Black Lives Matter Conference
Three Loyola graduate students are hoping to build on the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement.
But they’re not taking their message to the streets. Instead, they’re taking it to classrooms and conference halls.
The students—Candace Hairston, Taiwo Adefiyiju, and Daniel Guzman—are the co-founders of the Black Lives Matter Conference at Loyola’s Corboy Law Center. The April 2 event will bring together people from across the country to discuss racism, violence against blacks, and other diversity topics. The goal of the gathering is to learn more about the issues—and to find ways to address the problems.
“A lot of the mission is to be in solidarity with one another,” said Adefiyiju, who is working on her master’s degree in higher education. “We want to educate people about our community, about this movement, and why it’s so important.”
The conference is open to everyone, the co-founders said, not just Loyola students, staff, and faculty members. And while it will certainly address violence against blacks, the conference also will touch on several other topics.
“I want to emphasize that all black lives matter,” said Hairston, who also is getting her graduate degree in higher education. “So we’re not just focusing on one single issue like police brutality. We need to talk about other things like black trans women and failing schools and how that affects black lives. We need to have some really honest conversations about society.”
The conference’s open approach meshes well with Loyola’s “Respect the Conversation” theme, which urges people to speak freely on campus—especially about complex issues.
To that end, several Loyola departments are helping the students get their conference off the ground. Dana Bozeman, program director of the University’s Water Tower Campus Life department, has been the lead advisor for the event and has helped handle some of the logistics.
Other sponsors include the Unity in Diversity Fund, the Division of Student Development, the Center for Experiential Learning, the Center for Human Rights of Children, and the Black Cultural Center.
For Bozeman, the conference was an easy event to support.
“The social justice angle makes it a natural fit for our Ignatian heritage,” she said. “I’m tremendously proud of the students for putting this together. They’ve selected some great—and very important—topics to discuss.”