The Social Justice and Leadership Summit was created, in 2016, by the James Farmer Multicultural Center to create a valuable and meaningful opportunity for University of Mary Washington students to enhance their awareness of social justice issues and learn about strategies and resources to effectively address and respond to them. This annual summit provides attendees with an opportunity to build coalitions across cultural barriers, strengthen advocacy, and support the promotion of an equal, equitable campus culture and climate at UMW and in American society.
The purpose of the Social Justice and Leadership Summit was to create an annual gathering of critical thinkers and student leaders, with the aim of providing them the space to engage in thoughtful dialogue, encompassing various topics related to social justice. In addition to dialogue and learning, students actively participate in skill building, to put theory into practice. The first Summit was initiated by then Assistant Director, James Bland. For the past two years, the Summit has been under the direction of current Assistant Director, Chris Williams. Through his stewardship, the Summit has incorporated the UMW faculty as session facilitators on a variety of social justice issues. In 2018, Dr. LaWanda Simpkins, Dr. Danny Tweedy, Dr. Krystyn Moon, Dr. Erin Devlin, Dr. Dan Hubbard, and Dr. Laura Wilson, served as session facilitators, where their expertise showcased the importance of students becoming involved in the continued fight for social justice, inclusion, and equity. In 2019, Dr. Christine Henry, Dr. Nina Smith, Dr. Kim Gower, Dr. Erin Devlin, and Dr. John Broome, served as session facilitators to build upon the foundation laid down by the aforementioned professors. As a result, 10 different academic disciplines have been represented at the Summit.
The inclusion of student leaders has been instrumental into adding another dimension to the Summit. Student leaders from the James Farmer Multicultural Center’s Multicultural Leadership Council, along with the JFMC’s spring semester interns, have played an integral role to the success of the Summit by serving as student subcommittee members. Through their efforts, they’ve developed video content and flyers to help promote the Summit across campus, designed the official logos for the past two Summits, obtained funding for the event, selected the overall themes, and created a website dedicated to the Summit. In 2018, Ayanna Shingler, Rahima Morshed, Mariam Ansari, Daksha Khatri, and Nehemia Abel constituted the members of the student subcommittee. In 2019, Ayanna Shingler, Jason Ford, Effie Kalulu, Milen Mehari, and Lauren Reyes constituted the members of the student subcommittee. The 2018 theme was “Reclaiming, We, the People.” The 2019 theme was “In Pursuit of Truth and Justice.” For the past two years, the Summit has been sponsored by the College of Arts & Sciences, Students Educating and Empowering Diversity, and the Office of Student Affairs.