The Social Justice Academy (SJA)

The Social Justice Academy will help expand students’ tool kits in identifying and addressing systems of oppression so they might recognize and utilize their own capital to help bring about positive change.

Using the tools of reflection, introspection, analysis, and action SJA workshops will:

  • Invite students to deepen their approach to social justice work
  • Help students to locate themselves in the work
    • Provide context, foundation, and an entry-point for students who are new to the work
    • For students with prior advocacy work, connect those experiences with work to be done at Emerson and beyond
  • Build on students’ strengths and talents and experiences so they might channel their energy into action
  • Build a community of social justice practitioners at Emerson who will engage and mobilize in social change
  • Promote radical self-care as critical to successful social justice activism

2019 Social Justice Academy

Topic: Intersectional Feminism

Creating The Mammy Diaries presented by Valerie Stephens

“It's an artist's duty to reflect the times in which we live.” - Nina Simone 

When I saw myself as an artist, I also felt the power and responsibility of that title.  Creating THE MAMMY DIARIES has been an unexpected personal and collective journey. From my youth,  when calling a Black girl Mammy was a painful insult and seeing blackface on TV made you hang your head in embarrassingly, shameful acceptance to now when there is still a lingering firebrand of emotion for both.  What is the price of assimilation? What is the sacrifice for acceptance? THE MAMMY DIARIES is my attempt to explore a portion of that racially traumatic enigma through finding the complex truth surrounding Mammy. This creative process has been full of unexpected enlightenments and personal growth. It is an unadorned social commentary on the real, fictional and commercial caricature of Mammy. The representation of this happy, servile and desexualized maternal figure has endured in American popular culture since the defeated South’s Lost Cause Movement.  From the romanticized obedient mammy in 1939’s Gone With the Wind, to the more recent portrayal of domestic workers in 2011’s The Help, she is embedded into the American social tapestry.

Arts in Action Workshop

Presented by Taina Asili, co-presented with Emerson POWER (Protesting Oppression With Educational Reform)

Taina Asili will offer tools to utilize art in our organizing efforts. From performance arts, to sign and banner making, to video and photography, art has the potential to make our movements more visible and potent. In this interactive workshop, Taina will share strategies for making participant’s organizing efforts more imaginative, engaging and vibrant.

Maimouna Youssef AKA Mumu Fresh Keynote Address 

With opening poems by Porsha Olayiwiola, Boston’s Poet Laureate and Emerson Graduate Student

Grammy-nominated musician & activist Maimouna Youssef will deliver the keynote address for Emerson's 2019 Social Justice Academy. Youssef, also known as Mumu Fresh, is an Afro-Native singer, songwriter, emcee, activist, & educator. She has performed all over the world with artists such as Common, The Roots, Sting, Erykah Badu, Ed Sheeran, & Nas. Youssef became a musical ambassador for the United States in 2017 & traveled throughout Central America performing & facilitating workshops. She is committed to what she describes as “art activism,” and has performed numerous times in U.S. prisons. She works with a wide variety of organizations, including the Congressional Black Caucus and W.K. Kellogg Foundation, to bring awareness to important social issues.

2018 Social Justice Academy

Topic: Hip-Hop Artivism

Movement Building Strategies Rooted In the Elements [of Hip-Hop]

Workshop presented by Dr. Sabrina Kwist, Dean of Equity and Inclusion at Los Medanos College, co-founder and organizer of Bay Area Annual Hip-Hop for Change Conference; AND Ben Ortiz, Assistant Curator of the Cornell Hip-Hop Archive

Keynote Lecture

Delivered by Chuck Creekmur, co-founder and co-CEO. co-founder and co-CEO Chuck “Jigsaw” Creekmur has combined his outstanding journalism skills, artistic talents, and ability to envision the future to establish himself as a trendsetter and trailblazer creating a unique path in Internet content and technology. 

As a cultural critic and pundit, Chuck's been featured in VIBE, The Source, Complex, GIANT and has been featured on National Public Radio (NPR), BET, TVOne, VH1, The E! Channel, MTV, The O’Reilly Factor, USA Today, The New York Times, New York’s Hot 97 FM and numerous other outlets.

2017 Social Justice Academy

Topic: Community Organizing and Campaign Building

Campaign Building

Workshop presented by MASSCreative