Caitlin Dorsch ~ Co-Editor in Chief
On Friday, Jan. 24, and Saturday, Jan. 25, the 6th Annual Race, Poverty, and Social Justice Conference will be held on the campus of the University of Lynchburg.
In an email from Dr. Sharon Foreman, the University of Lynchburg’s Director of General Education and of the Center for Community Development of Social Justice and Department Chair for Sociology & Human Services, to all undergraduate students at the University of Lynchburg, it was stated that, “In partnership with the Many Voices One Community organization,” the University of Lynchburg is proud to host Friday’s event in the Memorial Ballroom in the Hall Campus Center will begin with a Networking and Reception Session at 6:30 p.m. closely followed by a Panel Discussion by college students in the area at 7 p.m.; it is free and open to the public. Saturday’s event will take place in Schewel Hall from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and consist of two speakers who are prominent in the diversity and human rights fields, Dr. Janice Underwood, who will be the Morning Plenary Speaker, and Ms. Ruby Sales, who will be the Keynote Speaker. It costs $35 to register for this event with registration beginning at 8 a.m. However, both events for Friday and Saturday are free for all students who bring a student ID.
Leslie King, the lead planner for this event, is a practitioner and Equity and Engagement Consultant for the Lynchburg community who remarked that, “This conference is probably the most diverse event that occurs in Lynchburg.”
King has worked tirelessly along with Dr. Foreman and other University faculty members and volunteers in the Lynchburg community to set up this event.
King spoke highly about her partnership with the University in hosting this event when she said, “It is important to note that we are a volunteer organization that consists of her and a committee of people that is supported immensely by the University of Lynchburg that really is a true partnership.”
There are three main goals of the conference: conversation, connections, and networking. King said, “The conference is an opportunity to have a conversation about race, poverty, and other social justice issues, including LGBTQ+ and gender. This year’s theme is ‘Uprising: Organizing for Justice in America,’ and, ultimately, the keynote speaker [Rudy Sales] is going to speak to that message to organize and create positive change everywhere, whether that no matter where you are or where you come from.” Dr. Foreman added, “One hope of the conference is to inspire college students and individuals of the Lynchburg community to begin to create and continue their advocacy in issues that they find of interest to them, so the networking opportunity for this conference is a really impactful addition this year.”
King goes even further to note that, “Local expertise around these issues and increase awareness for these issues and be able to articulate and understand these issues. Bring community and work with each to connect over these issues and how to address them organically [similar to a class-like, safe dialogue]. Anyone who has an interest in these issues are welcome to come.”
Dr. Foreman was excited to mention that, “Something new this year is to provide space for conversation between college students. And, the Friday night Panel is really geared towards college students and advocacy for these issues on a college campus.”
King stressed the addition of many facets of race, poverty, and social justice topics, including a presentation by Dr. Underwood, who will speak about “indigenous people and the importance of honoring the land that we are on.”
King added that, “The conference is the work. It is part of being able to bring issues of equity and race forward because we are creating a platform for people to share in ways that people may not have been able to share before and bringing community togetherness in the process.
Dr. Foreman “uses the word ‘transformative’ as a personal reflection” regarding her time on a panel with King and for University Professor Emerita Carolyn E. Gross for this event a few years ago, and as a result, “it is the work and it propelled me to take more roles in the community and collaborating more within the community. And, I think that is the essence of this conference.”
For more information and to register for this conference, please go to http://www.mvocva.com