Inaugural conference presenters aim to ‘ImpACT’ attendees

By Diana Hernandez

January 28, 2014

Dominican held the first “ImpACT” day on Monday, Jan. 20 in honor of the life and legacy marked in our nation by Martin Luther King, Jr. The day consisted of various workshop sessions, two notable keynote speakers and music performed by the University Ministry’s liturgical choir.

“Music is soothing and brings us all together,” Megan Graves, senior and member of the liturgical choir, remarked.

The day began with keynote speaker Mariame Kaba, founding director of Project NIA, a Chicago based organization dedicated to ending youth incarceration. Kaba shared her experiences working with incarcerated juveniles and encouraged others to stand up and speak out against social injustices in America.

The day continued with two individual workshops of sessions dealing with social justice issues, discussing topics including organizing low-wage workers to change society and dealing with gun violence. The sessions also included the movements and communities that commit to fight against social injustices.

All sessions were presented by students, faculty or guest speakers who shared their own experiences in fighting social injustices.

Juniors Stephanie Zavala and Ariana Salgado presented a session titled ‘Understanding New Forms of Discrimination,’ sharing their experiences being involved with a youth-led movement and talking about their struggles in order to attend college. Zavala and Salgado also discussed issues including the Dream Act, drug cartels in Mexico and addressed questions such as ‘Why do Mexicans immigrate to the U.S.?’

“At the end of the day, the U.S. puts [out] policies that only benefit themselves,” Zavala said.

“We can be your neighbor,” Salgado added, referring to the opportunities the Dream Act offers to college students.

During the lunch session, Anthony Suarez-Abraham, director of the Office of Peace and Justice for the Archdiocese of Chicago, brought up poverty concerns in nearby districts such as Cook County, stating that 86 percent of inmates in the Cook County Department of Corrections are African-American and 90 percent of them are waiting for a trial. He also shared his own experience with the social justice system, even referring to his own religious experiences.

“How will you impact the world?” Suarez-Abraham asked his audience.

He talked discussed how Martin Luther King, Jr. dreamed of a beloved community and told students to stand with King.

 “We must discover and envision his mission,” Suarez said.