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Annual social justice symposium hosted at Bowen

Submitted by KenDrell Collins on November 20, 2013 – 11:32 amNo Comment

Photo by KenDrell Collins

A host of community leaders, political activists and professors gathered together at the William H. Bowen School of Law to offer insights on how to spark social change on Friday, Nov. 8.

The Second Annual Symposium, called Catalyst for Change, was hosted by the Arkansas Journal of Social Change and Public Policy. It was an all-day affair that began at 9 a.m. with a general overview of the social change that is needed in our state by Rev. Steve Copley. During the following hour, Stephanie Harris led a discussion on non-profit work. She emphasized the emerging female role in various professional sectors.

Later, around 11 a.m., a panel of grassroots organizers gathered together to talk about how their particular organizations work to promote social change. Panel member, Tony Orr, the state director of Arkansas Community Organization and United Local Unions Local 100 explained how his team’s efforts extend to various regions throughout the state.

Jerry Cox, president and founder of Arkansas Family Council said that one purpose of his organization is to influence public policy by lobbying for legislation. He cited Amendment 68 to the Arkansas Constitution, which prevents publically funded abortions, as one of the major accomplishments of Arkansas Family Council.

Paul Spencer, founder and co-chair of Regnat Populus, said there is a need for well-directed social organizing. Spencer cited the Occupy Movement, saying though it had tremendous energy and momentum, it did not seem to have clear goals. A grassroots organization must be organized and it must pursue an issue that people truly care about, he said.

Representing Occupy Little Rock, Rev. Marie Maniford said, “Even though Occupy, as a national movement, ended up folding a little bit, I would say it’s evolving.” Now, smaller groups of occupiers are focusing on particular interests, Maniford said.

Lastly, Debbie Standiford, who spoke for the Libertarian Party, talked about the party’s plea for “more freedom and smaller government.”

After a lunch break, the symposium reconvened with a panel that discussed the development of South Main and surrounding neighborhoods.

At 2 p.m., another group of panelists discussed cause lawyering.  Students who attended the one-hour panel received a free CLE credit. A second credit was available to those who attended the final lecture about using interpreters in the courtroom.  The Hispanic Law Student Association at Bowen co-sponsored the event.


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