When the Stan Greenspon Center launched in fall 2016, we decided that social-justice advocacy would be central to our mission. Our Center resolves to do whatever it takes to help combat bigotry and injustice. We want to give voice to the voiceless and use our collective influence to create positive change for our Queens University community, the peoples of Charlotte, and beyond.
The first step to bringing about real change is enlightenment. We opened last fall with an eight week Refugee Advocacy training program, which attracted about one hundred and thirty Charlotteans and Queens University students. Each session included an academic or professional presentation and strategies for advocacy at the national, state, and local levels. You can view our recordings of the sessions here.
Each advocacy group focused on two key goals described below:
National Level Goals
1. To advocate for the National Fair Day in Courts Act – the Fair Day in Court for Kids Act, which would protect children and other vulnerable groups in immigration proceedings by ensuring access to counsel, legal orientation programs, and case management services. It also ensures due process for children and vulnerable individuals, and offers an alternative to ICE raids that risk sending individuals to dangerous countries where they face threats of violence, abuse, or even death.
2. To advocate for raising the cap for refugee admissions.
State Level Goals:
1. To educate the community about the refugee situation in North Carolina.
2. To quickly disseminate state-level legislative initiatives as they pertain to refugees. Often legislation is quickly crafted and pushed through the legislative process without any public scrutiny. This speed results in initiatives passing that are designed to have a negative effect on welcoming and settling of refugees in North Carolina.
Local Level Goals:
1. To support and expand educational opportunities for refugees in the Charlotte area.
2. To support and expand educational opportunities about refugees in the Charlotte area.
We also had a group that wanted to directly impact the Charlotte Immigration Court.
Charlotte Immigration Court Goals:
1. We need to increase the number of lawyers willing to represent asylees.
2. We need to help develop stronger trust between asylee seekers and lawyers.
To support these goals we have participated in a number of online campaigns to support these initiatives, sent out weekly emails to highlight relevant trainings and events, hosted international artist Kate Evans who spoke about refugee issues – (You can read about this here), and worked in coordination with the UNC Charlotte’s Center for Holocaust, Genocide & Human Rights Studies to host their Witness in Residence speaker (Syrian Refugee) at Queens University – (You can read about this here). We have hosted a training to help launch the Court Observer program in coordination local ACLU chapter. The training taught participants to witness and record court proceedings at the Charlotte Immigration Court – (You can read about this here).
Our group recently decided to include the broader issue of immigration reform in our advocacy agenda and are currently organizing to work for DACA students and their families. We are in the process of hosting an educational event on the Dream Act and other legislative proposals as we plan for moving forward with advocacy. Finally, our group is putting together an Arts and Advocacy conference in the Spring of 2018, around the topic of Immigrants and Refugees in Our Community. You can view our dedicated webpage to Refugee and Immigrant Advocacy here.
While we are continuing our efforts at advocacy for refugees and immigrants, we have also begun a new wing of advocacy for Racial Justice in the Fall of 2017. We will be coordinating this advocacy agenda with our new partners: Johnson C. Smith University and UNC Charlotte. Together we are now operating as the Charlotte Racial Justice Consortium. We are thrilled to be hosting more than 200 Charlotteans and Queens University students.
We are currently in the midst of our education programming events and would love to invite anyone to our remaining events and advocacy planning for Racial Justice. Details of the upcoming events are below:
Session Six – Policing and Personal Pain
Thursday, November 2, 6:30-8:00 pm
Johnson C. Smith University, Biddle Hall Gambrell Auditorium
Moderator: Robert Dawkins, State organizer for SAFE (Safety Accountability Fairness Equity), and panel discussion with parents who have lost children at the hands of police
Session Seven – Where We are and Where We Are Going
Thursday, November 9, 6:30-8:00 pm
Queens University of Charlotte, Ketner Auditorium
Dr. Susan McCarter, Associate Professor of Social Work, University of North Carolina Charlotte
Brian Collier, Executive Vice President, Foundation for The Carolinas
Moderator: Mitchell Feld, Director of Children’s Defense, Council for Children’s Rights
Session Eight – Setting Our Advocacy Agenda
Thursday, November 16, 6:30-8:00 pm
Queens University of Charlotte