Social Justice Summit Spurs Students to Action

Junior Mandy Byrd designed the “No Justice Without Action” logo for T-shirts, buttons, stickers and posters.

The James Farmer Multicultural Center hosted a virtual Social Justice and Leadership Summit in October. The fourth such summit, and the first held on Zoom, brought together UMW students, local high school and community college students, UMW faculty, and guest speakers to the gathering themed “No Justice Without Action.” The summit website said it gave participants “the chance to build coalitions across cultural barriers, strengthen advocacy, and promote a more equitable culture and climate at UMW and in American society.”

Investigative journalist and bestselling author Greg Palast and UMW Disability Resources Director Jessica Machado delivered keynote addresses.

Palast has broken front-page stories for BBC Television Newsnight, The Guardian, Nation Magazine, and Rolling Stone Magazine. Drawing on decades of reporting on voter suppression, he spoke on the role young people could play in the November election, including serving as poll workers.

In recognition of UMW’s observance of Disability Awareness Month in October and the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Machado shared challenges experienced by the community she serves. The Office of Disability Resources provides resources, accommodations, and access to 12 percent of the UMW student population.

President Troy Paino and Vice President of Student Affairs Juliette Landphair opened the summit with a welcome to participants. Associate Professor of English Danny Tweedy, Professor of Political Science Melissa Martinez, Assistant Professor of Historic Preservation Christine Henry, and Associate Professor of Sociology Eric Bonds lead breakout sessions with smaller groups throughout the day, focusing on systemic racism, the plight of undocumented immigrants, housing injustice, the climate crisis, and more.

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