From schools to streets: CWRU’s 2013 Social Justice Think Tank examines justices and injustices found

News Release: Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Keynote speeches by prominent poet and activist Sonia Sanchez and author Maytha Alhassen will headline the Case Western Reserve University Social Justice Institute’s 2013 Intergenerational Think Tank, “Educating for Struggle: In the Academy, Schools, Prisons and Streets.”

The two-day event begins Friday, Nov. 15 in Thwing Student Center, 11111 Euclid Ave., Cleveland. Sanchez and Alhassen will present on “The Struggle: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow.” Doors open at 5 p.m. The keynote lecture and dialogue begins at 6 p.m.

The event also will feature an evening performance-talk by hip-hop emcee and community activist Jasiri X on Saturday, Nov. 16, in Thwing Center. His performance-talk begins at 4:45 p.m.

The conference is free and open to the public, and lunch will be provided, but seating is limited. Registration is required by calling 216.368.7568 or visiting

In addition to the keynote speakers, the conference will offer three plenary sessions, featuring national and local scholars, advocates, and grassroots activists who will explore the justices and injustices manifested in various aspects of society during the Saturday program:

• “In the Academy,” (10-11:30 a.m.) with Lisa Brock, academic director of Kalamazoo College’s Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership; Donte Hilliard, assistant dean and director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Multicultural Student Center; H.L.T. Quan, Arizona State University’s School of Social Transformation; and Rhonda Y. Williams, founder and director of Case Western Reserve’s Social Justice Institute.

• “In the Prisons,” (1:15-2:45 p.m.) with Dan Berger, assistant professor in Comparative Ethnic Studies at the University of Washington; Kali N. Gross, associate professor in African-American women’s history at the University of Texas-Austin; Damian Calvert, a returning citizen and re-entry advocate for prisoners; and Emeline Liu, an undergraduate student and New Abolitionists representative at Case Western Reserve.

• “In the Schools,” (3-4:30 p.m.) with Pauline Lipman, professor of educational policy studies at the University of Illinois-Chicago; Matthew Cregor from NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s “Dignity in Schools” program; Shay Schearer, parent activist with the Ohio Communities United/Parent Action Committee in Cleveland; and Alexis Crosby, student advocate with SJI’s Power UP! and a CWRU alumnae.

Headline speakers’ bios:

Sonia Sanchez

The award-winning writer wears many hats—poet, mother, professor, national and international lecturer on Black Culture and literature, women’s liberation, peace and racial justice. She has taken her message to more than 500 universities here and abroad.

An author of 16 books, among her notable works are Homecoming, We a BaddDDD People, Love Poems, I’ve been a Woman, A Sound Investment and Other Stories, and her most recent Morning Haiku (2010). She has been the recipient of numerous awards: the National Endowment for the Arts, the Lucretia Mott Award (1984), Outstanding Arts Award from the Pennsylvania Coalition of 100 Black Women, the Freedom Award from Women International League for Peace and Freedom (1989), the Poetry Society of America’s 2001 Robert Frost Medalist and many more honors.

Maytha Alhassen

Alhassen has worked to connect her worlds of activism, social justice, community organizing, academic and the arts through programs such as Dr. Manning Marble’s Malcolm X Project, and creative literacy workshops with youth imprisoned at Rikers Island through Blackout Arts Collective and Lyrics on Lockdown campaign. She has organized a Hip Hop Festival in Riker Island’s high school and wrote the introduction for “One Mic,” an anthology of art and poetry created by incarcerated students.

Currently a doctoral student in American Studies and ethnicity at the University of Southern California, she finds time to speak, perform and co-host and assist in producing “Book Reading, I Speak form Myself” on ART/Arab Radio & Television. She also regularly tours with a play production about American Muslim stories called, “Hijabi Monologues.” She is the co-editor of Demanding Dignity: Young Voices from the Front Lines of the Arab Revolutions.

Jasiri X

This hip-hop artist’s resume includes performances with Wu-Tang, Redman, Xzibit, Foxy Brown and Kool Keith. His talents have been featured in numerous Pittsburgh media from print to radio and nationally in Playback. He is also president of LYRICS inc. (Leading Young Rappers in Career Success) that reaches out to today’s youth through the language of Hip-Hop.

In his first try as a participant in Poetry Slam, hosted by rap artist KRS-One, he made it to the finals. He performs at various open mic venues and was honored by the United States Federal Executive Board for his homage to the 100th anniversary of The Souls of Black Folks.

Currently, he is working on his first CD, “I Got that X,” with legendary Gran Arkitech of X-Clan, Paradise Gray.

Posted by: Susan Griffith, October 23, 2013 01:22 PM | News Topics: Official Release