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ASU downtown Campus-Center for Community Development and Civil Rights Presents: Civil Rights Forum-Recognize, Respond and ReACT
Friday, April 4, 2008

Keynote speaker-Juan Williams is one of America’s leading political writers and thinkers. He is the senior correspondent for NPR, a political analyst for Fox television and a regular panelist to FoxNews Sunday.

Informal interview with some students before the official program was introduced.

Jacqueline "Jackie" Mahoney, MSW, Social Work Solutions, LLC, works in the inner cities directing programs for youth assistance. She is also a playwright. She asked the question, "What is Mr. Williams’ strategy for youth development to break the cycle of incarceration so high within the demographics of persons of color?"

In his 2006 book, Enough, Williams makes the case that while there is still racism, it is way past time for black Americans to open their eyes to the "culture of failure" that exists within their community. He is concerned about the high drop out rate of youth today and the need to motivate these youth to stay in school. Mr. Williams was the editor of newspapers in both high school and junior high. He talked about the importance of telling ones personal story and that this story should focus on the power and strength of one to overcome adversity, recording the positive in one’s life and not dwelling on the past and negative circumstance. He stated that these stories are so beautifully documented in children’s literature like this wonderful book by Maya Angelou, Life Does Not Frighten Me, illustrated by Jean Michele Basquiat.

The idea of utilizing literature as a means to tell a universally relevant story is not only a positive way to advance DIALOGUE, but a non threatening means to engage youth in critical inquiry conversations that are important to each one in their daily lives. Please, note the available lesson plan for this literature to be used by all teachers and any persons in a community setting. The lesson plan was created in a university as a means to engage youth in conversations that are currently not occurring.

Language Arts grades.

A Handbook of Classroom Practices

By: Anthony Loffredio
(RIC Secondary Education Practicum Student assisted by Prof. David Cappella)

The overall objective of this lesson, in terms of infusing equity by gender in the classroom, is to break down stereotypes about what is feared in life by gender. The objective is that students clearly understand that there are fears common to both genders, and that one gender is not "stronger" than the other because both have fears and deal with them, albeit differently.

STANDARD: All students will be able to list strategies to overcome gender bias,! stereotyping, and discrimination.

GRADE LEVEL: Seventh and Eighth Grade, English

OBJECTIVE(S): Students will be able to list strategies to overcome gender bias and stereotyping by:

  1. Recognizing the fear that gender bias can induce.
  2. Identifying specific fears that challenge an individual in terms of discrimination and stereotyping.
  3. Recognizing their own biases and their own fears and how they might overcome their own fears of gender bias.
  4. Listing ways in which the tone of Maya Angelou’s poem reveals the fear of the speaker in the poem.

The Day of this symposium was also a day of celebration for Maya Angelou-In Honor of Maya Angelou’s 80 birthday, April 4, 2008.
At 80, Maya Angelou Reflects on a 'Glorious' Life

Right next door to Mr. Williams’ impromptu interview Melanie Ohm and judy butzine were reviewing with the Break Out Session Student Trainees the logistics of the day for these 7 community advocacy symposium sessions.

  1. Economic Justice (Vicky Chung & Sam Richard)
  2. Health: Evidence-Based Consumer (Katie Jacober & Isaac Horton)
  3. Gender Issues (Jessica Shea & Caitlin Gizler)
  4. Health Care Disparities (Aimee Connell & Elizabeth McBride)
  5. Immigration & English Only (Allison Nagle & Elenia Sotelo)
  6. Race & Interracial Relations (Noel Barto, Victor Lopez & Leanne Murphy)
  7. War (Matt Eckhoff & Eichelle Armstrong)

All of these young people, many of whom are students at the ASU College of Public Programs and Nursing (some are community participants from local community organizations) had received facilitation training in a process termed Vision Mapping two weeks before from Melanie and Judy (CAC co-founders and co-directors).

Recognition of the public participation methodology to support and promote egalitarian community engagement on thoughtful community issues was brought to the attention of the Community Advocacy Symposium planning committee by Malissa Geer. Malissa is a graduate of Interdisciplinary Studies and currently a Masters of Nonprofit Studies student in the College of Public Programs. Malissa sat in on a Cultural Arts Coalition community meeting more than three years ago and saw the capacity for this community group to bring processes of significant community engagement dialogue to persons in diverse neighborhoods.

Once again by creating the story from persons about questions of concern around a topic area, dialogue can arise that allows for a more symbolic and reflective conversation that expands the discussion around this chosen subject area.

This is why Malissa went into the community when the 411 N. Central ASU campus building was being completed three years ago and located the visual arts expressions of the local community members for which this college is to serve. Throughout the halls, hanging on all the walls, are the exhibited artworks of community citizens of all ages and cultural backgrounds to make visible their stories and presence to the world of academia.

Artworks are by local individuals and professional artists who work directly with youth in the community, Joe Willie Smith - Looking Out, and "Sonny" Sholola, The Yoruba Family, art teacher from Nigeria at South Mt. High School.

The official program of the day began at 11:30 in the first floor lobby area, sponsored by the ASU Center for Community Development and Civil Rights. The Regents’ Welcome by Ernesto Calderon, Esq., Vice-President, Arizona Board of Regents

was followed by Dr. Debra Friedman, Vice President, ASU Downtown Phoenix campus and Dean of the College of Public Programs who opened the day’s program.

Introduction of Featured Panelist by Raul Yzaguirre, Presidential Professor of Practice, Executive Director, ASU Center for Community Development and Civil Rights was followed by moderator James Garcia who led the audience in questioning of Juan Williams and Dr. Matthew Whitaker, Associate Professor of History at ASU.

Mr. Williams reiterated many of the thoughts already conveyed in his informal interview. He also stated that, It is a gift to me and my continued understanding of life’s issues that I keep learning and growing. I am constantly in a struggle to tell stories that have meaning and broad implications for society. As I look around, interpret and present this public information I ask each of you to believe in yourself. To follow your hearts as you become involved in your communities. I am truly blessed to be in a position to embrace words and ideas and send them back into the public domain.

Dr. Whitaker later discussed how he was taught as a college student of history to be constantly critical of the existing information. But he realizes that it is more difficult to deal with programming and giving the power back to the people by creating processes that allow persons to deal with issues in their own community. We must encourage and guide the youth of today to become involved and we must listen to them.

With this thought left in the minds of the symposium participants the breakout sessions convened:
A Four Realms of Discovery Event: ASU Community Advocacy Symposium-Creating Social, Health and Economic Justice engages participants in dialogue about ideas, values and community concerns in an effort to initiate positive change.

This mission supports the work of the Cultural Arts Coalition as a collaborating sponsor.
The Mission of the Cultural Arts Coalition/Celebrating Global connection, Arizona: 501 (c) 3
Identifying, supporting, promoting, celebrating, and documenting those community arts practices that stimulate social awareness and honor diverse cultural values, and develop the critical thinking skills necessary to be creative and solve problems. As a networking group, the coalition strives to provide a safe place for persons of all ages and backgrounds to gather and achieve a sense of belonging and respect within a larger community and to explore arts-related skills in a facilitated environment.

Noel Barto, Victor Lopez and Leanne Murphy form the community/ASU student team for discussion of Race/Interracial Relationships.

The guest presenter for the first 15-20 minute of this 2 hour session was Ms. Teresita Hurtado, MSW.

Jessica Shea and Caitlin Gizler led the Gender Issues forum with Ms. Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona House of Representative, the introduction speaker on this community subject.

At the same time in the War break out session Dr. Dave Wells was the introductory speaker on this topic with student facilitators Matt Eckhoff and Eichelle Armstrong guiding the remainder of the forum.

Dr. Kathleen Williamson spoke in Take charge of your health: be an evidence based consumer with student facilitators Katie Jacober and Isaac Horton.

On public display in two hall way alcoves near classrooms these collaged Honoring Boxes were facilitated at a Humanics student and professor retreat by judy butzine (CAC) two and a half years ago as a means to give intentions to one’s community service for future endeavors.

This was the impetus that warranted Malissa to engage the CAC trainers to teach "Vision Mapping" to ASU students and community members.

The process begins in the Immigration and English Only session with Mr. Jorge Montiel the key note speaker and Allison Nagle

and Elenia Sotelo the facilitators.

The questions to be asked in al the sessions were the same. The subject was different.

  • What action do I need to take to examine and explore a desired change I imagine for my community?
  • What opportunities and needs have I identified around this topic?
  • What possibilities do I envision for a desired change to occur in my community?

For Vicky Chung and Sam Richard their speaker that introduced the theme of Economic Justice was Dr. Barbara Robles.

The collage component of collecting symbolic images or statements while creating a reflective dialogue in one’s head or in small groups occurred at this time.

The evolving next step of this one hour process is interpreting the meaning behind the gathered symbols, images, and words and to discuss the purposefulness of focus as the cutout materials were secured to the large poster board.

The collage process was resisted in only one session where an individual appeared to want to control the conversation. Vision Mapping uses an art-making process to engage ideas, values and community. The arts were the earliest tools of communication, predating language as a means to explore universal questions. In the act of creating a collage together, ideas, culture and values are encountered through images and symbols. The exercise is both personal and communal. Dialogue about randomly selected symbolic metaphors is part of a shared learning process that can build a sense of common goals and objectives. During this two hour block of time all groups used vision mapping to "discover" possibilities for a shared vision and personal resolves concerning the topic. By identifying meaningful images, symbols and phrases a visionary document is created that reflects both the collective discoveries and one’s individual intentions around this subject with some potential personal and/or community actions.

One last group session that has not been introduced is Health Disparities with Dr. Olga Davis as the lead speaker and R.J. Shannon as the community representative on HIV/AIDS awareness and education. Aimee Connell and Elizabeth McBride were the ASU student facilitators.

Conclusion summaries and action statements were documented and prepared for the Plenary

At this time Session participants were asked to identify common themes and ideas that rose to the surface during the past hour and a half. What were the discoveries, surprises, new directions? What are some potential community actions?

The Plenary was a time for all to come together to share these summaries and action plans.

Malissa Geer spoke with pride of how the youth facilitators and the guest speakers worked together to guide a significant public participation process around a common theme in each breakout session.

Students, professors, community citizens came together for concluding conversations that reinforced the value of through shared stories empowerment of all, resulting in solutions for community transformation around issues of health, economic and social justice.

Thank you to Malissa Geer & Dora Valentin Tompkins, ASU Downtown Coordinator of Student Development, for inviting the CAC to be a community collaborator.

Economic Justice

Evidence Based Health consumer

Gender Issues

Health Disparities

Immigrant and English Only

Race and Interracial Relationships


Dr. Georgeana Montoya, Interim Dean for Student Affairs, gave the closing statement thanking everyone who gave so much time and energy into making this event the success it was. Many persons volunteered countless hours to make sure the symposium became a reality. This is a historic moment for the college.

The breakout session collage boards were visible in the lobby following the plenary.

First Friday events began at 6:30PM with James Garcia, Playwright of Dream Act ( a play in one-act) presenting play vignettes in both English and Spanish for the audience.

A co-presentation of Colores Actors-Writers Workshop and ASU Gammage
Directed by John Tang and Luis Avila

This play will be presented in English and in Spanish in individual performances each evening and during each matinee.

THE PLAY: Graduate student Victoria Nava came to the U.S. with her parents as a small child. She is undocumented, but dreams of practicing medicine in the United States (the only country she’s ever known). In the face of growing anti-immigrant sentiment she worries her dream may be slipping away.

WHEN: April 11- April 20, WHERE: Playhouse on the Park, 1850 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ, 85004, and (Palm & Central)

INFO: Call 602-460-1374 or email or visit

TICKETS: Standard ticket prices will range from $10 to $16 and will be available at the door or online in advance via or at

While some watched the play others roamed the upper floors enjoying the visual arts on exhibition. More than 300 pieces of art were on display on the fourth though eighth floors of the center. Tours are self-guided, and some artists will be available to talk about their work.

Artist and professor, Dr. Eugene Grigsby, taught at Arizona State University for 20 years and spent two decades teaching in Phoenix public schools.

In other areas of this ASU Downtown facility children’s community music programs were being performed. The day’s events were an amazing way to bridge all generations and cultural backgrounds of community citizens that surround this college campus.

Meanwhile Melanie and Judy finished up the evening with photo documentation that was left behind for many to enjoy.

Before the night was over Malissa Geer who volunteered much of her time to help assist with the day’s events cleaned up all and put everything back in place along with her volunteer assistants to ready for the day of classes early Monday morning. Malissa was recently the recipient of the YWCA 2008 Award as an Emerging Leader.

We all thank Malissa for her passion and visionary work that drives many toward resolve of Health, Social and Economic community injustices.