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Innovative Inclusion: Reconnecting and Rebooting for Social Justice - Des Moines Civil and Human Rights Symposium 2022

Des Moines Civil and Human Rights Symposium

July 25, 2022

The Des Moines Civil and Human Rights annual symposium is a big deal. Guaranteed to be thought-provoking, educational and inspiring, the symposium is a space where people from all walks of life in Greater Des Moines (DSM) come together to co-learn about civil rights and social justice issues. After being on hold for 2020 and 2021 due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we’re proud to be able to bring it back in 2022 in a whole new format on Friday, Aug. 5 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. The theme for this year’s symposium is Innovative Inclusion: Reconnecting & Rebooting for Social Justice.

About the Symposium

Highlighting the social injustice exacerbated by the pandemic, the symposium organizers seek to identify the gaps and barriers that continue to disproportionately impact our marginalized community members, while also working to provide potential pathways to solutions. We believe that in order to reconnect and reboot to address social injustice as a community, we must overcome stumbling blocks in navigating an unjust system, strategize creative activism and be innovative in achieving inclusivity. We have organized four symposium tracks based on that belief:

  • Health & Wellness: The Healing Effect of a Community
  • Social Justice in Systems & Schools: Liberating Education
  • Voices from our Youth: Creating Socially Just Spaces
  • Art as Activism: Storytelling, Poetry and Music.

This year’s symposium is unique for several reasons. For one, it’s the first time that it has ever been a virtual event. It was previously held at Des Moines University where we had hundreds of attendees coming together under one roof. However, due to COVID-19, we are making the transition to a virtual event. Nevertheless, this year’s symposium will still be educational and engaging with a dynamic group of presenters.

For each symposium, we strive to have a diverse group of speakers from both our local area and from around the country. Our keynote presentation this year will be an interview with Dr. Darrick Hamilton. Hamilton is the Henry Cohen Professor of Economics and Urban Policy and the founding director of the Institute for the Study of Race, Power and Political Economy at The New School. He is one of the nation’s foremost scholars, economists and public intellectuals. He’s been involved in crafting policy proposals, such as Baby Bonds and a Federal Job Guarantee, which have garnered a great deal of media attention and served as inspiration for legislative proposals at the federal, state and local levels.

We will have local speakers from several #DSMUSA community organizations, including Jai Olive Wellness, Artforce Iowa, Please Pass the Love, CORE for Advancement and more. We’re also being intentional about including more youth voices, and some of our adult presenters have included youth in their presentations. Our Voices from our Youth track is completely led by youth, representing groups such as SACRE (Students Advancing Civil Rights Education), Polk County Youth Action Council and CORE (Community of Racial Equity for Advancement).

Another unique aspect of this year’s event is a live musical performance by Lore. Lore (they/them) is a lifelong musician and jack of all trades, born and raised in Keosauqua and currently residing in Fairfield, where opportunities to listen to live music or perform for others are never in short supply. Steeped in various musical styles, and possessing a “modest mastery” of many instruments, their eclectic repertoire is sure to please most!

To view a full list of presenters, visit our website at DSM.city/CHRSymposium.

The night before the symposium, there will also be a kick-off panel event held virtually via Zoom. We’ll hear from panelists with a variety of expertise in each of the symposium tracks. Panelists include Brandi L. Miller (Co-founder/President of Black Women 4 Healthy Living), Travis Gratteau-Zinnel (Doctoral candidate at Iowa State University in the Social and Cultural Studies of Education program), Sonia Reyes (President and CEO of the Reyes Equity Institute), Jordan Brooks (a creator and owner of KNWSLF (pronounced Know Self)) and Orlando Fuentes (Drake University student, |drem|sed| program leader and Al Exito youth mental health taskforce member). The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 4. Sign up via the symposium registration site to receive a special link to the event.

We are striving to be as inclusive as possible with this virtual event. Community members with limited internet access or those who wish to watch the event in-person with others are welcome to gather in the viewing rooms available at Drake University Olmsted Center. Those that are interested in utilizing the space can select that option during registration. ASL interpretation and closed captioning will also be utilized throughout the event.

Registration Details

General admission tickets are $10, but students and those seeking a financial hardship exemption can email humanrights@dmgov.org or call our office at (515) 283-4284 to receive free admission through a special registration access code. The price of the symposium ticket includes admission to the kick-off panel event.

This year’s Civil & Human Rights Symposium will, indeed, be special, and we hope you’re just as excited as we are about it. We hope to see you there!

The Greater Des Moines Partnership calendar of events is a one-stop resource for activities taking place throughout the region. Find networking information for Greater Des Moines (DSM) businesses or events specific to Downtown DSM.

Greater Des Moines (DSM) welcomes diverse talent to the region. As one of the fastest growing business communities, inclusion and attracting diverse talent in the workplace is a key strategy of the Greater Des Moines Partnership. Learn more here.

Holly Wilkens

Holly Wilkens is the Community Relations Specialist for the Des Moines Civil and Human Rights Department. Holly has been with the department since 2019, joining the team as an AmeriCorps VISTA. In her current role, she focuses on equitable community outreach and engagement and event coordination.