Social Justice, Real Justice at UO

The roster of speakers for the UO’s Social Justice Real Justice (SJRJ) conference reads like an all-star cast of activists, journalists and thinkers. From national luminaries, including Cornell West and Winona LaDuke, to activists fomenting change on a local level such as Eugene’s Michael Carrigan and Jason “Pleado” Wellman, the Feb. 14-17 conference is loaded with issues, causes and ideas.

SJRJ aims to “promote personal growth, leadership development, cultural pluralism, community education, positive social change and the ending of human oppression by exploring ways to mobilize and organize,” according to its organizers.

Samantha Klotz of the UO Multicultural Center, which is one of the conference sponsors, says that 2,000 people have already registered for the events. Some talks are expected to fill rooms to capacity. The conference kicks off with caucuses for women of color, LGBTQ, people of color and their allies, and the first day’s keynoter is civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, who together with Cesar Chavez founded United Farm Workers.

On Feb. 15, sex trafficking survivor Carissa Phelps will share her story — trafficked at age 12 and later spending time in juvenile hall, Phelps went on to finish high school, go to college and get a law degree and an MBA from UCLA. She wrote a book, Runaway Girl, about her experiences, Klotz says. The book is for sale at the UO Duck Store. “It’s rare to find survivors who even want to tell their story,” Klotz says.

Panels include journalists on drones, media spin and the Middle East with Reese Erlich, Norman Solomon and David Barsamian; other panels address community organizing, indigenous issues, hegemony and hip hop, raw foods and immigration. The full list of panels and speakers is available at and registration is free. — Camilla Mortensen