Shepard Symposium Events Announced at UW

March 13, 2008
Barbara Martinez Jitner
Writer and director Barbara Martinez Jitner will give a free public talk Thursday, March 27, at 7 p.m., in the College of Arts and Sciences auditorium.

The 12th annual Shepard Symposium on Social Justice, "Life at the Margins: Gender, Race and Class in the Global Era," will be held March 25-28, at the University of Wyoming.

The symposium, an annual event at UW since 1997, seeks to engage participants in discussion and analyses of strategies and actions that can eliminate social inequality.

The Shepard Symposium has grown from a local grassroots event to a nationally-recognized conference, says one of the event's organizers. Originally named "The Symposium for the Eradication of Social Inequality," the event honors the work of the Shepard family and the memory of their son, Matthew Shepard, a UW student who was murdered in 1998. The symposium steering committee unanimously agreed to change the name to the Shepard Symposium for Social Justice to honor his memory.

Two College of Education faculty members, Omawale Akintunde and Margaret Cooney, started the symposium to promote dialogue on issues related to social justice, particularly within the context of public education. The symposium has expanded its focus so that participants from throughout the community, state, and region have presented on social justice issues within a variety of arenas.

This year's symposium keynote speaker is Barbara Martinez Jitner, a nationally-known writer and director who will give a free public talk Thursday, March 27, at 7 p.m., in the College of Arts and Sciences auditorium. She is an executive producer of "American Family," a series that made history as the first Latino family drama on broadcast television when it debuted on PBS in January 2002. As president of El Norte Productions, Jitner is now developing several feature films for Gregory Nava, including Nava's "Bordertown," "Zapata" for Disney, and "Tattooed Soldier" for HBO.

Martinez Jitner began her career as an award-winning director of commercials and documentaries, and produced the Showtime millennium documentary, "An American Tapestry." She is the inspiration behind the coming Jennifer Lopez film, "Bordertown," based on her research of the Mexican town of Juarez, where more than 400 women have been murdered.

A variety of concurrent sessions will be held throughout the symposium. For a list of complete event and registration information, visit the symposium's Web site at

Among other highlights of the four-day event are:

-- Wednesday, March 26, 7-10 p.m., in the Wyoming Union Ballroom -- A hip hop event featuring Adrian Molina, Flobots and student performances. Visit for more information.

-- Friday, March 28, 5:30 p.m., in the Wyoming Union ballroom -- Cesar Chavez Dinner.

-- Saturday, March 29, noon and 7 p.m. and Sunday, March 30, 10 a.m., in the UW Fieldhouse -- UW Keeper of the Fire Spring Powwow.

For more information, contact Kate Welsh, Shepard Symposium chairman, at (307) 766-2013 or e-mail

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