Reflections on Past Symposia

BY JENNIFER MALAT

As we look forward to the symposium on March 1, I have been reflecting on the lessons from prior symposia. Last year, Yvette Simpson gave the keynote address. She explained that the journey to justice is neither a sprint nor a marathon. Instead, it is a relay in which we work with others to achieve our goals. Different people will carry the baton at various points in the journey. Her point resonates on many levels. For The Cincinnati Project, it reminds us that we have a specific role to play in our city. We should take the baton when the particular skills and resources of a university are needed. Others can rest and regroup knowing that they can rely on us for our part. We’re pleased to be trusted to help move the team forward.

Other important lessons have come from symposia. Two years ago, Patricia Hill Collins attended the conference as the keynote speaker. She responded to a presentation by asking how the UC researchers understand and manage their expertise and the expertise of the community members with whom they work. The discussion that followed was valuable, but time was too short to fully address the multiple layers of the question. It inspired us to organize a panel the following year entitled, “Power, Progress, and Partnerships” in which we spent an hour engaging with these questions. Christina Brown moderated a panel that included Iris Roley, Jeniece Jones, Shaunak Sastry, Farrah Jacquez, and Brian Calfano. Representing a variety of points of view, the panelists discussed how they manage power differences, which may change at different points in a project, and come together for a successful outcome.

I look forward to the lessons of this year’s symposium. We will hear from undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, and community activists. A panel will discuss objectivity and scholar-activist work; another will describe partnerships from first meeting to policy change; we will hear about completed research projects; and we will conclude with a call to action from women of color who are activists in Cincinnati. Their call follows a year of The Cincinnati Project amplifying the voices of women of color in Cincinnati with the exhibit “What Is and What Can Be: Women of Color and the Struggle for Justice in Cincinnati.” (The exhibit will be on display in TUC in the two weeks before the symposium. Check it out!)

Please join us for this year’s symposium. We are grateful for the lessons of each year’s symposium. We look forward to the insights that emerge this year.

jmalatReflections on Past Symposia