Multi-Disciplinary and Cultural Conference host empowering speakers

Graphic by Emily Burgess

by Roxanna Boren, Contributor

Activists for the Latinx community speak about struggle and advocate for equality on campus, inspiring students to push for change.The Latino Student Social Work Association held a Multi-Disciplinary and Cultural Conference at San Diego State on March 5, where speakers from activist organizations coincided.

 Guest speakers included Dulce Garcia from Border Angels, Dr. Shirley Weber from the California State Assembly, the Voices of Our City Choir, Sahra Abdi from the United Woman of East Africa support team and Dolores Huerta an American labor leader and civil rights activist.

The President of LSSWA and social work junior Melanie Ramirez said, “It is important that we as a community hear different perspectives on social problems so that we can understand and help other vulnerable communities. Our conference will give attendees an alternate perspective on current issues.”

This is exactly what the conference did.

Border Angels is an organization that focuses on migrant rights and immigration reform while advocating for equality. Dulce Garcia, a member, spoke about the Water Drop Program which encourages volunteers to make the treacherous hike migrants take when attempting to cross the desert to reach the U.S. from Mexico. Along the way, volunteers drop off supplies such as water and clothing to assist migrants in their journey. 

Garcia spoke to the tribulations she’s experienced throughout the years while seeing human beings, including her own brother, with no criminal records stripped of their humanity in detention centers due to their lack of papers. She left the audience saying, “hateful language leads to hateful acts, let’s change the narrative.”

Another speaker, Dr. Shirley Weber, spoke of her own story coming from a family of sharecroppers and going on to earn her degree from UCLA. She went on to establish the Department of Africana Studies at SDSU where she taught for 40 years. 

Weber spoke about the importance of having self identity and not being generalized as a minority group, but to embrace and prosper in your culture’s individual community and independence. 

“People always tell me that I am courageous, but that is not true,” Weber said. “I am the beneficiary of courage. Regardless, it is important to have courage in your conviction.” 

The keynote speaker of the night,Dolores Huerta, closed out the conference. She is known as a civil rights activist who worked with Cesar Chavez to cofound the National Farmworkers Association. She spoke about the vital importance of voting and how a democracy is only effective if we are civically engaged. 

Today, at nearly 90 years old, Huerta is still going door-to-door encouraging people to vote and to make their voices heard. The speaker’s impact resonated with many individuals in attendance. Psychology freshman Citlaly Ramirez, a member of LSSWA, said the personal anecdotes shared at the event suck with her most.

“I found it specifically moving when Dulce Garcia was telling real stories about people suffering over the way our country treats refugees,” Ramirez said. “I think it was a really emotional moment knowing both kids and adults risk their lives for a better future.”

Overall, the conference left an emotional and eye awakening impact on the audience to not be complacent in their ignorance and go forward to make changes in what they believe in. 

If anyone is interested in LSSWA, contact llswa.sdsu@gmail.com or follow them on Instagram @sdsu_lsswa. For more information about Huerta’s voter mobilization efforts, visit DoloresHuerta.org.

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