SJSU Launches Inaugural Racial Justice Event

Transforming Communities: A Movement to Racial Justice

As protests erupted across the United States over the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in 2020, raising the national conscience about racism, San José State University administrators vowed to combat systemic racism on campus through a series of short-term and long-term action plans.

One of those action plans begins on November 1, 2021. Transforming Communities: A Movement to Racial Justice — is designed to drive the conversation and work around racial justice. It will be an annual event every November —  which also serves as Native American Heritage Month — and will include a variety of programming from campus partners, the City of San José, local schools and community organizations.

“Part of our mission at San José State is to become a fully inclusive, anti-racist, multicultural institution of higher learning,” said President Mary A. Papazian. “To get there, we must take steps toward tangible change and, at the same time, implement longer-term strategies. I anticipate that Transforming Communities will soon become a signature event at our university, and an opportunity for the entire SJSU community to come together to learn, engage and create pathways for positive change.”

The Transforming Communities: A Movement to Racial Justice event will feature a different theme and new programs each year. Director of Advocacy for Racial Justice Jahmal Williams said this year’s theme is: Reflection. Discovery. Action.

“We believe everyone plays a part and begins from different places,” Williams said. “Some people or organizations may be in the space of reflection. Others may be seeking additional information or discovery to help drive efforts or strategies they hope to implement. While others may be just getting started with the work. No matter where they are, there is a space for everyone to get involved. We want to make sure all can participate.”

This year, there will be 27 different programs during the first 13 days of November. They include presentations, panel discussions, keynote speakers, artistic performances and open space workshops in which participants can discuss and reflect on issues around racial justice. A schedule of programs can be found on the Transforming Communities website.

Transforming Communities puts into action many of the key values of the work of equity and social justice,” said Chief Diversity Officer Kathleen Wong (Lau). “The programming is innovative and collaborative and includes community and campus voices as not only agents of change but also generators of important conversations and connections necessary to do the work around racial justice. As an ongoing annual program, it has the potential to expand the region’s capacity for transformative change that is institutionalized and continually energized.”