The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute this week is presenting a symposium about youth activism in the Civil Rights Era and today. “Lessons from the Birmingham Movement: A Symposium on Youth, Activism and the Struggle for Human Rights” will be held April 25-27.
The theme of the youth symposium stems from the sense of burgeoning rebirth around modern youth movements and activism surrounding social justice issues like the 2011 Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street and U.S. immigration policy, said Priscilla Cooper, vice president of institutional programs for the BCRI.
The institute will stream the symposium live on the Internet, to support its mission of “promoting civil and human rights worldwide through education.”
Events on Thursday, April 25, will be held in the downtown Civil Rights District, kicking off with a panel at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and closing with a tour and reception at the BCRI.
The panel discussion will focus on the question, “What are the lessons from the Birmingham Movement?” moderated by senior reporter Barnett Wright of The Birmingham News and including panelists Rev. Frank Dukes, Rev. Dr. Jonathan McPherson, Bishop Calvin Woods and participants of the 1963 Children’s March. Wright is the author of 1963: How the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement Changed America and the World.
Events scheduled for Friday and Saturday, April 26-27, will be hosted at the Westin Hotel downtown. Sessions for both days include speaker presentations, as well as panels focusing on immigration and young human rights activists. A panel featuring local activists will be moderated by journalist Juan Williams, formerly of National Public Radio, author of the book Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965, and Fox News political analyst.
Friday highlights also include presentations by broadcast journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault, who in 1961 was one of the first two African-American students to enroll in the University of Georgia; Rami Khouri, internationally known journalist and director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut; and the luncheon speaker, Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, filmmaker, self-proclaimed undocumented immigrant, and founder of Define American, a campaign focused on immigration issues. Panel discussions will deal with immigration and young human rights activists.
A performance by international hip-hop artist Emmanuel Jal, who was conscripted into the Sudanese army as a child, is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday. Jal will also be included in Saturday’s session called “Activating Today’s Youth,” which will feature performances, group discussions, and conversation with Jal, activist Carolyn McKinstry, radio personality and businessman Shelley Stewart and Amina El Halawani, who earned a master’s degree in English language and literature from Alexandria University in Egypt before becoming Birmingham-Southern’s 2012-13 Fulbright Fellow and foreign language teaching assistant in Arabic.
The symposium, co-sponsored by the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, the City of Birmingham, the Rotary Club of Birmingham, the Kiwanis Club of Birmingham, and the Westin, is free (except for Friday’s ticketed luncheon), but online registration is encouraged. For a full schedule of events, and to learn more about the symposium and the featured speakers, visit www.bcri.org.