University of Southern Indiana

Mandela Social Justice Day

The mission of the Nelson Mandela Social Justice Day and Speaker Series is to raise dialogue at USI around current issues of human and civil rights, public service, and activism through diverse, dynamic, nationally, and internationally known public intellectuals and academics.  We aim to augment each speaker’s visit with a day of educational opportunities for the USI community.  In these activities we hope to commemorate Nelson Mandela, an internationalist educator, activist, and champion of human and civil rights.

Nelson Mandela was a South African Nationalist, a democratic socialist, an anti-colonial freedom fighter, an anti-racist activist, and a political prisoner for a third of his long life.  He was imprisoned for his efforts to liberate South Africans from apartheid, racism, and colonialism.  In addition to fighting in these struggles, he also played a crucial part in reconciliation efforts and the recreation of South Africa as an inter-racial democracy.  His legacy is inspirational to those who seek a world in which social justice reigns, and human rights issues guide our leaders to create better societies.

Mandela Social Justice Commemoration Day 2019

Keynote Speaker: Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
USI Performance Center
6 p.m., February 26, 2019

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, author and assistant professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, is a widely sought after public speaker and writer. In 2016, she was named one of the 100 most influential African Americans in the United States by The Root. She has been appointed as a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians for 2018-19, and the Charles H. McIlwain University Preceptor at Princeton University for 2018-21. Her writing has been published in the New York Times; the Los Angeles Times; Boston Review; Paris Review; Guardian; The Nation; Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society; Jacobin and beyond.

This event is free and open to the public. Please contact Sakina Hughes at if you have any questions.

Mandela Social Justice Commemoration Day 2018

Keynote Speaker: Tia Oso
Carter Hall
6 p.m., February 21, 2018

Tia Oso is a speaker, writer, and Community Engagement professional specializing in Social Change initiatives. A dynamic social justice leader, Ms. Oso has organized campaigns such as "Not in Our State" and "PHX For Trayvon" mobilizing thousands of advocates for various issues in the public interest. This "desert diva" was born and raised in Mesa, AZ and now resides in Los Angeles, CA. Ms. Oso is sought after though leader on issues of social justice. 

In her role as National Organizer at the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, the nation's only Black-led immigrant rights organization, Tia leads African-American and Black immigrant communities in developing strategies for progresssive wins in racial justice and migrant rights. 


Tia Oso

Mandela Social Justice Commemoration Day 2016/17

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Cornel West
Carter Hall
October 12, 2016

Cornel West is a prominent and provocative democratic intellectual. He is a Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice at Union Theological Seminary and Professor Emeritus at Princeton University. He has also taught at Yale, Harvard, and the University of Paris. Cornel West graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard in three years and obtained his M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy at Princeton. He has written over 20 books and has edited 13. Though he is best known for his classics, Race Matters and Democracy Matters, and for his memoir, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud, his most recent releases, Black Prophetic Fire and Radical King, were received with critical acclaim.


Evansville African American Museum Traveling Exhibits on Race and Civil Rights
2pm - 8pm October 12 in the Carter Hall Atrium.

Cracking the Code: The System of Racial Inequality

A Film and Discussion
11am - 1pm October 12 in UC 2217-2218

Here is the USI flyer.

Why a Social Justice Day and Speaker Series?

The annual Nelson Mandela Commemoration is a speaker series that directly addresses social justice issues that affect the local or national community. As USI expands its student population, questions of diversity will come into an even starker relief on campus, and this series aims to address some of those issues, helping to  prepare students to live wisely in a diverse, global community.

Committee Members 2016/17: 

Co-Chairs: Sakina Hughes (History), Denise Lynn (History)
Members:  Aimee Adam (Psychology), Timberly Baker (Teacher Education), Stephanie Cunningham (Counseling Center), Ashley Evearitt (Counseling Center)Adrian Gentle (Mathematics), Pam Hopson (Multicultural Center), Joy Howard (Teacher Education), Veronica Huggins (Social Work), Karen Huseman (Housing and Residence Life), Joseph Uduehi (Art and Design), Lovey Marshall (Housing and Residence Life).

Previous Speakers

Contact Sakina Hughes


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