Fielding Has a Visible Presence at The Justice Conference
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Reported by Monique L. Snowden, PhD, vice president for academic services at Fielding Graduate University
Fielding recently returned to the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles, CA where we sponsored the International Positive Aging Conference in 2010, 2011, and 2013. This time, however, we were at the fourth annual Justice Conference promoting Fielding student, faculty and alumni’s justice work and recruiting prospective students for our academic programs.
The conference included a lineup of plenary speakers, musical and spoken word artists, and discussion panelists. Nearly 2,000 conference attendees, sponsors and exhibitors packed the theater for each scheduled speaker, artist and panelist. In between talks and performances, the main lobby, mezzanine lobby, stairways and exhibitor areas were buzzing with rich dialogue about the “work” represented and inspired by those on agenda and attending the Justice Conference.
Many conference attendees, plenary speakers, panelists, artists and exhibitors came into and do justice work for reasons not shared by all and are grounded by doctrines not held by all. Differences in personal motivations or beliefs notwithstanding, those whom the Fielding delegation engaged in conversation shared our university’s vision to create a more humane, just and sustainable world. By way of our institutional values and demonstrable justice work we attracted interest in both our academic offerings and partnership opportunities with organizations in attendance like Memphis Teacher Residency (MTR). MTR proclaims that “Urban Education is the Greatest Social Justice and Civil Rights Issue in America Today.”
Bryan A. Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, an Alabama-based group delivered a powerful message. Mr. Stevenson and his EJI colleagues have won major legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerating innocent prisoners on death row, confronting abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally-ill, and aiding children prosecuted as adults.
Conference attendees were consistently reminded that justice work is intensive and extensive. As one conference speaker advised, to do our best justice work, we must manage our egos, exhaustion and emotional toxicity. We must remain humble in our work, take time to rejuvenate our spirits and re-energize our bodies, and balance our passion with necessary discipline and focus. We must keep top of mind that the difficult and never-ending fight for justice is not one that merely involves lifting up and comforting those who need resources and services.
Justice work requires us to stand with the poor, fight beside the condemned, and dwell amongst the vulnerable. We must see and hold ourselves accountable as one people who are global citizens of interrelated communities, states, countries, and continents. Slain humanitarian and civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. left us with a timeless justice credo, “We are bound by an inescapable garment of mutuality, whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
For more information about The Justice Conference, click here: http://thejusticeconference.com/