‘Migration Matters’ takes on elections, law & language March 29

U.S.-Mexico border
The U.S.-Mexico border, as seen from space.

SMU’s “Migration Matters” series continues Thursday, March 29, 2012, with its fourth event – a panel discussion of “Elections, the Law and Languages at the Border.”

The discussion, free and open to the public, takes place 5:30-7:30 p.m. in McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall.

Featured speakers include:

The seven-part series, running through April 26, features compelling and knowledgeable artists, educators, faith leaders and law enforcement insiders to share the latest information on border-related migration trends, crime, politics, humanitarian efforts, art and literature. All events are free and open to the community.

For more information about this event or others in the series, contact “Migration Matters” coordinator Jayson Gonzales Sae-Saue, Department of English, Dedman College, 214-768-4369.

> Find a complete “Migration Matters” schedule at SMU News

‘Migration Matters’ series continues with ‘Border Myths’ Feb. 22

Is there a real threat of Islamic terrorists crossing into the United States from Mexico? Is the Mexican justice system doing everything it can to curb drug cartel violence? And is America enabling U.S.-Mexico border problems by providing too many willing illegal drug buyers and too-easy access to assault weapons?

U.S.-Mexico border
U.S.-Mexico border as seen from space.

A noted panel of U.S.-Mexico border scholars will explore these issues Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012 in “Barbed-Wire Art, Border Myths and Immigration Violence,” the third event in SMU’s interdisciplinary “Migration Matters” series. The discussion, free and open to the public, takes place 5:30–7:30 p.m. in McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall.

Featured speakers include:

  • Maria Herrera-Sobek, professor of Chicana/o studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Josiah Heyman, anthropology professor at the University of Texas, El Paso
  • Roberto Villalon, sociology professor at St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in New York.

The panel will examine how and why negative myths continue to circulate around immigration and the U.S-Mexico border despite reliable information proving them false, says “Migration Matters” coordinator Jayson Gonzales Sae-Saue, an English professor specializing in Chicano/a literature in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. “The panel will also address how pictorial narrative is a powerful means by which artists have attempted to make visible the conditions that reductionist rhetoric and myths obscure,” he says.

Migration Matters lecture series at SMUUTEP professor Heyman proposes that people re-examine such images and stereotypes in two ways: “Where do they come from,” he asks, “and how do we achieve a more critical, complex understanding of them?”

For more information about this event or others in the series, contact Jayson Gonzales Sae-Saue, 214-768-4369.

Written by Denise Gee

Meadows symposium focuses on human rights with filmmaker Patrick Mureithi

Patrick MureithiAward-winning documentary filmmaker Patrick Mureithi (pictured right) is the special guest for SMU’s third annual Communicating Excellence Symposium, “Better Communication for Better Leaders on Human Rights.” The Division of Communication Studies in Meadows School of the Arts presents the 2011 symposium March 7-9 in Owen Arts Center.

The three-day symposium focuses on communication issues affecting the struggle for human rights. Mureithi will host a screening of his film ICYIZERE: hope, a documentary about a gathering of survivors and perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide. Mureithi, who currently serves as artist-in-residence at Drury University in Springfield, Missouri, will lead a discussion after the 55-minute screening.

All symposium events are open to the public. Admission is free, and no reservations are necessary. For more information, call Rebecca Hewitt, 214-768-1574.

Symposium schedule:

Monday, March 7 – Lecture: “Death as a Text: The Rhetoric of Genocide”
7 p.m. reception – Greer Garson Theatre, Mezzanine Lobby – Second Floor
7:30 p.m. lecture – Greer Garson Theatre, Room 3527 – Third Floor
Ben Voth, chair of the Division of Communication Studies, will address communication’s role in creating, containing and resolving the international problems of genocide and “eliminationism.”

Tuesday, March 8 – Debate: “U.S. intervention in humanitarian crises?”
7 p.m. debate – O’Donnell Auditorium, Room 2130 – Second Floor
8 p.m. reception – Taubman Atrium – First Floor
The SMU debate team will discuss the pros and cons of a possible new U.S. policy of humanitarian intervention.

Wednesday, March 9 – Film ICYIZERE: hope and discussion with guest filmmaker Patrick Mureithi
7 p.m. screening – O’Donnell Auditorium, Room 2130 – Second Floor
8:30 p.m. reception – Taubman Atrium – First Floor
Award-winning documentary filmmaker Mureithi, a Kenyan native, traveled to Rwanda to film a gathering of 10 survivors and 10 perpetrators of the 1994 genocide. ICYIZERE: hope documents the experiences of the participants as they are taught about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and go through a series of group exercises to help build trust. The film also explores how the media was used to incite fear, hatred and ultimately genocide, and the filmmaker’s belief that media can similarly be used to unite and to heal. The film has been shown to audiences throughout Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States and has received widespread acclaim.

Birmingham bombing survivor Junie Collins Williams to speak at SMU Feb. 17

Junie Collins WilliamsJunie Collins Williams (pictured left) survived the infamous Alabama church bombing that killed one of her sisters and maimed another. Her story of survival – and the lessons she believes are important for younger generations – will be front and center during “Journey to Peace: An Eyewitness Account of the 1963 Birmingham Church Bombing.” The event takes place Thursday, Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. in McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall.

The lecture is free and open to the public and is sponsored by SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program in collaboration with SMU’s Association of Black Students. Williams’ visit is part of the University’s observance of Black History Month.

Birmingham church bombing victims Cynthia Wesley, Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair and Carol RobertsonAddie Mae Collins died with three other little girls (pictured right) in the bombing of Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church Sept. 15, 1963. The assault on the predominantly African American church was orchestrated by the Ku Klux Klan, who were outraged by the desegregation of Birmingham’s schools. Not only did Addie Mae perish, but Williams had to identify her body. Another sister, Sarah Jean Collins, lost an eye in the attack.

The last remaining terrorists responsible for the bombing were prosecuted in 2001, but Williams struggled with feelings of hatred for decades. She leaned on the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King to help accept a nonviolent stance. She also leaned on her family’s powerful belief in God – instilled in her at an early age – to help embrace forgiveness as an important guiding principle in life.

“I could have let this situation get the best of me, but through God’s work in me, I pushed my way through until what seemed to be a burden around my head was pushed off,” she says. “God took a day that was meant for evil and turned it around for the good of all.”

According to SMU Human Rights Program Director Rick Halperin, hate crimes such as last year’s church burnings in east Texas have risen 8 percent since President Barack Obama was elected in 2008. That number continues to jump 4 percent each year, he says.

It’s obvious that America’s struggle with accepting human rights is not over, Halperin adds. “That’s the real message of (Williams’) visit. This country is nowhere near the fully accepting nation that it could become. It’s better, but better doesn’t mean sufficient.”

Williams, who recently moved to San Antonio, believes there is hope for healing in America: “I know, because I have been healed.”

Written by Denise Gee

> Read more from SMU News
> Find a complete schedule for SMU’s Black History Month 2011
> Visit SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program online
> Learn more about SMU diversity programs from Student Activities & Multicultural Student Affairs (SAMSA)

Research Spotlight: U.S. move toward restitution has global precedent

Navajo mother and children, David deHarport, National Park Service Historic Photo CollectionA growing global movement to apologize and make restitution to victims of human rights abuses is now gathering steam in the United States, but it won’t be a first for the country, says the president of The Western History Association.

“In reviewing the history of reconciliation in the American West, I’ve found three examples of government restitution – where we acknowledge we’ve participated in human rights abuses and offered either an apology, restitution, reparation or all three,” says Sherry Smith, associate director of SMU’s Clements Center for Southwest Studies and a professor in the University’s William P. Clements Department of History, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.

The state of Montana granted posthumous pardons to Germans and Austrians convicted and imprisoned under repressive sedition laws during World War I; the U.S. government paid reparations to the heirs of Japanese Americans relocated to incarceration camps during World War II; and in a landmark native-lands case, Arizona returned 6,000 acres to the Hualapai tribe in the 1940s and the U.S. government set up the Indian Claims Commission.

“These are tiny steps considering the magnitude of the problem. But they helped turn the corner of deep injustice,” Smith says. “It’s never too late to do the right thing.” (Left, a Navajo mother and children in the door of a hogan, David deHarport, National Park Service Historic Photo Collection.)

Read more at the SMU Research blog