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Free speech

The Mario Savio Social Justice Program honors and celebrates the moral courage, critical spirit, and vision of Mario Savio and countless other activists of his generation. Throughout his life, Mario struggled to advance human rights, social justice, economic and environmental justice, and freedom of expression. This program supports and encourages student activism that is engaged in the struggle towards building a more humane and just society.

Journey Towards Justixe

Journeys Toward Justice: Spring 2021

This multi-university collaboration highlights changemakers from around the country driving justice and equity forward. Join us for 12 virtual journeys (90-minutes via Zoom) connecting students, partners, and communities with one another. Take some time this spring break to explore the local and historical contexts of social justice issues and the work communities are doing. 
Register for one or more sessions here.

Disrupting the Lost Cause Narrative: Protest and Healing in the Capital of the Confederacy

Tuesday, March 23, 3:00-4:30 pm PT
Hosted by the University of Richmond’s Bonner Center for Civic Engagement 
Speakers: Lauranett Lee, Historian & Member of the Monument Avenue Commission, and Brian Palmer, Peabody Award-Winning Journalist

In 1890, a 21-foot-high statue of Robert E. Lee, the first Confederate on what became Monument Avenue, was installed in Richmond, Virginia. Four other monuments on the avenue, symbols of Lost Cause ideals, came down this past summer after protesters took to the streets. Today, the Lee Monument is the last Confederate monument standing due to current litigation – but it has been transformed by paint and community activism. Dr. Lauranett Lee, historian and member of the Monument Avenue Commission, and Brian Palmer, Peabody Award-winning journalist, will speak about memorialization, protest, and healing in the former Capital of the Confederacy. University of Richmond students studying Monumental Change with Dr. Nicole Maurantionio, associate professor of rhetoric and communications studies, will then lead us in conversation.

Border Stories: Immigration and Humanitarian Work

Friday, March 26, 3:00-4:30pm PT
Hosted by Harvard’s Center for Public Service and Engaged Scholarship
Speakers: Lauren Kostes, Managing Attorney, Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project; Vivekae Kim, Co-Founder, Stories from the Border; Meena Venkataramanan, Co-Founder, Stories from the Border

Stories about border walls, migrant caravans, and family separations have made national news headlines in recent years, but what does justice look like for the 33,000 migrants that were detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in prisons and private facilities this past year?  During this session, Lauren Kostes, Managing Attorney at the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project along with Meena Venkataramanan and Vivekae Kim, co-founders of Stories from the Border, will share their perspectives on the multitude of challenges facing undocumented immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in Arizona.  Students will learn about advocacy and human rights efforts through legal and journalistic frameworks.

Ending the Incarceration Cycle: Finding your Role in Local Communities

Tuesday, March 30, 3:00-4:30pm PT
Hosted by Yale Dwight Hall Center for Public Service and Social Justice
Speakers: Maurice Keitt, EMERGE Supervisor/Peer Mentor; Tabari Hashim, Assistant Supervisor and former crewmember at EMERGE; and EMERGE Executive Director Alden Woodcock

Yale undergraduates and graduate students regularly partner with local reentry nonprofit and social enterprise EMERGE Connecticut, Inc., located in the Wooster Square neighborhood of New Haven, CT. Whether through volunteer projects, semester-long internships, or employment, Yale students have learned immensely from supporting EMERGE’s unique, trauma-informed reentry model. This panel conversation on an EMERGE-Yale network confronting the effects of mass incarceration on communities will feature Maurice Keitt, a former Yale employee and now EMERGE Supervisor/Peer Mentor; Tabari Hashim, Assistant Supervisor and former crewmember at EMERGE; and EMERGE Executive Director Alden Woodcock.

Speak Their Names

Wednesday, March 31, 3:00-4:30 pm PT
Hosted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Carolina Center for Public Service
Speakers: Jim Leloudis and Patricia Parker, Co-Chairs of the UNC Commission on History, Race and a Way Forward

The University Commission on History, Race, and a Way Forward at UNC-Chapel Hill was formed in 2019 and formally charged by the Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz in February of 2020 to “explore, engage and teach the University’s history with race, and provide recommendations on how we as a University community must reckon with the past.” Over the past year, its 19 members have been re-examining the University’s legacy regarding race, including structures built by enslaved people on indigenous lands and named for slaveholders, Confederates and white supremacists. Along with other work, the Commission has initiated the process for the removal of the names of four white supremacists from University buildings, which was approved by the Board of Trustees; begun preparing for the recommendations for the removal of additional names to be presented to the chancellor; and created a roster of more than 150 enslaved people who built and maintained the University. In this session participants will learn more about the Commission’s work in identifying those enslaved people, exploring the history and seeing the archival records used in their work.

Confronting the Past: Stanford University and Its Fraught History with the Ohlone and Chinese

Tuesday, April 6, 3:00-4:30pm PT
Hosted by Stanford Haas Center for Public Service

The Stanford University campus, comprising over 8,100 acres, was once home to an estimated 10,000 Muwekma-Ohlone Indians living in small communities throughout the Bay Area. Understanding of the history of Stanford University, and the land upon which it sits, is deeply contested and has far-reaching implications for how we see the institution today. As an institution that stands for humanistic values, it must contend with troubling elements in its past that profoundly challenge those values and hinder the development of the University as fully inclusive and welcoming. Our talks will present new insights into the lands of Stanford, the Stanford family and early University, and the institution’s relationship with Native peoples, Chinese, and other communities that were long excluded from the traditional narrative of the rise of the University.

Mapping Social Justice Movements in Durham 

Wednesday, April 7, 3:00-4:30pm PT
Hosted by Duke Civic Engagement

This virtual tour is about what protests and social justice activism have looked like in Durham, NC. This tour will reflect on how power structures related to race, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, class, and ability have oppressed groups in the past and present. Together, we’ll get a chance to examine what effective activists have done, such as using their political power, providing financial resources, or raising awareness, to aid the activism efforts against structural discrimination. Everyone will be invited to reflect on their personal experience with activism and how we might deconstruct these harmful power structures.

The Real Montgomery Bus Boycott

Friday, April 9, 3:00-4:30pm PT 
Hosted by Brown Swearer Center for Public Service
Speaker: Marco McWililams, a public scholar, published writer, and activist with nearly two decades of engaged scholarship work in convening diverse learning communities

Marco McWilliams is an educator and public scholar of African-American history and is currently a program coordinator at Brown University’s Swearer Center for Public Service. McWilliams is a Mississippi-born activist, educator, and is the founding organizer and former deputy director of the Providence Africana Reading Collective (PARC). He is also a founding director of the Black Studies program at DARE, and an organizer with Behind the Walls, DARE’s prison abolition committee. McWilliams is the founder of the Providence Black Studies Freedom School, a free political education project focused on providing theoretically grounded and engaged historical instruction for members of Providence’s diverse communities. The Real Montgomery Bus Boycott will examine how working-class Black women organized to break the chains of southern segregation and advanced the struggle for Black liberation. 

Public Art as a Form of Activism and Untold Narratives of BIPOC Voices

Tuesday, April 13, 3:00-4:30 pm PT
Hosted by Tulane University’s Center for Public Service
Speakers: Brandan “BMike” Odums, Lead Artist & Curator at Studio BE & Frederick “Wood” Delahoussaye, Artistic Director at the Ashé Cultural Arts Center

Brandan “BMike” Odums is a New Orleans-based visual artist who, through exhibitions, public programs, and public art works, is engaged in a transnational dialogue about the intersection of art and resistance. From film to murals to installations, Odums’ work encapsulates the political fervor of a generation of Black American activists who came of age amidst the tenure of the nation’s first Black president, the resurgence of popular interest in law enforcement violence, and the emergence of the self-care movement. Most often working with spray paint, Odums paints brightly-colored, wall-sized murals that depict historical figures, contemporary creatives, and everyday people. In his otherwise figurative work, Odums departs from realism to play with color – blending lavender to paint the skin of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King and robin’s egg blue for Harriet Tubman, for instance – suggesting an ethos of boldness that unites the subjects of his work and surpasses race, time, or any other aspect of physical reality. Join us for conversation with BMike and Fredrick “Wood” Delahoussaye, the Artistic Director at the Ashé Cultural Arts Center of New Orleans, as we explore the use of Public Art in all spaces.

History Revoiced: Opening the Classroom to Stories that Change Our World

Friday, April 16, 3:00-4:30 pm PT
Hosted by the University of California, Berkeley’s Public Service Center 
Speakers: Kathy Bancroft, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone Reservation and Cultural Resources Monitor for Owens Lake, Pat Steenland, Continuing Lecturer for the College Writing Programs at UC Berkeley, and UC Berkeley students Sera Smith & Sage Alexander

The genocide that happened to Native peoples in California has been conclusively documented. But we have barely begun to confront its cultural, historical, and emotional impact.The University of California, Berkeley, sits on indigenous land and still holds over 10,000 unrepatriated ancestors. In the wake of this unacknowledged genocide in which higher education has been complicit, how can university classrooms and students grapple with this legacy? Can classrooms truly partner with native communities and educators to imagine new institutional spaces and ways of learning? This multi-year partnership between a Berkeley class and Tribal leaders from the Eastern Sierra’s Payahuunadü (renamed the Owens Valley) asks these questions.

Beyond the Dream

Tuesday, April 20, 1-2:30pm PT
Hosted by the University of San Francisco’s McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good
Speaker: Sheryl Davis, Executive Director of the SF Human Rights Commission

In this session, we will explore how activists of the past and conscientious rappers of today used their words to encourage action. Dr. King talked about his dream, Langston Hughes wrote about a dream deferred. What does that mean today? How do the lyrics of Chance the Rapper and Kendrick Lamar unite, encourage or motivate? Participants will consider how poetry and music can bring us together in conversations and help develop an action plan to address challenges in community.

Change with The Trenton Circus Squad

Tuesday, April 20, 3:00-4:30 pm PT
Hosted by Princeton University’s Pace Center for Civic Engagement
Speakers: Members of the Trenton Circus Squad

The Trenton Circus Squad is a youth centered and led circus arts and community engagement organization founded and running in New Jersey’s capital city of Trenton. Trenton’s rich history and vibrant community is showcased through the youth who make up the Squad, the community they build, and neighbors they coach. During the summer of 2020, the Squad researched and created a show and community discussions called Change, inspired by social issues they care about like police brutality, COVID-19, and sexual harassment. Join us while we introduce you to Trenton, screen the show’s film, and discuss these issues and community based solutions.

Climate Change in Boston: Social Determinants, Equity, and Action

Wednesday April 21, 3:00-4:30 pm PT
Hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Priscilla King Gray Public Service Center

Join us for a Climate Interactive Simulation that considers the social determinants of climate change, equity, and action options. Following the simulation, we’ll meet with Climate Ready Boston to consider who is most vulnerable to Climate Change in Boston, as well as learn about local organizations working toward equity and effective community preparation. We’ll also brainstorm personal methods of making a difference and point to efforts across MIT and beyond.

Closing Reflection

Friday, April 23, 3:00-4:30pm PT

Past Events

Free Speech for Graduate Student Activists Symposium – Apply by January 13th at 5pm

February 9, 10 and 11, 2021, 10am – 12pm PT (virtual)

Are you an activist? A graduate student leader? Do you want to learn about the contours of the First Amendment? Or about how to more effectively use your voice to support or protest issues that are important to you?

If you answered ‘yes’, apply to participate in this upcoming symposium: “Free Speech for Student Activists.” This opportunity is open to Berkeley graduate students and is co-sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the UC National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement and the Mario Savio Social Justice Program housed at the Public Service Center  at the University of California, Berkeley.

This symposium is designed for students who are pursuing Master’s and Doctorate degrees. Upon completion, participants will receive a certificate from the ACLU and the UC National Center as well as leave with a more robust understanding of the legal parameters of speech on campus. Applicants will be notified of participation and the zoom link the week of January 18th.

Featured Speakers

Emerson Sykes, Staff Attorney, ACLU
Emerson Sykes, Staff Attorney, ACLUEmerson is a First Amendment litigator focused on the right to protest, campus speech, and the intersection of free speech and racial justice. From 2019-20, he was also host of “At Liberty,” the ACLU’s weekly podcast. Prior to joining the ACLU, Emerson was a legal advisor for Africa at the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law. He was previously an assistant general counsel at the New York City Council and a senior policy fellow in the office of a Member of Parliament in Ghana. Emerson holds a J.D. from NYU Law, an M.P.A. from Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs, and a B.A. from Stanford.

Michelle N. Deutchman, Executive Director, UC National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement
Michelle N. Deutchman Michelle N. Deutchman is the inaugural Executive Director of the UC National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement. Formed by the UC Office of the President, the Center explores how the fundamental democratic and academic principles of free speech and civic engagement should enrich the discovery and transmission of knowledge in America’s colleges and universities. In this role, Deutchman oversees a multidisciplinary national fellowship program and works across all 10 UC campuses to study and shape national discourse about free speech. Before joining the Center, Deutchman served as Western States Civil Rights Counsel and National Campus Counsel for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a non-profit organization that has been a leader in combating bigotry, prejudice and anti-Semitism for over a century. She holds a J.D. from the USC Gould School of Law and a B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley.

Freedom Summer 2020 and Freedom Fall 2020

Working in partnership with Professor Saru Jayaraman from the American Cultures Program, African American Studies Department and One Fair Wage, this program supported nonpartisan voter education and engagement in Michigan and Pennsylvania in this pivotal election year for our democracy.

Student Testimonials

“I was able to connect with incredibly empathetic individuals – every single individual I managed to talk to spoke in the “we,” knowing full well that they were not the only subminimal wage worker being discriminated against during the pandemic. Each person continuously stressed the need for reform so that it can help EVERYONE impacted. It was inspiring and grounding all at once.”

Leslie Laredo, Florida Team


“I had a conversation with a mother of 6 from Detroit who was without a car, and because of COVID, was without a job. When it came time to ask her about signing up for a mail ballot, she was so excited because without a car and six children, showing up at the polls was nearly impossible for her. Talking with her was memorable for me because her resilience was inspiring, and it was really awesome to know that I had possibly made an impact on her by sharing an easier way to vote.”

Courtney Mitchell, Michigan Team