Civil Rights Leader: Yesterday and Today – Panel
- “The U.S. Civil Rights Movement”, Anthony B. Newkirk (Philander Smith College)
Little is known, much less appreciated, today about the contributions made to the U.S. civil rights movement by Lee Lorch and his wife Grace. Because of open involvement in housing desegregation activism in New York City in the late-1940s and testimony submitted about him before the House Committee on Un-American Affairs, Lee would experience job-insecurity in institutions of higher education in the United States over the next decade. He, Grace, and their daughter Alice relocated to Canada in 1959. Before that time and after it, Lee and Grace nevertheless remained committed to civil rights work. This was arguably most apparent in Little Rock, Arkansas; Lee was a professor of mathematics at Philander Smith College and Grace came to greater public and official attention due to her actions during the desegregation crisis at Central High School. Both before and after the desegregation crisis erupted in 1957, the Lorches made themselves known to local and state authorities. This included the Little Rock School Board, the Office of the Attorney General, and the Arkansas Legislative Council. Lee was a controversial member of the executive committee of the NAACP’s Little Rock Branch. The work of the Lorches is attested to in the papers of private organizations like the Arkansas Council of Human Relations It is often assumed that the only reason why congressional investigative committees and “little HUACs” in the South were concerned about the Lorches were allegations that they belonged to the Communist Party of the United States. Like other civil rights activists, though, their wider social vision was of most concern. Throughout their lives in the United States and Canada, Lee and Grace supported labor organizing, civil liberties, and world peace. The story of the Lorches adds to a deeper understanding of the cultural and political diversity of the “long civil rights movement” in the United States.
- “From Civil Rights to Economic Human Rights: The 1968 Poor People’s Campaign & Its Legacy”, Amy Nathan Wright (St. Edwards University)
In this paper presentation, I will consider the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign (PPC), a campaign inspired by Dr. King and led by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference that produced a national, multiracial movement of poor people and their advocates. Over 3,000 blacks, whites, Latinx, and American Indians traveled in nine regional caravans to Washington, D.C. where they camped out on the National Mall for over six weeks during the summer of 1968. This multiracial group of poor people protested for an economic bill of rights with shared goals, such as a guaranteed job or income, as well as more regionally and culturally specific programs. While scholars have typically ignored or maligned the PPC, it represents a significant moment marking a shift in the Black Freedom Struggle from civil rights to multiracial economic human rights. This shift was not limited to the PPC, as proposals for a guaranteed job or income were coming from across the spectrum of Black Freedom Struggle activists from Bayard Rustin’s “Freedom Budget,” to Stokely Carmichael and Charles V. Hamilton’s Black Power, to the Black Panther Party’s “Ten-Point Platform.” However, the PPC was the most visible, extended, direct action campaign centering on the idea of a multiracial anti-poverty movement and has gone on to inspire subsequent economic human rights efforts, from long-standing organizations like the Children’s Defense Fund to more temporary campaigns, such as the Occupy movement. The PPC represents a unique and significant moment of multiracial economic activism that also amplified the burgeoning Chicano and American Indian movements. This presentation will focus on how the PPC represents this broader shift towards economic human rights and how and why the focus on multiracial economic human rights waned as the focus on identity politics rose in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In addition, I will explore the legacy of the PPC in relation to more contemporary movements, such as the Occupy Movement and Black Lives Matter.
- “Nonviolence as a Demonstration of Black Identity”, Ajanet Rountree (University of Alabama at Birmingham)
In his book, Why We Can’t Wait, King describes why 1963 proved the perfect timing for nonviolent revolution in pursuit of the freedoms and rights awarded by the Constitution. He points to the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 that guaranteed Americans of African descent were entitled to receive the same rights as Americans of European descent as citizens of this country. Rights garnered to them as creations of God, who made all men equal, yet the law and the nature of exacting justice on behalf of Blacks continued to fail 100 years later. The struggle of Black Americans under “the burden of denial” (Tutu, 2006) that rendered a deafening and paralyzing silence, and unnatural inferiority complex, had finally become too heavy. The process of attaining acknowledgment as an individual and as a race would come only as a means of exerting an unanticipated identity: nonviolent.
- “The Contributions of “Schoolhouse Activists” to the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement”, Tondra L. Loder-Jackson (University of Alabama at Birmingham)
The presenter will discuss findings from her recent book, Schoolhouse Activists: African American Educators and the Long Birmingham Civil Rights Movement. Schoolhouse Activists is the first book to examine the role that African American educators played in the Birmingham, Alabama Civil Rights Movement dating as far back as the post-Civil War and continuing into the 21st century. Drawing on multiple perspectives from education, history, and sociology, Schoolhouse Activists revisits longstanding debates about whether African American educators were friends or foes of the Civil Rights Movement, and illuminates their unique, and often clandestine, brand of activism. Schoolhouse Activists bridges the rich historical tradition of African American educational activism with pressing concerns confronting today’s educators and schools.
Environment, Ecology, Technology and Peace – Panel
- “Water, the Environment, and Peacebuilding”, Randall Amster (Georgetown University)
From the local and regional scales to the global frame, environmental challenges are coming to the fore with an escalating urgency. Interventions around water issues in particular—epitomized by the reckless contamination in Flint, and the rejection of native claims at Standing Rock—have sparked community outcries, solidarity activism, and national debates. Globally, climate change is exacerbating associated patterns of drought/flood and is increasingly viewed as a potential driver of crises, contributing to dislocations and even violent conflicts. Considerations of Environmental Justice (EJ) are central to understanding and addressing these issues, with the role of water (as an elemental/essential substance and the lifeblood of existence) being especially critical. Still, the nexus of EJ and peacebuilding remains relatively under-explored, despite growing concerns around environmental issues. Drawing upon lessons from water and food justice, we will explore the human rights implications of access to essential resources in a time of rampant change.
“Sweltering deserts & frosty prairies: community responses to migrant crossings in Arizona, USA and Manitoba, Canada”, Jodi Dueck-Read (Canadian Mennonite University)
Battling extreme temperatures in remote environments, migrants are crossing borders to survive. This paper draws on ethnographic research to explore the differences and similarities of community responses to migration in two borderland areas, Arizona, USA and Manitoba, Canada. The similarities of environments—extreme temperatures and remote/rurality stand in contrast to the different legal and military processes governing the two zones. The militarized U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona and Sonora is the site of a human rights crisis where the remains of 3,052 migrant persons have been found between 2000 and 2016 (Derechos Humanos, 2017). A transnational social movement composed of humanitarians and human rights activists act to end migrant deaths, protect human rights, and change U.S. policies impacting the region. In May 2017, the body of Mavis Otuteye, a Ghanaian woman seeking entrance into Canada was found a half kilometre south of the U.S.-Canadian border in Kittson County, Minnesota. The death of Otuteye and an increasing stream of refugees has catapulted the Canadian-U.S. border in Manitoba, Minnesota and North Dakota into a site of social activism. In Gretna, Manitoba community members provide bathroom kits, clothes, games, and food for refugees seeking protection in Canada. Examining the humanitarian responses at both borders, this paper utilizes a comparative framework to learn from the experiences of social activists working in these similar, yet contrasting, regions of migration.
“Automation & Robotics, Alternative Economic Models, & Peace”, Linda Groff (Director, Global Options and Evolutionary Futures Consulting)
Automation and robotics are threatening to create fewer jobs in future, necessitating an examination of alternative economic models, including a guaranteed minimum income for everyone in future. Various alternative economic models will be examined, including small-scale experiments thus far with a guaranteed minimum income. How does a scarcity of jobs impact peace, given that an ongoing high level of unemployment is socially-untenable? How will people’s sense of self-worth need to be re-evaluated? What could peace look like?
Histories of Peace – Panel
“‘Dear Friend’: The Practice of Nonviolence in Gandhi’s Letters to Hitler”, Kelly Rae Kraemer (Professor of Peace Studies, College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University)
At the dawn of World War II, Mohandas Gandhi wrote two separate letters to Adolf Hitler. Thought neither letter ever reached the Führer, both are readily accessible to 21st Century readers via the Internet, for whom the content of the letters may be quite surprising. Why did Gandhi address the chief Nazi as his “dear friend”? Why did he write with such profound respect and humility when addressing a man he had previously accused of “monstrous” acts? Did he really believe his appeals would persuade Hitler to end the war? This paper will examine Gandhi’s letters to Hitler as notable illustrations of the extreme lengths to which Gandhi was willing to go in his pursuit of nonviolent change.
“Margaret Walker: A Pioneer Within The Black Studies Movement”, Darius Caleb Smith
The role of African American women in large-scale movements within historical eras of American society has often been silenced, downplayed, or overlooked. It was not until recent years that historical accounts have been published focusing on the efforts of African American women during substantial movements. During the latter 1960s and throughout the 1970s, colleges across America began to implement programs centered on African American or black culture. The era that pertains to the push for curriculum based on the black experience can be described as the “Black Studies Revolution.” At Jackson State College, an audacious woman by the name of Margaret Walker joined this revolutionary era when she created the Institute for the Study of the History, Life and Culture of Black People in 1968. This research paper explores the evolution of Black Studies programs on the collegiate level, while focusing on the efforts of Dr. Walker at Jackson State College in 1968. Dr. Walker is a native of Birmingham, Alabama and notable scholar activist. Her work and service is honored today through the Margaret Walker National Research Center located on the campus of Jackson State University today.
“Faith Leads to Peace Work or Peace Work Leads to Faith”, Ellen B. Lindeen (Waubonsee Community College)
Examine the influence of the “church” (broadly speaking, but in this case the Episcopal Church) on peacemaking or the work of peace even leading to connections with faith. (So – does church or faith lead to peace work, or might peace work lead to faith?) Focus on Jonathan Daniels and Pauli Murray, both known – but not well known. Since Ruby Sales’ life was saved by Jonathan Daniels in 1965 in Alabama, and she is also a speaker at the conference, there might be interest.
The Basic and Applied Goals of Peace Ethology – Panel
Peter Verbeek & Kacey Keith (University of Alabama at Birmingham)
This session will consist of 2 presentations of 15 minutes each. These two presentations will address the basic and applied goals of Peace Ethology, the behavioral biology of peace. Humans, like many other animals, cooperate, help each other, share, and work to limit aggression and restore relationships after conflict and aggression. How and why did such peaceful behavior evolve and persist? In this presentation we discuss how the field of Peace Ethology provides new insights into causes, mechanisms, development, function, and evolution of peaceful behavior in humans and nonhuman animals. Rather than following the traditional approach to peace as a state that occurs in the absence of aggression, Peace Ethology looks at peace as behavioral process through which species, individuals, families, groups, and communities negate direct and structural violence, keep aggression in check or restore tolerance in its aftermath, maintain just institutions and equity, and engage in reciprocally beneficial and harmonious interactions. Peace Ethology focuses on peaceful behavior as it occurs in the natural habitat of the species, be it in the Amazon Rainforest or the streets of Manhattan. By taking a comparative approach Peace Ethology shows how studying the role of peaceful behavior in the survival and propagation of nonhuman animal life has direct significance for improving our understanding of the evolved abilities for peace in humans.
Peace Ethology has both basic and applied goals. From a basic science perspective Peace Ethology aims to be a constructive partner in the nascent behavioral science of peace. By promoting and sharing its specific methodological and conceptual approach Peace Ethology can help integrate existing knowledge structures and foster effective collaboration on peace among behavioral science disciplines. Peace Ethology’s applied goals include educating people from all walks of life about natural peaceful behaviors such as nonviolent conflict resolution, post-conflict reconciliation and consolation, empathy and reciprocity, and helping them with identifying and incorporating such peaceful behaviors in their daily lives. By educating about the form and function of both universally shared and culturally specific peaceful behaviors Peace Ethology aims to empower people across the globe in becoming moral agents of peace.
“A Monkey and a Tourist Walk Into a Bar: Thoughts on Peace Ethology, Ethical Tourism, and the Barbary Macaque of Morocco”, Sherrie Alexander (University of Alabama at Birmingham)
This presentation explores Barbary Macaque ethology from a multispecies perspective and changes in macaque aggression levels due to tourism. Peace ethology takes a biological approach to understanding peaceful behavior in both human and nonhuman animals and provides a means of understanding the evolutionary basis and role of aggressive verses peaceful behaviors. Nonhuman primates are often a key model in peace ethology studies and include critical studies on pro-social behaviors such as reconciliation, empathy, and cooperation. However, given the rise of human-nonhuman primate interactions worldwide, it is useful to look at human influences on wild primate peaceful verses aggressive behaviors. Throughout Morocco, the Barbary Macaque comes into contact with humans under a number of circumstances, from poaching and tourism, to researchers in the field, to shepherds grazing their flocks in spaces shared with macaques. However, more specifically, tourist behaviors have been shown to negatively influence Barbary macaque behavior despite evolved traits that reduce conflict and maintain group cohesion. Disruptions in wild Barbary macaque behavior by tourists result in stress for macaques on an individual level, increased within group conflict, and increased aggression directed at tourists. Thus, given the need to reduce conflict between humans and non-human primates for both zoonotic and conservation purposes, it is useful to examine Barbary macaque ethology in light of multispecies aggressions between humans and wild primates.
Ferguson Missouri Truth Telling Project: Online learning platform for dismantling white supremacy – Workshop
Cori Bush, Chrissi Jackson, Mark Lance
Over the last three years, following the murder of Mike Brown, Ferguson Missouri activists and educators – including PJSA board member David Ragland – developed and led the Truth Telling Project. The TTP, also supported by PJSA, is a grassroots initiative that has brought family members and close friends of black Americans killed by the police to Ferguson to tell their truth before a panel of community and national elders. http://thetruthtellingproject.org/
In addition to over 20 recorded tetimonials, many youth directly affected by police violence met in Ferguson last year to tell their stories through art. The results are numerous installation pieces and a documentary film by sisters and friends of Mick Brown. https://vimeo.com/178857519 In the last year, the TTP has developed an online learning platform, based on these testimonials, so that local communities can organize against institutional injustice and white supremacy following the lead of those most directly impacted. Guiding questions, and additional resources have been keyed to specific first-hand testimonies and geared toward helping the public understand the value of truth-telling and the importance of listening.
In this session, leaders of the TTP will walk PJSA members through this extensive resource so that they are in a position to take the work back to their own community. The TTP is guided by the principle that reconciliation must be integrated with substantive work for justice, that work for justice must be guided by a clear understanding of our situation, and that the articulation of that situation should come from those on the front lines of oppression.
Racial Justice in the Field of Conflict Resolution – Workshop
Sheherazade Jafari, Pushpa Iyer
The field of conflict resolution has grown significantly over the past several decades, developing into a multidisciplinary field with an increasing number of programs and degrees offered at universities worldwide, well-established journals and associations, and a growing cadre of graduates contributing as both scholars and practitioners in a range of fields. Yet unfortunately, not unlike many academic disciplines today, despite an increasingly diverse student body, the conflict resolution field continues to be defined by a core scholarship that is largely euro-centric and systemically white. In particular, despite important bodies of work on identity and conflict, often a serious examination of issues around racial justice is missing – or is met with uncomfortable silence. This workshop asks: what are the dangers of ignoring issues around racial justice in our conflict resolution classrooms, scholarship and practice? What would the full integration of a racial justice lens look like and bring to the field? In particular, how can we define (or redefine) the field as it continues to grow, so that it can more effectively include a racial justice lens and be genuinely relevant to the realities of its students and the communities in which they live and work?
Human Rights and Educational Practices – Roundtable
Corporal punishment in P-12 schools is legal and often encouraged in 19 of the 50 United States. While physical punishment is the most obvious form of violence, less visible is the emotional abuse that too often characterizes approaches to instruction, management, and discipline. Equally problematic are systems of structural violence that harm and disadvantage children and families by failing to meet human needs. The Convention on the Rights of the Child, along with theories of peace and violence are used to identify violent and oppressive practices that are commonly accepted in education, and to examine peaceful approaches that meet human needs and honor human rights. Critical, developmental, and social theories, along with findings from studies in neuroscience, are used to explore and contrast the effects of both violent and peaceful practices on students and implications for society. Attendees are encouraged to engage in critical dialogue related to violence in education and peaceful alternatives. Discussion includes generating ideas for informing educators, families, community members, and policy-makers and engaging them to challenge the status quo and transform educational environments by developing an ethos of peaceful practice that supports all children and has a positive social impact.
Student Professor/Professional Interactions – Roundtable
Brendan Newman, Emma Belanger, Kate Wisniewski, Tori Cheffer, Glynis Lonnemann, Michael Loadenthal
During the last semester 6 students at Miami University in Oxford Ohio have been doing an independent study under Miami University faculty member Dr. Michael Loadenthal. We are submitting a proposal to present at your conference. We are interested in facilitating a roundtable discussion about effective professor and student communication and interactions.
Throughout this semester we have been working with many professors and prominent members in PJSA. Through the projects that we have been working on and the communications we have had, we have gone from these people seeing us as just students in a hierarchy to being more of a colleague working for the same peace and justice goals. Through our discussion we want to empower other students to do something they are passionate and ask professors for help in doing so. Our discussion will also be for professors. We hope to show how to communicate and interact. How to not treat students as below you but how to empower them with the knowledge that they have. We also want to discuss how to effectively bring students into peace and justice research.
Michele Forman, Director, UAB Media Studies Program
Non-fiction filmmaking and oral history courses offered at UAB use hands on digital media practice to connect students with community members and learn about a range of justice issues in the Greater Birmingham, Alabama, region. The session will provide case studies and practical lessons in oral history and multimedia production. (HSC Alumni Theater)