'Making the Future' Festival Examines Human Rights, Activism


Journalist and labor activist Jane LaTour, author of “Sisters in the Brotherhoods,” will visit SUNY Potsdam as part of the “Making the Future” Academic Festival on April 11.

With Earth’s population now exceeding 7 billion and still growing, an understanding of human rights and social change are an essential to anticipating what the years to come will bring.

That’s why the 2013 SUNY Potsdam Academic Festival, which is centered around “Making the Future,” will concentrate on topics such as the empowerment of women, labor rights, antiracism activism, individual impact on sustainability, getting young people involved in politics, and using translation as a human rights tool.

Guest speakers include Jane LaTour, a respected labor activist, journalist and author, who is the former director of the Women’s Project, Association for Union Democracy, and the current associate editor for the Public Employee Press, as well as environmental advocate Dominic Frongillo, one of the youngest elected officials in New York State.

The “Making the Future” Academic Festival at SUNY Potsdam will be offered from Wednesday, April 10 to Saturday, April 13 on campus. All events are free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.potsdam.edu/academicfestival.

Labor rights and female empowerment:

The visiting speakers include Jane LaTour, a journalist and labor activist living in New York City. She has written for various union publications and managed the Women's Project of the Association for Union Democracy. She is a two-time winner of the Mary Heaton Vorse Award, the top labor journalism award in New York City.

There will be a meet and greet with Jane LaTour on Thursday, April 11 from 10 to 11 a.m. in the Learning and Teaching Excellence Center in the Frederick W. Crumb Memorial Library. Former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and LaTour will participate in a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Jaqueline Goodman on Thursday, April 11 from 2 to 3 p.m. in Kellas Hall Room 105. They will discuss Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.”

LaTour will give a public talk about her book, “Sisters in the Brotherhood: Working Women Organizing for Equality,” an oral history-based study of women who, against considerable odds, broke the gender barrier to work in male-dominated blue collar New York City trades. Part of the Anne Righton Malone Lecture Series, the talk will be on Thursday from 4 to 5 p.m. in Kellas 105.

Keynote speaker Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the daughter of Ethel and Robert F. Kennedy and niece of John F. Kennedy, will offer an address entitled “Women Taking Power Seriously,” on Thursday, April 11 at 7:30 p.m. in the Helen M. Hosmer Concert Hall at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music.

Algerian film series:

Visiting Professor of Modern Languages Dr. Abdelkader Cheref will host a film series to illustrate the Algerian struggle for human rights.

On Wednesday, April 10, the College will screen “Days of Glory,” which deals with the inequitable treatment of colonial North African soldiers by the white French forces during World War II, from 9 to 11:30 p.m. in the Knowles Hall Conference Center. On Thursday, April 11, “The Battle of Algiers,” the classic film about the Algerian War of Independence, will be screened from 9 to 11:30 p.m., also in Knowles Hall. On Friday, April 12, the film series will conclude with “Rachida,” which examines the impact of the Algerian Civil War (1991-1999) and terrorism in one neighborhood. The film will screen from 7 to 10 p.m. in Kellas Hall Room 106.


There will be a panel discussion, “A Sustainable Future: Promises and Pitfalls of Individual Action,” on Thursday, April 11 from 9:30 to 11 a.m. in Kellas 106. Speakers will include Rich Douglass, Dr. Robert Ewy and Bob Washo, with Dr. Heather Sullivan-Catlin moderating.

Dominic Frongillo, deputy supervisor for the Town of Caroline, N.Y., is one of the youngest elected officials in the state. He is also a five-time delegate to the United Nations, on climate change. Frongillo will present “Be the Change You Seek: Running for Office,” on Friday, April 12 from 1 to 2 p.m. in Kellas 105.

Human rights:

Dr. John Youngblood and Dr. Jennifer Mitchell, both associate professors in the Department of English and Communication, will speak about “Making our Futures Together: Racism and Antiracism Activism,” on Thursday, April 11 from 1 to 3 p.m. in Kellas 104. This discussion will examine topics such as interpersonal interactions, microaggressions, stereotype threat, racial profiling, economic inequality, and how to be a white ally.

SUNY Potsdam Spanish students will lead a session on “Translation as a Human Rights Tool: Stories from the Other 9/11” on Thursday, April 11 from 3 to 4 p.m. in Kellas 105. They will offer public readings of translations of stories based on events that took place in Chile in 1973, to shed light on the importance of understanding traumatic events across cultures and languages.

For more information about the 2013 Academic Festival, visit www.potsdam.edu/academicfestival.

Founded in 1816, and located on the outskirts of the beautiful Adirondack Park, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America’s first 50 colleges. SUNY Potsdam currently enrolls approximately 4,350 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its handcrafted education, challenging liberal arts and sciences core, excellence in teacher training and leadership in the performing and visual arts.