who spoke at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 14, in the EMU Ballroom. Huerta is a labor leader and civil rights activist who, along with César Chávez, co-founded the National Farmworkers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers (UFW). Huerta has received numerous awards for her community service and advocacy for workers', immigrants', and women’s rights.

Winona LaDuke speaks at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 15, in the EMU Ballroom and at 1:30 p.m. in Knight Law Room 175. LaDuke is an internationally renowned activist working on Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Environmental Justice in Native America.

Cornel West speaks at 3:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15, in the EMU Ballroom. (Note: conference attendees who pick up their registration packets by noon on Friday, Feb. 15 will receive a ticket to West's lecture. Unclaimed tickets will be released at noon.)

West is a professor at Princeton University and a philosopher, orator, civil rights activist, classical violinist and actor (in two “Matrix” movies). On weekends, West travels the country delivering lectures and has a passion for keeping alive the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. – of telling the truth and bearing witness to love and justice.

The conference includes entertainment, with the UO student group Duck Street Dance Club, Rocky Rivera and Dead Prez performing at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16, at the WOW Hall for the Performing Arts, 291 West 8th Ave., in Eugene.

 The conference is free.

Read more about keynoters.

- by Aria Seligmann, UO Office of Strategic Communications