Black Life Matters Conference at UA & Dunbar School, Jan. 15 to 17



February is  Black History Month.

Starting Thursday through Saturday: Black Life Matters conference at University of Arizona (Memorial Student Union South Ballroom for first two days, 1303 E. University Blvd.), then at Dunbar School, 325 W. 2nd Street on Saturday Jan. 17.

Register online here (for free):

Full  all day program schedule here:


Scholars, writers, artists, activists, policymakers, and community members will come together in Tucson, Arizona, in January 2015 to discuss WHY Black life matters and WHAT can be done about sustained racialized state violence. We will livestream sessions for folks who cannot travel to Tucson.

The conference will include lectures, hands-on working sessions, arts and performances, and social justice actions, as well as significant time for conversation. The end of the conference will lead into planned MLK activities in Tucson, and hopefully visitors will stay for these, as well.

Planned outcomes of the conference include a series of thematic policy papers as well as local, regional, and national action items and a ‘to do’ list of next steps. We envision this conference as part of an ongoing conversation about Black lives, and not as a beginning, an end, or the ‘last word.’ It is our hope and intention that participants bring with them the vital work they are already doing, and carry away tools and resources to continue to do that work in their own communities.

My previous post announcing this conference back in December:

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Carolyn Classen
Carolyn Sugiyama Classen, a life long Democrat, was born & raised in the State of Hawaii, was a Legislative Aide for U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye on Capitol Hill, and practiced law for a while. In Tucson she worked as a tribal staff attorney for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and later was the Interim Executive Director of the now defunct Domestic Violence Commission. In 2008 she became a “My Tucson” guest columnist for the Tucson Citizen newspaper, then continued blogging for for over four and a half years. Her blogsite was entitled “Carolyn’s Community” about community events and some political news, until Gannett Publishing shut down the site on January 31, 2014. She started with Blog for Arizona on Feb. 11, 2014. Part time she has been sitting as a Hearing Officer in Pima County Consolidated Justice Courts Small Claims Division since April, 2005. She is married to University of Arizona Distinguished Professor Albrecht Classen, a native of Germany. They have one son, who lives in Seattle, WA with his wife and daughter. She is also the Editor of the Southern Arizona Japanese Cultural Coalition website, (since Jan. 2013).


  1. Day 2 of BLM conference with keynote speaker Lourdes Hunter who is a vocal, Black Trans woman. advocating equal rights, visibility and justice for her identified group. Trans people being killed by people they know, not law enforcemenet, w/ Ohio being the “epicenter” with 4 killed last year. “Cys-gender” new term learned today, about choosing gender you were born with (physical anatomy). Criminalizing Black Lives panel presented stats about black people being marginalized, with institutional racism and violence against their people. “Power to the people” slogan, to fight against racism, sexism, police brutality, violence, plus voting and getting black politicians elected. Violence Against Black Women panel talked about the sexism, sexual assaults, rapes against black women, higher than stats of other women, based on fear, control, power. Urging women & men not to forget the women who came before/ancestors who struggled to attain truth, justice, healing, reconciliation. LD 3 House Rep. Sally Gonzales present today at this conference.

  2. Day 1 continued: Afternoon keynote speaker Imani Perry spoke of Black life experiences, non-black minority voices, that Blacks were considered the “least desirable” of all races, anti-blackness being a reality. Dean JP Jones III of SBS College spoke of the social behavioral context of “race” after UA President Ann Weaver Hart welcomed the attendees and spoke of discrimination and the increase in minority rep. with UA Freshmen. Then 2 artists Aisha Sloan of LA read her essay “A Clear Presence’ about being half black in a white school/neighborhood, and Mecca Jamilah Sullivan from Amherst, MA read from her writing about a lesbian “Wolf Pack”. More tomorrow, starting at 8 a.m.

  3. Hundreds of attendees (700 preregistered) for Day 1 of this conference at UA this morning, and ongoing till Saturday. Welcome by UA officials & conf. chairs, then 2 panels with audience questions/comments on “Disparities/Despair-ities” and Global “Blackness”. Very disheartening to hear stats on all the disparities faced in the black communities — prison time, crime stats, drug use, single family households, health care (lack thereof), poverty, housing and even negative depictions in films/movies. Also, global justice issues in Africa (i.e. Sudan), Haiti, were addressed. More today, all day tomorrow, workshops to discuss more & seek solutions on Saturday at Dunbar School. Two powerful dance performances were previewed, one on “stand your ground”/”chains off”. Black Rage was also discussed, as was difficulty being Trans black women.

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