Women of Color Feminisms and Leadership Symposium in Ypsilanti to feature keynote by #MeToo founder

Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement, will give the keynote speech at Eastern Michigan University's (EMU) fourth annual Women of Color Feminisms and Leadership Symposium. This year's theme is "Reimagining, Rebuilding, and Recreating Ourselves as Women of Color."


The free, two-day virtual symposium takes place from 1-5 p.m. March 16-17.

Bre McKamie, coordinator of EMU's Center of Race and Ethnicity (CORE) and co-organizer of the symposium, says she and other organizers came up with the "reimagining and rebuilding" theme after discussing how the COVID-19 pandemic had highlighted civil rights issues in communities of color.


"Women of color are the glue for Black Lives Matter and civil rights movement. We've always been there, but not always been able to get the credit we deserve or getting compensated," McKamie says. "We need to understand how this leads to burnout in all aspects of our lives, and how we can take that back and take care of ourselves first."


McKamie hopes the virtual format will help the symposium reach a larger audience this year.


"It's not just focused on Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor, but we hope to get folks to attend from all over the country," she says.


Participants will have an opportunity to ask Burke a question in the registration form, McKamie says, and organizers hope to provide time for questions and answers with all speakers and panelists.


Day one of the event kicks off with Burke's keynote speech, in which she will discuss the story behind the #MeToo movement, which allows women to share and heal from their experiences with sexual trauma or harassment.


Next up will be a talk by Mariel Buque, a psychologist who will talk about women of color's experiences with intergenerational trauma and ways to build resilience. The first day will conclude with a talk by Christina Castro, co-founder of Three Sisters Collective, a grassroots organization centering Indigenous women's stories. Castro will talk about the ongoing effects of colonialism on native people in the U.S.


Day two of the symposium will center on activism and "radical self-care," spotlighting five women activists doing work locally and across the U.S.: Yodit Mesfin Johnson, president and CEO of Ann Arbor-based Nonprofit Enterprise at Work (NEW); Trisché Duckworth, executive director of Ypsilanti-based Survivors Speak; Nada Al-Hanooti, community organizer in Southeast Michigan; Mariah Bermeo, co-founder of Veggie Mijas; and student activist Yvonne Navarrete-Castaneda.


The work of local poets and a local DJ will be featured during breaks throughout the symposium. The first day will feature music by Ypsilanti-based DJ LiXxer and a poetry performance by EMU alum Tatiaira Herndon, nationally known for her collection of poetry called "The Blacker the Berry, the Deeper Her Blues." The second day, the symposium will feature a poetry reading by local writer Ife Martin.


The second day will wrap up with a panel on next steps and how participants can take lessons learned back to their communities.


More information and registration are available here.

Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the project manager of On the Ground Ypsilanti. She joined Concentrate as a news writer in early 2017 and is an occasional contributor to other Issue Media Group publications. You may reach her at sarahrigg1@gmail.com.