Native Americans face a variety of injustices including poverty, lack of access to quality health care and education among many others. This year’s J. Paul Taylor Social Justice Symposium will address “Justice for Native Peoples: Historical Trauma, Contemporary Images, and Human Rights” as it marks its 10th anniversary at New Mexico State University on April 3-4.
An annual symposium related to social justice issues is held annually at NMSU in J. Paul Taylor's name and in honor of his lifelong commitments to the people of New Mexico and the region. This year the College of Arts and Sciences and Dean Christa Slaton are sponsoring the event, along with J. Paul Taylor and the Office of NMSU President Garrey Carruthers, the Office of the Provost, the Office of Student Diversity, the Teaching Academy, and the American Indian Program. Arts and Sciences departments of anthropology, government, communication studies, sociology, languages and linguistics and Creative Media Institute are co-sponsors.
The public is invited to attend the event to discuss and exchange ideas about many of the issues native peoples still face.
“Through this event, I hope the audience gains knowledge of the historical trauma that native people have experienced since European contact and how that still has a presence today in their lives, and the obstacles they face as a result,” said Justin McHorse, NMSU’s American Indian Program director. “Primarily, the public is exposed to what’s in the media – the stereotypes.”
Guest speakers include Charlene Teters, artist, teacher and native rights activist; Michael Bird, public health consultant; and keynote speaker Luis Rodriguez, award-winning poet and author. The symposium includes a screening of three films, including “In Whose Honor,” about the sports mascot opposition movement and “Two Year Promise,” a documentary about Chiricahua Apache prisoners of war. “Inequality for All” will also be screened at the close of the symposium.
Kicking off the two-day event is an opening reception at 5 p.m. Thursday, April 3, at the Center for the Arts. The Government Department will present its Social Justice Award at the reception followed by an address by Rodriguez, who will sign copies of his books after his 6:30 p.m. talk at the Center for the Arts.
The symposium will continue at 8:30 a.m. Friday, April 4, at the Corbett Center Student Union auditorium, facilitated by Bird and NMSU anthropology professor Mary Alice Scott. Morning events include the first showing of “Two Year Promise” followed by a panel discussion. Presenters will break for lunch at 11:45 a.m. and the event will continue at 1 p.m. with Charlene Teters and a showing of “In Whose Honor.” A second showing of “Two Year Promise” will be held at the Good Samaritan Village Auditorium at 6:30 p.m.
According to planning committee chair, Lisa Bond-Maupin of the College of Arts and Sciences, since 2005, the J. Paul Taylor Symposium has been held in late March or early April to commemorate the birthday of civil rights activist Cesar Chavez. The symposia are designed to build upon existing university and community partnerships through reciprocal education, outreach and strategizing as part of NMSU’s land-grant mission. Each year scholars, students, community stakeholders and policy makers gather from across the state and region to explore, learn and work together on strategies for reform and justice.
“The history of the symposium is that it’s been a bridge between the community and those of us on campus,” said Neil Harvey, co-organizer and government department head. “Faculty, students, staff and community members are all welcomed to attend.”
In recent years, featured topics have included justice for the women of Juarez, service learning and social justice, justice for children for detained and incarcerated parents, and quality of life initiative of Dona Ana County.