18th Annual Shepard Symposium at UW Focuses on Taking Courageous Action
“Everyday Oppressions: Taking Courageous Action” is the theme for the 18th annual Shepard Symposium on Social Justice (SSSJ) April 2-5 at the University of Wyoming.
Among highlights of the symposium are the film “Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine,” with a panel discussion hosted by the director; a Tekcno Pow Wow with artist Bently Spang; and the play “No Roosters in the Desert.”
Registration is free and open to the public. Symposium events also can be viewed through video streaming online at www.shepardsymposium.org.
Angela Jaime, chair of the SSSJ planning committee, says this year’s symposium focuses on raising awareness about bullying in the workplace, schools and social settings.
“Our program includes many artistic mediums in conveying our message, ‘Everyday Oppressions: Taking Courageous Action,’” she says. “Sharing the stories of micro- and macro-aggressions, as well as sharing the actions we take to resist such oppressions.”
The event began as “The Symposium for the Eradication of Social Inequality.” The symposium honors the work of the Shepard family and the memory of their son, Matthew Shepard, a UW student and social activist who was murdered in Laramie in 1998. The symposium’s name was changed in 2002.
Spang will present “Tekcno Pow Wow” from 7-9 p.m. Wednesday, April 2, in the Wyoming Union Ballroom. The performance is a mixed-media installation combining techno and hip-hop music, video projection, and Native American and other dance forms. Spang, a Northern Cheyenne tribal member, is a multidisciplinary artist-in-residence with the UW American Indian Studies Program this semester.
The Laramie debut of the film “Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine” is from 4:30-8 p.m. Thursday, April 3, in the Wyoming Union Ballroom. The film, directed by Michelle Josue, is a tribute to Shepard’s life.
Following the film, Josue will moderate a panel discussion featuring former Laramie Chief of Police Dave O’Malley; former Albany County Sheriff's Deputy Reggie Fluty; and Father Roger Schmit, who were in Laramie when Shepard was murdered. Jason Marsden, Shepard Foundation executive director, also will be on the panel.
“No Roosters in the Desert,” a play by Kara Hartzler, is scheduled from 7-9:30 p.m. Friday, April 4, and Saturday, April 5, from 6:30-9 p.m. in the UW College of Education auditorium. The play follows four women as they attempt to cross the border from Mexico to the United States, facing the unforgiving desert and cultural and social issues. Guest director Luis Guerrero draws on his own experience as a Mexican immigrant to imbue the play with his personal insight.
Educators for Social Justice Day (formerly “Teacher Tea”) is Saturday, April 5, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. in the Wyoming Union Ballroom. Films include “Straightlaced,” “Let’s Get Real” and “It’s Still Elementary.”
The annual Saturday party, “Old School Glam Edition,” concludes the symposium, from 9 p.m.-1 a.m. Saturday, April 5, in the Laramie Civic Center north gym. The event is a fundraiser for the local Backpack Food Program.
The party is open to participants 18 and older, and includes a live DJ, cash bar and raffle drawing. The entry fee is a $5 donation. Vintage-inspired attire is encouraged.
Artist Bently Spang will present “Tekcno Pow Wow” from 7-9 p.m. Wednesday, April 2, in the Wyoming Union Ballroom. The event is a mixed-media installation combining techno and hip-hop music, video projection, and Native American and other dance forms.