On February 24, 2016, Hofstra’s Center for Civic Engagement and Cultural Center presented Civil Rights Day to the community. This year’s theme was “Civil Rights and Wrongs,” with performances, screenings, and dialogues ranging across a variety of social justice issues we face as a society today.
The day kicked off with a Know Your Rights slam poetry session around the meaning of human and civil rights with reflections by Professor Jonathan Lightfoot and CCE’s own Professor Greg Maney. The events that followed zoomed in on current social justice issues facing state and national communities today. We discussed #OscarsSoWhite and the lack of diversity in the American film industry with some of Hofstra’s own Communications faculty. A screening of the documentary Invitation to Dance revealed the experiences of people with disabilities and prompted important questions about how well we as a society protect their rights. The Robben Island Bible Performance by Hofstra’s Theater Department followed, dramatically highlighting the story of political prisoners in the struggle for a democratic South Africa.
Policy issues were also explored in the last few events of Civil Rights Day. New York and the Women’s Equality Act assessed the state of gender inequality in the workplace. Hofstra’s Title IX Coordinator Lara Nochomovitz and Distinguished Professor of Family Law Joanne Grossman armed listeners with legal information about what kinds of gender discrimination is still legal today. Also, the conversation Trans-migration and US Immigration Practices discussed an overlap between the two concerns of transgender rights and immigration. This panel enlightened the audience about U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deportation practices and the unique experiences of transgendered individuals in these issues.
The day wrapped up with The Water Crisis in Flint: Environmental Justice, Systemic Racism, and Civil Rights. We were very fortunate to have two speakers from Flint, Michigan come to lead a discussion with the Hofstra community about the violation of human rights taking place from public water severely contaminated with heavy metals in Flint. Marseille Allen, the founder of Water for Flint, and Dr. Kent Key from the Michigan Institute for Clinical & Health Research addressed a packed room on the underlying issues of environmental racism and the importance of listening to the community voice. Former CCE Graduate Assistant Nuzhat Quaderi of ERASE Racism discussed the future implications of these issues for Long Island.
We certainly met our goal to educate and empower the community with this broad range of events around civil rights. Thank you to all who helped out in making this day possible and all those who attended!
If you missed Civil Rights Day 2016, keep a look out for CCE’s other upcoming events including Globalization Day (Tuesday, March 15th) and Earth Day (Wednesday, April 20th).