Over 500 students, artists, scholars, and activists from across the globe gathered on campus this past weekend for the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership (ACSJL) “With/Out ¿Borders?” conference. The four-day event focused around issues of social justice in a global context.
“We are here to engage in what I hope is an act of beauty,” academic director Lisa Brock said. “When we think about justice, I want for us to think about it not in an isolated way, but in a transnational way—that is my hope for this conference.”
The event kicked off with the “Thursday Think Tank” sessions on topics like racial profiling, human rights in Latin America, and undocumented and immigrant youth, which were all led by prominent social justice leaders. Attendees reconvened at an evening plenary session to review the discussions of the think tanks.
Friday’s program featured the U.S. premiere of the film Hearing Radmilla, as well as a poetry reading and discussion with Nikki Finney, recipient of the National Book Award for Poetry, and Keorapetse “Willie” Kgositsile, former poet laureate of South Africa.
Other key events included performances by world-renowned activist and performance artist Guillermo Gómez-Peña and “Critical Solidarities: The Palestinian Question,” a panel led by scholars Angela Y. Davis, Alex Lubin, Saree Makdisi, Lynn Pollack, and Robin D.G. Kelley.
The conference ended with a session titled “Justice Rising: New Youth & Student Movements,” where young activists analyzed current issues and discussed their personal projects and initiatives.
The weekend’s programs received widely positive feedback from Kalamazoo College students who were in attendance. “This is a window into so many key issues,” Olivia Gaines ’18 said of the conference. “I’m meeting young people, walking into conversations that are applicable right now.”