EMU's new Civil Rights and Social Justice Center launches speaker series on civil rights movements

Eastern Michigan University's (EMU) new Civil Rights and Social Justice Center will host its second speaker series, starting Nov. 17, with a focus on civil rights movements over time.

Barbara Patrick, professor of public administration and policy at EMU, started the center earlier this year with a mission of "building equitable and just communities across southeast Michigan." She works with an interdisciplinary team of professors to develop programming throughout the year.

Patrick says the Civil Rights and Social Justice Center is still in its pilot phase, operating on a small amount of seed money from a donor. Eventually, she'd like to have staff and a physical space for the center. The center launched its first three-part speaker series in March, focused on law enforcement and mass incarceration.

The second three-part series will focus on how the civil rights movement's tactics have changed over time from the '60s to the present. 

"I'm excited to bring in activists who were really engaged in the 1960s and can talk about how the movement was organized," Patrick says. "It's important to go back and talk about the civil rights movement of the '60s and how they organized with community centers and the church. [Then] we'll talk about social justice movements going on currently in southeast Michigan and across the nation, and how young people's activism works, especially with social media."

The first segment focuses on the movement of the '60s and is called "The Fight for Equality: A Conversation with the Elders," featuring keynote speaker Leslie McLemore, a former leader of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Additional speakers will include two Detroit-based activists.

The other two events will take place Jan. 25 and Feb. 17. The January event, called "The Price of Freedom," will feature speaker Leroy Clemons. Clemons was a child living in Philadelphia, Miss., when three civil rights workers were murdered. He spent much of his career as an activist bringing that history to light, including planning a public memorial for those civil rights workers. The event was also commemorated in a documentary called "Neshoba."

"Philadelphia had these issues in a dark past, and was never able to move on. Family members of the murderers still lived there in the 1990s," Patrick says. 

The final event in February focuses on the civil rights movements of modern times and will feature Marquee Banks, an EMU graduate and attorney who will talk about legal defense and organizing training with young members of the Black Lives Matter movement.

More information about the Civil Rights and Social Justice Center is available here. Details about the speaker series can be found 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.
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