Category Archives: Social Justice

Roosevelt alumna Jacqueline Granat traveled to India for polio summit

The Wilmette Beacon reported that Roosevelt’s own Jacqueline “Jackie” Granat (BA, ’61), a member of the Wilmette Rotary Club, joined Rotary International’s mass polio vaccination program and conference in India.

Click here to read the full article on Granat’s work as well as the Rotary International.

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Roosevelt alumnus Israel Vargas will be featured on PBS’s “Chicago Tonight” on March 1, 2012

Roosevelt University alumnus Israel Vargas will be featured on PBS’s Chicago Tonight. For more information, please visit Chicago Tonight‘s Website by click here.

Vargas is the executive director of San Jose Obrero Mission, a Pilsen-area nonprofit in Chicago that works to help men, women and children in crisis, helping in securing housing, vocational training as well as job placement assistance.

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Film Screening and Discusstion: Steve James’ documentary “The Interrupters”

Film screening and discussion: The Interrupters

Friday, February 24, 5:30pm.
Schaumburg Campus, Alumni Hall

Panelists: Tio Hardiman, CeaseFire; Eduardo Bocanegra and Ameen Matthews, Violence Interrupters; Carlos Rodriguez, OMNI Youth Services

The Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation is sponsoring a Pipeline Film Series focusing on the connection between race, the prison pipeline, and lifelong outcomes. The Interrupters documentary by Steve James, director of Hoop Dreams and Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here, tells the story of three “violence interrupters” in Chicago who now protect their communities from the violence that they once employed.

This event is free and open to the public, but requires an RSVP to Nikita Stange, nstange@roosevelt.edu. Visit ww.roosevelt.edu/misjt for more information.

This event is sponsored by: MISJT, College of Arts and Sciences, the Office of the Schaumburg Campus Provost, the Center for Campus Life and the Office of Community Engagement.

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Prof. Paul Green event a success

The Southside chapter of the Roosevelt University Alumni Association hosted The Odds on President Barack Obama Winning a Second Term presented by distinguished faculty member, Director of the Institute for Politics and Arthur Rubloff Professor of Policy Studies, Paul Green. Prof. Green, an analyst for WGN Radio, guest columnist for the Daily Herald and author of several books spoke in front of a group of alumni, students, faculty and staff, and friends. He discussed the current presidential elections and shared his thoughts on both parties and their chances of prevailing in November.

After an introduction by Southside Alumni Chapter President Julius Rhodes, Green took the lectern and spoke about President Obama’s campaign and what obstacles it will have to face in the general election. Green also discussed the slate of Republican candidates – including highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the two frontrunners, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. He presented scenarios for each candidate, pinpointing what possible factors would lead to victory for each. Green’s talk also included historical information about presidential primaries and political conventions, which provided context for the facts he shared with the audience. After his prepared remarks, Green took questions from the audience, offering his opinions on various issues that will possibly influence the 2012 presidential election, including social conservatism, race and religion, and foreign policy. The event was a great success, and Prof. Green’s talk was received with enthusiasm and warmth by the assembled guests.

Click here to see more pictures from the event.

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Roosevelt alumna Nancy Cooperman Leventhal: a catalyst for positive change

The Roosevelt University Alumni Blog is thrilled to unveil a new feature: our interview series. Periodically, we’ll shine our spotlight on alums who have made a difference in their community our around the world. If you have a story that you want to share and would like to be part of our alumni blog, please feel free to email us at alum@roosevelt.edu – who knows, maybe you’ll be our next subject!

For our first interview, we’re talking with Roosevelt alumna, Nancy Cooperman Leventhal (BA, ’56), a College of Education graduate who truly exemplifies Roosevelt University’s mission of social justice. She’s used her professional and personal life for social betterment: whether it’s civil rights, labor rights or gay rights, Nancy Levental makes sure she’s always joining in or leading the call for social justice. A proud straight ally for the gay community, she’s very proud of her membership in the Ladera GLBT Club.

In an emailed interview, Leventhal tells us what Roosevelt meant to her and why social activism is so important to her.

Roosevelt University: You mentioned allegiance to different civic and social justice organizations. What was your inspiration to join these groups? What inspired your efforts?
Nancy Leventhal: I realized early on that there was a power behind an organization and working with others of like mind. I do, however, choose my “battles” carefully, balancing strong emotion with the reality of being effective. I have strong opinions on most subjects relating to civic matters and social justice – before, during, and since Roosevelt. I am currently involved with Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

RU: You talked about a case you won with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, regarding the Brown Act [an act of the California State  Legislature that guarantees the public right to attend and participate in meetings of local legislative bodies] and open school board meetings. Why did you feel it important to champion the cause?
NL: After working hard and successfully recalling a religious right school board, the newly elected members used the gavel to silence me when I criticized the new superintendent. According to the Ralph M. Brown Act, it was not clear whether I could speak about him [the superintendent] in public, but the school board had to do it in closed session. We prevailed “overwhelmingly” in Federal Court, the judge also stating that ‘The Brown Act can’t trump the Constitution’.”

RU: You said that Roosevelt University was your first true exposure to racial diversity. What was your initial response to the racial diversity of Roosevelt? How important was the racial diversity in your life after Roosevelt?
NL: Having been a Jewish child during WWII, I experienced a great deal of prejudice. My only experience with people of color was limited to family employees. Even at previous schools I did not have that exposure. I feel that while I was at Roosevelt, I moved into a comfort zone which has been an important part of my life and social activism since then.

RU: Tell us more about what you meant when you said Roosevelt University gave you a sense of freedom.
NL: I think I was referring to a sense of freedom in my teaching style. A project in class in the teaching of social studies gave me a whole new outlook. We each had to show how we would teach all subjects through one of the activities of daily life – eating, sleeping, walking, etc. I used that approach in second grade through sixth grade classes. I have since taught adult school classes in art, classes for senior citizens in crafts and through Pepperdine, extension-taught weekend workshops for teachers to qualify for certificate renewal – everything from indoor gardening and the use of ethnic arts in the classroom.

RU: You talk about your happy experience with Tapestry, the Unitarian Congregation that you are working with; how did you find Tapestry and what drew you to the organization?
NL: I found Tapestry when the minister at the time was criticized on my community bulletin board for riding the bus for equality in marriage. Three ministers later, we have officially become a “welcoming congregation” – open to people of all sexual orientations, beliefs and colors. We have a very active social action group. Simply stated, those of us who are straight are “straight, but not narrow.” We focus on “earthly deeds, not heavenly aspirations.”

RU: You wrote about your academic experience – you were a very successful student – what was the reason you worked so hard?
NL: Honestly, I wanted to get out on my own and move to the West Coast as quickly as possible! Because of my good grades, I was allowed to carry a heavy academic load and graduate from a summer session and began teaching about a week later in California – before I turned 21!

RU: Do you see the same inspiration and committment to social justice in your children and grandchildren?
NL: My daughter has a desire to “give back.” In her 40′s she became a cosmetologist. She is currently organizing volunteers and funding to reopen a beauty salon – Evolution - on the grounds of Serenity House, a unique recovery facility for women which allows them to bring their children with them. She is an animal activist and has a business selling cruelty-free feathers, giving part of her earnings to various charities. My granddaughter as a young child wanted to comfort sick children – I responded to my son’s plea for help and reminded him that as a quilter we could make comforters and accomplish that goal. We made and tied many of them for children in our community going through chemotherapy.
My whole family stood on street corners with signs promoting equality in marriage, protesting Proposition 8 (a ballot proposition and constitutional amendment to the California Constitution that bans same-sex marriage), which passed, but has just been ruled unconstitutional.

RU: Your involvement in social activism is extensive and committed. How much of that was inspired by Roosevelt University? How has Roosevelt nurtured your enthusiasm for social betterment?
NL: I really can’t pin down any specifics and I was only at Roosevelt a relatively short time. I would love to know if any of the students in my class are still alive – I will be seventy-seven this year.
I hope to be remembered as always attempting to be a “catalyst for positive change.”

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Roosevelt alumni are invited to attend a talk on the War on Drugs

Roosevelt University’s Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy and the Roosevelt University chapter of the Students for Sensible Drug Policy are hosting Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. Nadelmann will be giving a talk on America’s “War on Drugs,” asking questions about its effectiveness and its repercussions.

Nadelmann, a New York native, received his BA, JD and PhD from Harvard and a MSc in International Relations from the London School of Economics. He’s the author of Cops Across Borders and co-authored Policing the Globe with Peter Andreas;  he has also been published in various journals including the National Review. Nadelmann has earned a reputation as a leading advocate for drug policy reform.

He will be speaking at Roosevelt University on February 7th, 2012, from 4:30 to 6:00pm. The talk will be held in Congress Lounge, 2nd floor in the Auditorium Building. To RSVP for this event, please email kkane@roosevelt.edu.

Roosevelt University is encouraging alumni and their friends to attend the event.

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Distinguished alumnus, Dr. Charles V. Hamilton joins South African Consul General, Ambassador Nomvume Magaqa and Mansfield Institute Director Dr. Heather Dalmage to discuss 100th anniversary of the African National Congress

Dr. Charles V. Hamilton (BA, ’51) esteemed Roosevelt alumnus and retired Columbia University professor of political science joined the South African Consul General, Ambassador Nomvume Magaqa and Dr. Heather Dalmage, Director of the Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation to discuss the 100th anniversary of the African National Congress (ANC). Introduced by Roosevelt’s own Denise Bransford, the panel talk was given at the Murray-Green Library, in the Auditorium Building in the Chicago campus.  

The discussion centered on a number of issues facing South Africa – particularly the philosophy of ubuntu, which concerns itself with the relationships between people, themselves and their communities – a matter of emphasizing the interconnectedness between individuals and the communities around them. After being introduced, Dr. Dalmage shared some of her experiences and work in relation to South Africa and discussed the lack of the feeling of ubuntu among young white South Africans.

Dr. Hamilton discussed the current state of the ANC, and maintained that the perceived dissension in its ranks can actually be a healthy dialogue among its leaders. He pointed to other movements and democracies, including the Civil Rights Movement and highlighted the fact that the leaders and supporters of the Civil Rights Movement were also in conflict at times about tactics. It was important to note that these movements for social betterment and change are not monolithic, but diverse and complex.

During the question and answer portion of the evening the Ambassador pointed to the issue of gender equity in the ANC as well as South Africa. She remarked that she was optimistic about the issue of women’s rights in South Africa, and offered the audience a dose of perspective when pointing out that the female presence in government and business in South Africa is proportionally comparable to that of the United States.

Dr. Hamilton also fielded questions and talked about the African-American presence in South Africa – particularly in investment and the business sector. Both he and the Ambassador agreed that real progress was being made with measurable results, but that because South Africa’s democracy is very young, it takes time and will not be achieved in monumental sweeps. The Q&A also moved into a discussion about social movements in general and how they are practiced.

The event was well-attended and the panelists were warmly welcomed. Because Dr. Hamilton is an alumnus, this was a family reunion of sorts, and many of his admirers and supporters were in attendance. In addition, Ambassador Magaqa repeatedly invited members of the audience to visit the South African Consulate for more information.

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Distinguished Roosevelt Alumna Abena Joan Brown has a street named in her honor.

Founder and former president of eta Creative Arts Center, Abena Joan Brown (BA, ’50) was honored on with a street named after her on Chicago’s South Side. Brown is an important force in the Chicago arts community; the eta Creative Arts Center has grown from an organization that served the South Shore Community, to grow in stature and reputation and is according to the Chicago Defender, “a nationally recognized cultural institution.” Brown stepped down as president of eta in March 2011.
Honorary Abena Joan Brown Way is South Chicago Avenue, between 75th and 76th Street.

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Distinguished alumnus, Ambassador Jacques Paul Klein, is awarded honorary degree

Ambassador Jacques Paul Klein (BA, ’63) ( MA, ’71), recipient of an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from Roosevelt in 2005, who served as Under-Secretary General of the United Nations was recently awarded an honorary doctorate from Josip Juraj Strossmayer University in Osijek, Croatia for “his outstanding contribution to the peaceful reintegration of the Croatian Danube Region into the constitutional and legal order of the Republic of Croatia.” At the subsequent ceremony at the Evangelical Theology Faculty in Osijek, Croatia, he was presented with a diploma for “being a transformational leader who demonstrated  clarity of vision, moral conviction and the political will while championing human rights and the development of democracy in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Liberia.”

Klein has a distinguished career in diplomacy working extensively with the Foreign Service, the Department of State and the United Nations. He is also a renown and celebrated professor and academic.

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Leading children’s rights advocate speaks to Roosevelt staff, faculty, alumni and students about education crisis in the U.S.

 Children’s Defense Fund founder and president, Marian Wright Edelman spoke on October 13th, 2011 to a group of Roosevelt faculty, staff, alumni and students about the disparity among black, Latino and white children in the United States. As this year’s Mansfield lecturer, Edelman came to Roosevelt to discuss the ongoing education crisis among children of color, presenting some sobering statistics and offering suggestions on what to do to combat these obstacles.

Edelman came to Roosevelt as part of the Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation initiative, “Scholarship in Action: Disrupting the Prison Pipeline,” which seeks to identify and address the current system of poor and minority youth being funneled “from the cradle to prison.” Introduced by the director of the Mansfield Institute, Heather M. Dalmage, Edelman was welcomed by a warm round of applause. She cited Eleanor Roosevelt as a “personal heroine,” before beginning her talk, in which she shared her experiences in working with the Children’s Defense Fund and the organization’s work in breaking up the “cradle to prison pipeline.” Edelman supported her anecdotal evidence with statistics that highlight the dire consequences of inequities in education and healthcare. She coined the widened gap of income and social inequality a new kind of apartheid.

                                              Because of inclement weather, Edelman came late, and so there was no time for questions or discussion after her talk. Her speech was received enthusiastically, interrupted frequently by bursts of spontaneous applause. She left the lectern to a standing ovation.

                                              For more information on the Children’s Defense Fund, please visit its Website: http://www.childrensdefense.org/home.html.

                                              For more information on the Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation, and for additional information on “Scholarship in Action: Disrupting the Prison Pipeline,” please visit http://www.roosevelt.edu/MISJT.aspx.

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