Advocating the need for social justice

Haley Olson, Staff Writer

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Veteran of civil rights and workers’ rights movements, social justice advocate and activist Rosalyn Pelles appeared at UND on Oct. 13, 2016 in room 113 located in the Education building.

Pelles addressed activism and how it works. More specifically from the past, the present, and the future of advocacy work. She has been an advocate for the last 50 years and started as a teenager living in North Carolina.

“We need to be taking action with goals of social justice. It is more important than ever now to be taking action and not to be silenced.” Pelles said. “We need advocates in every generation.”

“Pelles went on to talk about the courage needed as an activist and advocate. “Activisms take many forms. From letters and handing out flyers to signing petitions.”

Pelles went on to explain problems of the government and flaws in the governmental system and her life as an advocate during earlier generations. After Pelles speech, she left room for an ask-and-tell discussion. Questions were asked from facility and students to members of the community.

Questions ranging from “How do you balance activism and your personal life?” to “What should we be thriving for as a higher educational system? What are the resources we can use?”

One question was raised by a student: “How do you bring awareness to a community in a place where change does not occur?” Pelles responded. “It’s hard. It’s a one by one process, two by two, and so on and so forth. People are open for change.”

The discussion lasted until 8:30 p.m. The presentation was organized by the Black Student Association on campus. This is the second event organized by the Black Student Association; the first event prior to the presentation was a diversity dialogue that was held on campus.

“We are not holding back anymore,” President of the Black Student Association Lauren Chapple stated.

When asked how Black Lives Matter is affecting UND, Chapple responded, “If there is no conversation happening, there is no acknowledgement or idea that this stuff is happening. It brings awareness and attention to the issues. I come to UND and it affects me.”

Chapple and Pelles both had similar viewpoints pertaining to higher education and the awareness of activism. “We can learn to speak out in a safe environment, especially on a campus,” Pelles stated.

“We need to bring the hard conversations to campus and we need to be listening,” Chapple said. “We are remaining uncomfortable. This isn’t the first time and it will not be the last time.”

The Black Student Association is planning more events in the future to help bring awareness. The organization is not inclusive and is open to every individual interested in joining. For more information on contacts, events or participation, you can contact the student involvement email at  [email protected]

haley Olson is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]

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