Civil rights attorney and community activist Fania Davis’ passionate commitment to social transformation dates back to the civil rights era, when two of her close childhood friends were murdered in the 1963 Sunday School bombing.
As the keynote speaker on Thursday during the Social Justice in the Central Valley conference at Stanislaus State, Davis has spent decades engaging in social issues devoted to civil rights, Black liberation, women and prisoners, as well as becoming actively involved in peace, anti-racial violence and anti-apartheid movements.
In 2005, Davis founded Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth, which is an organization that works to break tragic cycles that affect youth of color as a result of punitive school discipline and juvenile justice policies. Among other consequences, these cycles include youth violence, incarceration and wasted lives.
Through RJOY, Davis and other staff members promote institutional shifts toward restorative approaches that actively engage families, communities and systems to repair harm and prevent re-offending. The organization focuses on reducing racial disparities and public costs associated with high rates of incarceration, suspension and expulsion.
Sponsored by the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, the Social Justice in the Central Valley conference’s goal is to address more than just restorative justice and reconciliation practices. Over the course of two days, experts will cover numerous topics, including food justice, the Prison Education Project, homelessness, and Dreamers.
The Social Justice in the Central Valley conference will continue today with various presentations, including those on homelessness, racial achievement gaps, social environmental resources for at-risk students, health access for immigrant communities, intersectional immigrant issues impacting LGBTQ immigrants, food empowerment projects for at-risk populations, education initiatives, and water quality issues for at-risk populations.
The conference will conclude with keynote speakers Dixie Salazar and Sasha Abramsky. As an award-winning artist, author, activist and educator, Salazar’s work has been shown extensively, including exhibits in San Francisco, Las Vegas, New York and numerous galleries throughout the Central Valley. She will kick off the closing keynote program with a poetry reading and discussion on “And homeless near a thousand homes I stood.”
Abramsky is a freelance award-winning journalist and author of “The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives,” which presents an ambitious portrait of poverty in 21st century America. Abramsky’s book was named one of the 100 Notable Books of the Year in The New York Times, as well as featured in many publications, including New York Magazine, the New Yorker, Los Angeles Weekly and Rolling Stone.
Abramsky has a master’s degree from the Columbia University School of Journalism and he was awarded in 2002 with an Open Society, Crime and Communities Media Fellowship. He is currently a Senior Fellow at the New York City-based Demos think tank.
Event attendees can park for free for the event and can also reserve seats for the closing keynote program tonight by visiting csustan.edu/social-justice-conference. More information, including event times, topics and locations, can be found on the website as well.