Annual Social Justice Symposium Tackles Local Concerns
By Laurie Anderson | January 14, 2019
On Saturday, January 26, students from the University of Georgia School of Social Work will host a day-long series of free workshops, panel discussions and networking opportunities on ways to create a sustainable, more just lifestyle for people living in the Athens-Clarke County area.
“There’s so much going on in Athens and we’re glad to continue offering space for a variety of organizations to start dialogue around social justice and share their work with us,” said Haley Miranda, one of the event’s organizers.
Topics to be covered include access to health and financial services, food, housing, transportation and effective communication. Participants include representatives of over a dozen nonprofit organizations, such as Children First, Inc., Mindful Breath Sangha, Good Roots, BikeAthens and the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia, to name a few. A who’s who of Athens area activists will speak, among them Fenwick Broyard, former executive director of Community Connection; Matthew Epperson, executive director of the Georgia Cooperative Development Center; artist Broderick Flanigan; and John Lash, executive director of the Georgia Conflict Center. An exhibit of social justice-inspired art also will be on display, featuring work by Cedar Shoals High School students, members of U-Lead Athens and Flanigan’s Portrait Studio.
Mokah-Jasmine Johnson will give the keynote address. Johnson is the co-founder and president of the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement and co-organizer of the Athens Hip Hop Awards and MLK Day Parade and Music Festival. As a mediator registered with the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution, Johnson facilitates difficult discussions on race, racism and public policy.
Students also will present the June Gary Hopps Bridge Award to Alejandra Calva. The award recognizes the efforts of a local individual or group in support of human rights. Calva, a graduate student in public health and social work at UGA, helped to develop Lazos Hispanos (Hispanic Links), a Latinx health worker program.
This marks the third year for the symposium, which the organizers see as a way to strengthen collaboration between the university and Athens area residents, said Septima Riley, one of the event co-chairs. The organizers plan to encourage further community engagement by holding more focused discussions and forums in the coming months.
“I’m excited about the students continuing to dig in, in terms of their commitment to the community,” said Llewellyn “Lee” Cornelius, director of the UGA Center for Social Justice, Human and Civil Rights, one of the event’s co-sponsors. “We’re really being mindful of how to enhance relationships through this symposium.”
In addition to the Center and the School of Social Work, the event is sponsored by the UGA Offices of Sustainability and Multicultural Services and Programs, Georgia United Credit Union, A Strong Hand Up and the Athens chapter of United State of Women.
The symposium will take place from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Athens, 780 Timothy Road. It is free and open to the public, but due to space limitations registration is encouraged. For more information or to register, visit the Athens Social Justice Symposium.