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Think Tank—“Educating for Struggle: State Violence Then and Now”

Internationally renowned activist and scholar Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and National Book Award-winner Ibram Kendi will deliver the keynote lectures for the Social Justice Institute’s fourth biennial intergenerational Think Tank, “Educating for Struggle: State Violence Then and Now.”

All conference events take place at the Tinkham Veale University Center.

The conference begins Thursday, Nov. 16, at 7 p.m., with a screening of the documentary film Wounded Knee, with a discussion to follow. This film by Stanley Nelson tells the story of the American Indian Movement activists and residents of the Pine Ridge Reservation who occupied the town of Wounded Knee in 1973, demanding redress for grievances. As a result of the siege, American Indians across the country forged a new path into the future.

Dunbar-Ortiz will present “The Genocidal Foundation of the United States” Friday, Nov. 17, at 7 p.m., and Kendi will present “State Violence and the Antiracist Struggle” Saturday, Nov. 18, at 9:30 a.m.

Following Kendi’s remarks, local and national thought leaders will participate in two plenaries and five breakout sessions that address issues, ranging from environmental justice (such as water, lead and housing concerns), indigenous rights, immigration, incarceration and other topics.

The first plenary session at 1 p.m. will feature:

  • Frank Abe, writer/producer of the PBS film Conscience and the Constitution;
  • John Flores, associate professor of history at CWRU;
  • Kim Foreman, executive director of Environmental Health Watch; and
  • Guy Jones, executive director of The Miami Valley Council for Native Americans.

At 2:45 pm, conference participants will choose between five breakout sessions:

  • “Direct Impact: Homelessness and the Flint Lead Crisis,” with Debra Hayes, executive director of My Brother’s Keeper of Genesee County, Michigan;
  • “Police and Criminal Justice Reform: The Search for Reason and Common Sense,” with attorney Terry H. Gilbert;
  • “La Lucha Sigue como Siempre (The Struggle Continues like Always): Global Solidarity through Indigenous Resistance,” with Christine Stonebraker-Martinez, co-director of the InterReligious Task Force on Central America;
  • “Setting the Stage for Social Change: How to Tackle ‘Legacy’ Problems and Make an Impact,” with The Plain Dealer journalists Brie Zeltner and Rachel Dissell; and
  • “Threats to National Security? Systems that Exploit Immigrant Workers,” with Veronica Isabel Dahlberg, executive director of HOLA Ohio.

At 4 p.m., the second plenary session will feature:

  • Timothy S. Black, Social Justice Institute interim director and associate professor of sociology;
  • Jessie Hill, associate dean for academic affairs of the CWRU School of Law; and
  • Rhonda Y. Williams, the John L. Siegenthaler Chair in American History at Vanderbilt University.

The Think Tank will close Saturday, Nov. 18, at 7:30 p.m., with “HASHTAG: Your Phrase Here,” the debut presentation by Theatre Artists for Social Change, a collaboration between Karamu House and Dobama Theatre. This curated evening of performance art includes theater, dance, poetry and music, and grapples with society’s varied responses to horrific events and how we maintain strength, vitality and joy in the midst of them.

All events are free and open to the community.

Registration is requested and available online.

For more information, call the Social Justice Institute at 216.368.7568 or visit