Social Justice Conference
By Grace Kalil '20
Back in April of 2019, Dr. Goldkamp approached Jordan Tierney and I about an upcoming Social Justice Conference planned by the Archdiocese of St. Louis. She told us that the conference would be in September, the week before Fall Fest, and we would be giving a 45 minute workshop on whatever topic we chose. September was shaping up to be one of my busiest months of Senior year because Fall Fest work for Peace and Justice Club and Student Council. Now, I would also have to find time to work on the conference. Jordan and I hesitantly agreed to represent Viz and we got to work.
The first planning meeting took place in May and there were only about 4 students participating, including Jordan and I. Progress was made and the number of students slowly increased. By the end of summer, we had only 10 student volunteers. We decided to push the Conference back to February in order to allow more people to join. In December, we started preparing who the plenary speaker would be, we asked different organization to participate in our resource fair, and how we would advertise. I created the flyer that was hung up in various schools, including Viz. Around this time we also chose the name of the conference -- Living Faith with Action Sr. Antona Ebo Social Justice Conference. Sr. Antona Ebo was a nun in St. Louis who dedicated her life to helping others. We wanted to remember her and honor her legacy through the conference. By the time we were figuring out our final run through, we had more than 20 student volunteers!
Throughout the planning process, Jordan and I also were working on our 45 minute workshop. We chose White Privilege as our topic. We define white privilege as a privilege which light-skinned people are born with that gives them power in society that is unavailable to racial minorities. Although race and racism are heavy and complex issues, I encourage all people to learn about it. Race affects all aspects of life and it's important to learn about so you can be a more well-rounded person.
Finally, the day of the conference came and I arrived at SLUH at 7:00 in the morning. We set up tables for various organizations who were coming to the resource fair and Jordan and I went through our presentation one more time. Then, Bishop Rivituso prayed and Sara John from IFCLA (Inter-Faith Committee on Latin America) gave a short speech on the importance of advocacy. Finally, it was time for Jordan and I to present. I was very nervous because about 50 people were in attendance for our workshop, but as soon as we began our presentation, I felt much calmer. After our slides, Jordan and I split the crowd into two groups and began small group discussions. People from 15 to 75 attended, so it was interesting to hear different perspectives on race based on upbringing, education, and age. Many people thanked Jordan and I for presenting about White Privilege and appreciated us taking on such an intricate topic.The Conference was a great success!
We tripled the attendance from the prior year and Jordan I's workshop had the highest attendance out of all the workshops! I am so grateful for my opportunity to help plan and present at the Living Faith with Action Conference. Not only did I make some new friends, but I learned a lot about social justice in St. Louis High Schools. This conference was If you are a Junior or a Senior and interested in social justice, I encourage you to help plan next year's conference! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!