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19th Annual Woodrow Wilson School Students and Alumni of Color Symposium

Seizing the Moment: Social Activism and Policy-Making in the Wake of Ferguson

March 28-29, 2015


"The burden belongs to the nation, and the hands of none of us are clean if we bend not our energies to righting these great wrongs." 

- W.E.B Du Bois


On August 9, 2014, Ferguson Missouri added a heartbreaking chapter to an already tragic story that includes Emmet Till, Tanisha Anderson, Rodney King, Trayvon Martin, Rekia Boyd, Tarika Wilson, Jordan Davis, Renisha McBride, Eric Garner, and many, many more.  On this fateful day, yet another young life was taken at the hands of authorities.  Michael Brown, 18 years old, was shot and killed by Officer Darren Wilson.  To further our pain, 3 months later on November 24, a grand jury would fail to indict Officer Wilson, denying the opportunity to investigate what happened.

Hands Up. Don't Shoot. No trial. No justice.

Outrage and frustration have filled streets across the nation as people continue to demand justice behind the rallying call #blacklivesmatter.  But as the smoke from protests across the country fade, how do we channel our outrage into action? 

Our gathering this year will bring students, alumni, and community members together to grapple with the question, "how do we seize this moment of racial consciousness and advance justice for communities of color across the nation?"  We will begin with a day of learning and inspiration by engaging with experts in the midst of building a movement for racial equity, from activists in Ferguson to policy advocates pushing for more equitable solutions in cities across the country.  On day two, current students and alumni will break out into an intimate space to discuss how current and future policymakers can continue supporting one another in our fight for justice.  We will end with alumni helping map the way forward for the WWS community and beyond. 

Our call to action to all participants is simple:  how will you seize the moment through social activism and policymaking and contribute to advancing racial justice in your community?