Social Justice Has a Home at I-House
To Our Community,
In the past few weeks people across the world have witnessed the voices of marginalized and oppressed populations confronting head-on the issue of racism against black people in America. As an institution and a global community, International House condemns racism and injustice in all its forms, and for 96 years has spread that ethic through its shared living experience among residents from all cultures and from every corner of the world. We stand in solidarity with the statements and efforts to promote social justice in the United States, as well as movements around the world. Our institution was founded on the belief in the power of diversity and a vision of peace through mutual understanding and respect, and this belief guides International House to this day.
As we approach a century of preparing globally minded leaders, we remain committed to amplifying and supporting members of our community in their work for social justice. Our programming gives residents exposure to these issues from powerful advocates and provocative voices for change from across the world. Recognizing that many of those voices are not given an adequate platform, we are taking this moment to share some of these speakers and conversations we have hosted in recent years, with the hope of bringing them a broader audience, and giving their work more impact.
Click on the links to connect with the speakers.
- Ala’a Basatneh visited in November 2017 for an event called “Choosing a Path to Moral Courage.” Basatneh is a courageous young Syrian activist who has been using social media to connect activists on the ground in Syria with each other, and the international community—all from her laptop in Chicago. Her counterpart in the conversation was Amanda Bailly, a filmmaker based in Beirut, Lebanon who documented the crisis in the film “8 Borders, 8 Days,” which followed a single Syrian mother and her two kids from Beirut to Berlin fleeing with smugglers.
- Jelani Cobb In December 2016, I-House hosted a discussion on “Matters of Race” featuring Jelani Cobb, Professor of Journalism at Columbia University and contributing writer to The New Yorker; Michael Luo, Investigations Editor at The New Yorker and former Deputy Metro Editor at The New York Times; Angela Fernandez, Executive Director and Supervising Attorney of the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights (NMCIR); moderated by Jamia Wilson, Executive Director of Women, Action, & the Media.
- Abigail E. Disney The filmmaker, activist and Emmy-winning director of “The Armor of Light,” sat with us in 2019 for a conversation about her personal and professional journey, film projects and social justice work through the nonprofit she founded, Peace Is Loud, which uses storytelling to advance social movements, and the Daphne Foundation, which supports organizations working for a more equitable, fair and peaceful New York City.
- James Forman, Jr. visited in November 2017 to discuss his book, Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America. The conversation enriched our understanding of why American society became so punitive and offered important lessons about the future of race and the criminal justice system in this country.
- Juan Gonzalez In September 2019 journalist Juan Gonzalez came to discuss the documentary “Harvest of Empire: The Untold Story of Latinos in America,” which was based on his book examining the direct connection between the long history of U.S. intervention in Latin America and the immigration crisis we face.
- Anthony Ray Hinton shared his thoughts on America’s criminal justice system and issues surrounding mass incarceration during a visit in December, 2018 to discuss his book, The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row, a memoir of being wrongfully convicted and serving 30 years in prison in Alabama.
- Cece McDonald. A screening of the documentary “Free CeCe” in November 2017 provided a look into the incarceration of trans women and LGBTQ rights and was followed by a conversation with McDonald and the film’s executive producer and director, Jacqueline Gares, moderated by activist Tiq Milan.
- Samantha Power. At the January 2016 Sunday Supper, the United States Ambassador to the UN sat with Michelle Nichols, United Nations Correspondent for Reuters news service, to discuss the role of the United Nations in modern day international relations.
- Richard Rothstein discussed his book, The Color of Law: A History of How our Government Segregated America, insights and research into how the American federal, state, and local government’s housing policies made the United States two societies, separate and unequal, and used public power to impose unfair, profoundly damaging injuries on African Americans.
- George Takei In February 2016, International House welcomed Takei, the iconic actor, author, and activist, to discuss his experiences with internment of Japanese Americans and how he has been parlaying his creativity and platforms into activism for a wide range of issues concerning the LGBT community and more.
Please note this is in no way intended as a full list. We have so many exceptional speakers and Alumni to learn from — way too many to include here.