Social Justice Lecture Series

In 2004, the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice organized the annual Social Justice Lecture Series as a means of bringing nationally- and internationally-recognized social justice activists to the Southeastern community.

Social justice means a recognition of human dignity and human rights, and that all people should be afforded the ability to access the necessities of life and be guaranteed the opportunity to pursue their aspirations. Social justice activists devote their work to raising awareness of critical issues facing our society.

The Social Justice Speaker Series has been supported by a variety of organizations at Southeastern, including the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (AHSS), the Lyceum Arts and Lectures Committee (AL), the Student Government Association (SGA), the Southeastern Sociological Association (SSA), and Reconnect Student Sustainability Organization.


On Wednesday, November 8, 2017, the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice will host Adrienne Maree Brown, as our 13th Annual Social Justice Speaker. Adrienne is an author, science fiction scholar, and community organizer/healer. She draws inspiration from the work of Octavia Butler and believes that visionary fiction can help us to create communities that we want to live in. While here, Adrienne will facilitate a student organizing workshop, and will also deliver a lecture to the university community based on her book Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds.

The workshop is from 9:30 am until 11:45am and will teach students how to organize and respond to emerging social issues. Please use this link to register for the workshop:

The lecture will be held at 2:00pm in the Student Union Grand Ballroom. Adrienne will sign copies of her book immediately following the lecture.



chris eder photo2016- Our 2016 Social Justice Speaker was Chris Eder a retired US Air Force MSgt with PTSD. He served 23.5 years as a combat correspondent. Today, Chris considers himself a broadcast journalist, turned yogi who now creates mala beads to support several non-profit organizations such as, Mindful Yoga Therapy for Veterans and the Give Back Yoga Foundation. Chris spoke about the importance of peace and the ability of yoga to help individuals recover from trauma. Students and faculty were enthused to participate in Eder's well-attended yoga class and found his presentation captivating.



sjss 2015 photo2015- In November 2015, Marc Bousquet an Associate Professor of Film and Media at Emory University addressed the neoliberalization of higher education. Bousquet is the author of the well-known critique of higher education, How the University Works: Higher Education and the Low-Wage Nation and is preparing a sequel, Monetizing the Student. He is a frequent contributor to the higher education trade press, co-editor of The Politics of Information: The Electronic Mediation of Social Change, and coeditor of Tenured Bosses and Disposable Teachers. He founded Workplace: A Journal of Academic Labor and has served on the editorial board of several journals, including AAUP's Academe.



angela davis photo 2014 –In November 2014, we welcomed Angela Davis to mark 10 years of the Social Justice Speaker Series.  Professor Davis is the author of nine books and has lectured throughout the United States as well as in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and South America. In recent years a persistent theme of her work has been the range of social problems associated with incarceration and the generalized criminalization of those communities that are most affected by poverty and racial discrimination. She draws upon her own experiences in the early seventies as a person who spent eighteen months in jail and on trial, after being placed on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted List.” Her most recent book is The Meaning of Freedom and Other Difficult Dialogs. Like many other educators, Professor Davis is especially concerned with the general tendency to devote more resources and attention to the prison system than to educational institutions. Having helped to popularize the notion of a “prison industrial complex,” she now urges her audiences to think seriously about the future possibility of a world without prisons and to help forge a 21st century abolitionist movement.



sjss 2013 photoNovember 2013, Lee Shull. Following the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Shull advocated for stronger gun safety legislation by engaging lobbyists, resulting in the toughest gun safety laws in the country. By rallying friends and neighbors together, he created Sandy Hook Promise. Sandy Hook Promise helps the community heal and advocates for change. His lecture demonstrated the importance of activism and community involvement. 







justin_wedes-photoOn Monday, Nov. 5, 2012 one of the founders of Occupy Wall Street, Justin Wedes, spent the day with our students for this year's Social Justice Speaker Series. Justin's day was a whirlwind of exciting activity. He held an activist organizing workshop at 11, had lunch with the Southeastern Sociological Association, graduate students, and students from other departmental clubs including Reconnect. At 2pm Justin gave his keynote address to a packed house in Pottle Auditorium where he dispelled myths about the Occupy movement, discussed the importance of the movement in shifting national conversation about financial institutions, and recent relief activities by Occupy in post-Sandy NYC. But perhaps the most interesting part of the day occurred after his talk. Over a dozen students continued to talk with Justin on the grounds outside of Pottle. After about an hour the conversation with students moved to Starbucks and then, after dinner with several faculty, students met again with Justin at a downtown restaurant. Justin was inspired by our students' enthusiasm and passion and they were eager to learn and share with the veteran organizer. Thanks to everyone who helped make this year's event successful!



In November 2011, the Social Justice Speaker Series brought Shane Windmeyer to Southeastern's Pottle Hall. The Series is known for cutting edge speakers covering a diverse array of topical subjects, and Windmeyer continued this tradition. He is a national leader and advocate for gay and lesbian civil rights, and co-founder and executive director of Campus Pride, the only national organization for student leaders and groups working to create safer college environments for LGBT students. Windmeyer brought students on stage, dressed them in colorful boas and had them do their best dancing in a very lively and engaging talk to a packed house. Although lively and often fun, his talk, "The Impact of Hate," focused on challenging students to explore prejudices around them as well as their own, and to motivate them to make a difference fighting prejudice and hate in their own communities. Participants were "dared" to take action and fight the roots of prejudice.



ann william cassIn November 2010,Ann Williams Cass was the first featured speaker of the program, discussing "Immigration and Secure Borders: Dispelling the Myths". She is the Executive Director of Proyecto Azteca, a self-help housing program based in San Juan, Texas, inspired by the late Caesar Chavez. She has been an activist and organizer in Texas since the 1980s. She brings a wealth of experience and knowledge in community and economic development issues on the South Texas border related to housing, health care, immigration and education. For more information, visit

The November 2010 program also featured a panel discussion with Ted Quant, Jacinta Gonzalez, Dennis Soriano, and Jacob Horwitz, discussing "The Streets Will Not Be Silent: The Story of the Congress of Day Laborers and the Fight for Justice". Ted Quant is the Director of the Twomey Center for Peace Through Justice at Loyola University in New Orleans. The Twomey Center works to shape social justice consciousness and take action on issues of workers' rights, racism, poverty, and justice. Jacinta Gonzalez and Dennis Soriano of the Workers' Center for Racial Justice in New Orleans fight theft, prejudice and the other unjust structural realities with which Latino immigrants struggle daily. Jacob Horwitz is a community organizer for the Workers' Center. For more information, visit: and

jesse diazConcluding the November 2010 program was Jesse Diaz, Jr. presenting "Confronting the Two Faces of the Immigration Rights Movement in the Context of the Immigration Industrial Complex." Jesse Diaz Jr., along with Hernandad Mexicana Transnacional, advocates for immigration rights through campaigns against anti-immigrant hate groups and other repressive actions toward the immigrant community. He is a founder of the Placita Olvera Working Group that organized the 2006 Gran Marcha and Gran Paro Americano 2006. Jesse is currently teaching Sociology at the University of Texas-Pan American.






In 2009, the Social Justice Speaker Series again featured two individuals Omar Freilla and Diane Wilson. Omar Freilla is founder of Green Worker Cooperatives, an organization dedicated to bringing worker-owned and eco-friendly manufacturing jobs to the South Bronx in New York. Green Worker Cooperatives incubates these types of employment opportunities in response to high unemployment and decades of environmental racism. They don't have the luxury to wait for new alternatives; therefore, they're creating them. They believe that in order to address our environmental and economic problems we need new ways to earn a living that don't require polluting the earth or exploiting human labor. For more information, visit

WilsonDiane Wilson, a fourth-generation shrimper, began fishing the bays off the Gulf Coast of Texas at the age of eight. In 1989, while running her brother's fish house at the docks and mending nets, she read a newspaper article that listed her home of Calhoun County as the number one toxic polluter in the country. She set up a meeting in the town hall to discuss what the chemical plants were doing to the bays and thus began her life as an environmental activist. Threatened by thugs and despised by her neighbors, Diane insisted the truth be told and that Formosa Plastics stop dumping toxins into the bay. Her work on behalf of the people and aquatic life of Seadrift, Texas, has won her a number of awards including: National Fisherman Magazine Award, Mother Jones's Hell Raiser of the Month, and the Louisiana Environmental Action (LEAN) Environmental Award. An Unreasonable Woman, her story of the struggle against the polluters of the Texas Gulf Coast was Diane's first book. Her most recent book is HOLY ROLLER: Growing Up in the Church of Knock Down, Drag Out; or How I Quit Loving a Blue-Eyed Jesus.




On November 6, 2008, Allan Johnson addressed the issues of patriarchy and gender inequality. He is a writer, teacher and public speaker working to address issues of privilege, oppression, and social inequality. He received his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Michigan in 1972. He taught for 30 years and now devotes his time entirely to writing and public speaking on issues such as patriarchy and male privilege, the dynamics of gender inequality in families, schools, and workplaces, sexuality and relationships between women and men, and the dilemmas of manhood and fatherhood. Dr. Johnson has written numerous books, including: The Forest and the Trees: Sociology as Life, Practice, and Promise, The Blackwell Dictionary of Sociology, Privilege, Power, and Difference, and The Gender Knot: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy, the latter which has been used in Southeastern's Sociology of Gender course



kroneThe Speaker Series featured two presenters in 2007, Sakura Kone and Medea Benjamin.

Sakura Kone, representing Common Ground Collective, spoke about the recovery and redevelopment of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. He has assisted with distributing aid, establishing a community health clinic in the Lower Ninth Ward, and advocating for the continuing needs of people in New Orleans as the coordinator of media and events for the organization



benjimanMedea Benjamin is Founding Director of Global Exchange, a membership-based international human rights organization dedicated to promoting social, economic and environmental justice around the world. She has struggled for social justice and human rights in Asia, the Americas, and Africa for over 25 years ( She also co-founded Code Pink, a women's peace group that has been organizing creative actions against the occupation of Iraq. Since the tragic events of 9/11, Ms. Benjamin has been organizing against a violent response. She traveled several times to Afghanistan, including with a delegation of 9/11 families, to highlight civilian casualties caused by the US invasion. She helped bring together the groups forming the coalition United for Peace and Justice



deesIn 2006, Morris Dees, co-founder and Chief Trial Counsel for the Southern Poverty Law Center, spoke about the right to be free of racial oppression. The Center is internationally known for its tolerance education programs, its legal victories against white supremacists and its tracking of hate groups. For more information, visit









prejeanThe initial speaker was Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking and The Death of Innocents, and advocate for the abolition of the death penalty. For more information about the work of Sister Helen, visit her blogsite at or the Death Penalty Discourse Network Newsletter at