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Recap on Activism & Advocacy: Local and Global Perspectives

By: Bianca Viana

A virtual panel discussion titled “Activism & Advocacy: Local and Global Perspectives” was hosted on Tuesday October 13 by Professors Tatiana Bryant and Peter DeBartolo of the Levermore Global Scholars (LGS) program, Rabbi Glenn Jacob and Liam Elkind. The panel discussed just how students can take their ideas for action and really turn them into a reality. There were about 30 students on the call.

Bryant discussed the history of civil rights activism on Adelphi University’s campus. DeBartolo, who is also the administrative director to the LGS program, spoke about the different methods of activism that exist. Rabbi Jacob, who is the executive director of NY Interfaith Power and Light, as well as a LGS adjunct professor and Jewish Chaplain at Adelphi’s Interfaith Center, talked about his notable history for climate change at the New York Senate, and his past history of activism. Elkind, a co-founder of Invisible Hands, explained how and why he felt it was really important to start a non-profit to help secure groceries and other essentials to those of vulnerable communities during the Covid-19 pandemic.

This event was insightful and helped to shine a light on all of the different ways in which activism exists. In light of recent times we have come to see just how powerful our voices can be, and why it is important to take action and advocate for our ideas and beliefs. Bryant began by sharing the long-standing history on Adelphi’s campus, in particular during the Civil Rights Movement. She shared some of the many important events held on campus by students in the sixties and seventies.

This photo was used on the promotional materials about the event

“Black [students held a] takeover of Levermore in the late sixties in demand of a Black Studies program [at Adelphi University}, [they demanded] the hiring of Black faculty, the establishment of scholarships for Black and Brown students, desegregating student housing, and anti-discriminatory admission policies,” she said.

Adelphi has a history of activism and it is one that many students probably don’t know much about. Bryant added. “Students should know that historically and currently campuses (students and faculty) are integral to and engaged in political and social movements of their times.”

Bryant urged students: “Make an effort to escape the filter bubbles social networks and Google algorithms have personalized for you. And take time to connect with students on campus, as well as at other colleges and universities locally and beyond. The events we experience now are interconnected, a part of ongoing legacies.”

Although The Delphian is the voice of the students, Bryant said it did not always do enough to bring light to the social injustices that were occurring on campus, especially in the sixties and seventies. “After decades of dissatisfaction with inadequate coverage in The Delphian, Black Adelphi students created their own student newspaper in the 1980s, `Afrika Unbound,’ which ran for years.”

Bryant added that in addition to being the voice for Black students on campus, the paper celebrated Black culture and offered Black students a space to give advice on making it through college and dealing with racism. “Afrika Unbound” stopped publications in 2000. However, all of their issues are accessible through the university’s Archives and Special Collections.

DeBartolo discussed exactly what social activism really is about at its core, describing it as “putting indirect pressure on trying to get the decision makers attention.” He said there are many different methods of activism aside from some of the more commonly seen ones such as protesting, marching and picketing. DeBartolo mentioned that there are over 198 tactics of nonviolent resistance accessible to all.

DeBartolo said there are many resources available to Adelphi students on campus in regard to being able to take action surrounding the social injustices facing many today.

Adelphi offers students many ways to get involved in combating social and global injustice,” he said. “The Collaboration Project, The Center for African, Black & Caribbean Studies, The Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity, and the Levermore Global Scholars Program are all just a few of the various resources available to our students. Each has its own unique history with this work and also brings distinct strengths and opportunities to the campus community.”

He added that The Collaboration Project has been a campus leader in this work for many years. “ Countless faculty, students, administrators, and staff have united under its banner to fight for human rights, social justice and equity. They've collaboratively planned, organized and supported numerous campus events, programs and projects, such as the Racial Justice Matters initiative, among many others,” he said.

DeBartolo said the LGS program continues to be a key resource for students interested in positive social change in our world. “Additionally, we offer various experiential learning opportunities through which students can gain meaningful training, mentorship, skills and experience in connection with community-based organizations, social justice projects and nonprofit advocacy campaigns…[LGS is] very [invested] in helping [students] make a difference in their own way."

Students at Adelphi and other campuses are the future and they also carry the responsibility of advocating for change. DeBartolo said, "Students always have a lot more power than they realize. They have been the key to many social movements throughout U.S. history, and they continue to be a crucial part of the movements for racial justice, climate change action [and other important social issues] in this country."

In a conversation with The Delphian after the event DeBartolo said, “In this season of crises and uncertainties, we must also realize that we have a unique opportunity right now to rethink, reevaluate and restructure current systems and dominant patterns of behavior that don't serve humanity. A better world is possible and, by elevating the voices and experiences of change-makers, activists, innovators and advocates, it is [the] hope [of LGS] that students will become inspired and involved in helping to create more just and sustainable societies."

Annaliese Lewis, a sophomore nursing major, said that she left the event, “[feeling] so empowered after listening to what [was said], I felt as though I had the power to change the world in my hands. Overall it was a very encouraging and inspiring discussion around activism.”

Gabriella Palumbo, a sophomore STEP major, said, “I left feeling inspired to do more. It opened my eyes [I realized that] through collective action, positive change can happen.”

LGS holds many events each semester geared towards educating the Adelphi community and raising awareness to current issues. These events are open to all students.

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