Eastern Michigan University to launch Civil Rights & Social Justice Center pilot to empower students and community

Upcoming events will raise awareness of significant moments in civil rights history

Person wearing tennis shoes and jeans standing over Stop Racism word cloud written on the pavement.

YPSILANTI – Joining together for the greater good is the goal of Eastern Michigan University’s new Civil Rights & Social Justice Center pilot, focused on education, improving the justice system, and building equitable and just communities across southeast Michigan. An interdisciplinary team of EMU professors are leading these efforts with plans to launch programming.

“The only way a society can move forward is by understanding the past, which is what the center is positioned to do,” said Barbara Patrick, professor of public administration and policy at EMU. The Center is designed to capture significant moments in civil rights history and introduce them to today’s generation. Additionally, the team plans to host community events to discuss civil rights and social justice issues impacting local communities and determine solutions to address these issues.

A series of programming will begin this month, starting with an event on Monday, March 28, at 6 p.m., featuring Victoria Burton-Harris, chief assistant prosecutor for Washtenaw County, who will explore the work women can and have done to end mass incarceration. Then, the Center will host a workshop at 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 31, to prepare students to engage the needs of vulnerable communities in the workforce. Aaron Rollins, director of the Peace, Justice, and Conflict Transformation Program at the University of Louisville and featured guest, will discuss how law enforcement can create beneficial social media strategies for communities of color.  

Additionally, the Center plans to host a speaker series featuring local and national speakers who can speak to the social justice movement we’re currently experiencing.

“We’re thrilled to begin these important conversations with students and the community to bring people together and create change for future generations,” said Patrick.

Currently, Patrick and her team are seeking funding to obtain a physical center and staff. The team is forming partnerships throughout the state and at historically black colleges to deepen the understanding of social justice on a national level. For more information about the Civil Rights & Social Justice Center, email Dr. Barbara Patrick at bpatric1@emich.edu.

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 16,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and, its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.

March 23, 2022

Written by:
Melissa Thrasher

Media Contact:
Melissa Thrasher