Speakers

Maria Hinojosa

Maria Hinojosa

Child Brides: Stolen Lives

Maria Hinojosa is a award-winning and veteran journalist whose attention to urban affairs, political events, and international women’s and children’s rights issues have earned her impressive honors within journalism and recognition by national and international organizations. A pioneer in the world of broadcast media, she was the first Latina correspondent for both National Public Radio (NPR) and for Cable Network News (CNN). Currently the senior correspondent for the PBS weekly news program NOW, she anchors and is managing editor of Latino USA, a weekly national news and culture program on NPR, and she also anchors the Boston WGBH show One on One with Maria Hinojosa. Her most recent documentary, Child Brides: Stolen Lives, produced for NOW on PBS sheds light on the traditions and ongoing practice of child marriage. The film, which focuses on Guatemala, India, and Niger exposes the sobering cultural realities and global implications of child marriage.

Born in Mexico City, Mexico, Ms. Hinojosa lived in Brookline, Massachusetts before her family settled in Chicago, Illinois. She graduated magna cum laude from Barnard College where she majored in Latin American Studies, Women’s Studies, and Political Economics. Since the mid-1980s, she has been immersed in radio and television journalism. She has been a field producer and producer, researcher, host, correspondent, and general assignment correspondent and during the course of her career has worked with CNN, CBS, NPR, PBS, WNYC Radio. At Barnard, where Hinojosa anchored a show that featured political Latin music, she was convinced that her role on the air helped to give voice to many. In a recent interview with the Boston Globe, she mused that as an undergraduate broadcaster, she thought to herself, "Maybe what I am doing is really important. Maybe what I am doing is giving these people who are voiceless a voice." During the course of her career, Ms. Hinojosa has borne witness to the plight, work, and efforts of those who are striving to protect the rights of others and promote justice, equality, and security for many, often the marginalized and defenseless of society.

A published writer, Ms. Hinojosa is the author of Crews: Gang Members Talk with Maria Hinojosa, a 1995 work linked to her NPR reports on gangs that earned her Top Story of the Year Award from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. In 1999, she published an acclaimed memoir, Raising Raul: An Adventure Raising Myself and My Son, in which she reflected on her only life as a Mexican-American woman, professional, wife and mother raising a child in New York City and modern America.

The impressive honors and tributes to Maria Hinojosa confirm the power, substance, and scope of her work. Child Brides: Stolen Lives, her most recent documentary has been awarded the distinguished Edward R. Murrow Award for Best TV Documentary from the Overseas Press Club. The National Council of La Raza bestowed upon her the Ruben Salazar Award, a prize that recognizes a journalist's outstanding body of work. She earned an Emmy citation for her coverage of September 11 and has won a Robert F. Kennedy Award in Radio for her reporting on the disadvantaged. Working Mother magazine named her one of the "25 Most Influential Working Mothers in America" by Working and she in the last ten years, has been cited three times by Hispanic Business Magazine as one of the 100 most influential Latinos in the United States. Hinojosa received a lifetime achievement award from the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors.

Margaret Burnham

Margaret Burnham

Unsettled Histories: Civil Rights Lessons from Jena and Beyond

Margaret Burnham is a former judge, pioneering lawyer, and legal scholar whose expertise is in the areas of civil rights, human rights, and employment. In 1997 she became the first African American woman to serve in the judiciary of Massachusetts when Governor Michael Dukakis appointed her Associate Justice of the Boston Municipal Court.

Following her undergraduate years at Tougaloo College and her law studies at the University of Pennsylvania, she began working at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. During her tenure there, Ms. Burnham focused on school desegregation cases. In the 1970s, she served as legal counsel for a number of high profile civil rights and political activists, including Angela Davis and Ben Chavis. In 1978, she became an associate justice of the Boston Municipal Court. In 1989, she became a founding partner of Burnham, Hines, and Dilday, Boston’s first law firm headed by African American women. She has held fellowships at the Bunting Institute at Radcliffe College and at the DuBois Institute at Harvard University.

Ms. Burnham has been a principal contributor to international efforts to secure human rights. In 1992, at the invitation of Nelson Mandela, former South African president and former longtime political prisoner, Ms. Burnham served on an international commission charged with investigating violations committed by the African National Congress. That commission was a precursor of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission created in South Africa following the 1994 election. She has written on international court matters in the context of South Africa, current slavery scholarship and its impact on law and legal historiography. She was co-author of the plaintiffs’ brief in Doe v. Bush, a suit that challenged presidential authority to wage war against Iraq in the absence of congressional authorization.

Currently a professor of law at Northeastern University in Boston, she also has held teaching appointments at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston College Law School and Brandeis University. At Northeastern, Ms. Burnham teaches constitutional law, comparative constitutional law, and federal courts and the federal system.

Terry Davis

Terry Davis

Terry Davis is a longtime union activist, organizer, and representative who went to Jena, Louisiana in 2007 to conduct investigative work on behalf of Mychal Bell, a student who was part of the group known as the Jena 6.  Davis spent six weeks in Louisiana performing pro bono criminal investigative work, interviewed countless witnesses to the events in Jena, and was there when thousands converged in September 2007 to highlight the need for justice, solidarity, and unity in and beyond Jena.

A graduate of Smith College, Davis began a teaching career but soon pursued work as a union activist and coupled that with work on a factory assembly line for six years.  In 2000, she retired from the United Electrical Workers Union for whom she had served as an International Representative.  During her career as a full-time union activist, Davis led successful campaigns in Wisconsin, Illinois, California, and Virginia. Ms. Davis sustains her connections to the labor movement and serves today as an activist for U. S. Labor Against the War, and as a Steering Committee member of Chicago Jobs with Justice.

Ms. Davis currently works as a Mitigation Specialist on death penalty cases, conducting investigative work for death penalty defense teams, in the Chicago area.

Rachel Rosenthal

Rachel Rosenthal

"What's luck got to do with it?": The Extraordinary in Art and Life

Rachel Rosenthal, the acclaimed artistic director of The Rachel Rosenthal Company, innovative and revolutionary performer, and bold animal rights activist, is the 2007-2008 Weissman Center Leading Women in the Arts guest artist in residence at Mount Holyoke College. Rosenthal believes in the power of interdisciplinary, change, and the bold unpredictability of forms, bodies, sights, and sounds. She has been hailed by critics as a "monument and a marvel" for her pioneering performance techniques.

The daughter of Russian parents who left Europe for Brazil and then the United States during World War II, Rosenthal graduated from the High School of Music and Art in New York City. She went on to study art, dance, and theatre in New York and Paris with teachers such as Jean-Louis Barrault, Merce Cunningham, Hans Hoffmann, and Erwin Piscator. Since establishing herself in California in the 1950s, she has created companies and shaped the arts culture in significant ways. She founded the Instant Theatre, an experimental drama company that she both directed and with which she also performed and also co-founded Womanspace, the Los Angeles-based organization that created and maintained feminist art galleries. She has been a visiting artist at such institutions as the Art Institute of Chicago, New York University, California Institute of the Arts, and the Institute for Studies in the Arts in Tempe, Arizona.

Rosenthal has received prestigious honors and awards during her substantial career, including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the J. Paul Getty Foundation. She is a five-time winner of USIA travel grants, and has received grants from Art Matters, NEA Interarts, The Tides Foundation, ESRR Vision Trust, and the Foundation. She was awarded an Obie for Rachel’s Brain and also has received awards from the College Art Association and from the Women’s Caucus for the Arts which recognized her for outstanding achievement in the arts. Rosenthal has performed throughout the globe at prestigious venues such as Lincoln Center in New York City and in well-known festivals including the Festival Internacional de Teatro in Granada, Spain, Jacob’s Pillow Splash Festival in Massachusetts, and The Performance Space in Sydney Australia.

According to Rachel Rosenthal, “who are you and what you make cannot be separated.” In this year’s Leading Women in the Arts lecture, she will deliberate further on her perspectives on the inextricable links between the personal and the political, and reflect further on the extra-ordinary nature of art and life.

Naomi Tutu

Naomi Tutu

Truth and Reconciliation: Healing the Wounds of Racism

Naomi Tutu is an eloquent and vigilant international activist and dedicated to securing human rights, ensuring social justice, and advocating for peace. She came of age in apartheid South Africa and has become a global citizen who works on behalf of refugees, women, and those affected by violence. She is a celebrated public speaker and teacher whose career underscores the continued need for social justice and education worldwide, and also extends the work of the Archbishop Desmond Tutu, her father and winner of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize. She has been hailed for her courageous advocacy and inspiring determination, especially for her efforts to support South African refugees as they prepared to negotiate the transition into a post-apartheid and free South Africa.

An educator who specializes in topics of development, gender, and education, Tutu has been on the faculty of the University of Hartford, University of Connecticut, and Brevard College. A graduate of Berea College where she majored in Economics and French, Ms. Tutu pursued graduate studies in international development, economics, and diplomatic affairs at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Economi Development at the University of Kentucky. Her recent administrative posts have included positions as program coordinator of the African Gender Institute at the University of Cape Town, program coordinator of the Race Relations Institute at Fisk University, and as Associate Director of the Office of International Relations and Programs at Tennessee State University. She has received substantial recognition for her leadership and achievements, including honorary degrees from the Universal Orthodox College of Ogun State in Nigeria and Bentley College in Massachusetts. She also has been honored by the Boston City Council, California State Legislature, Outstanding Youth Women of America, and Who's Who of Africans in America.

Ms. Tutu has sustained her commitment to education and global outreach through her work as a consultant, motivational speaker, and retreat leader. In her work as a consultant, she has worked with the United States Agency for International Development and South African-based groups such as the Entabeni Consulting Group for whom she created and implemented diversity management programs, including programs for corporate and government clients at the Robben Island Museum, where the South African leader Nelson Mandela was held for twenty-seven years. Ms. Tutu has worked with a range of non-governmental organizations and with Sister Sojourner, a group that she cofounded with Rose Bator in 2002, that brings South African and American women together for leadership retreats in Cape Town, South Africa.

Ms. Tutu, who invites us to "be willing to speak and hear the truth because then we will have our just society,” will deliver the opening lecture in the spring 2008 Bearing Witness series. Her lecture, entitled "Truth and Reconciliation: Healing the Wounds of Racism," will blend her own life story into her remarks about the realities of divisive society and the promise of communities that work to protect and sustain the dignity of all people.

Rose Bator

Rose Bator

Community Workshop Building Bridges: Honest Conversation about Race with Naomi Tutu and Rose Bator

Rose Bator is the founder and president emeritus of Common Ground: The Cindy Nord Center for Renewal in Oberlin, Ohio that is dedicated to renewal, environmental consciousness, restorative justice, and peace. As an educator, counselor, and advocate for women's leadership and cross-cultural dialogues, she is sought after as a speaker and consultant by national and international groups that focus on peace and justice, and the rights of women and children.

A member of the Humility of Mary Order for more than three decades, Ms. Bator earned her B.A. from Cleveland State University and earned an M.A. degree in Pastoral Ministry and Theology from Boston College. She also has taught and held pastoral counseling positions in Ohio high schools and community colleges. The collaborations between Rose Bator and Naomi Tutu include international women's retreats through Sister Sojourner, an organization that they founded together in 2002, truth and reconciliation workshops, and a co-authored book on conversations about race and racism. In 2004, Bator began serving as president of Riverways International, a consulting firm that focuses on organizational development, executive coaching, and transition programs. In 2004, she also established North Star Group, a collective of businesses and non-profit organizations that share a commitment to wellness and empowering work practices.

Common Ground, endowed by long-time Oberlin psychologist and community philanthropist Cindy Nord, has provided a range of holistic, educational, and empowering learning and immersion experiences for young people and adults since 1994. Under Ms. Bator's leadership, this eco-spirituality retreat center has served more than 50,000 individuals and organizations since its founding. The center focuses on ecology and spirituality and highlights the power and relevance of these in their community-based programming, leadership development seminars, and spirituality programming.

Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower

"Grassroots Gumption": Populism and Political Action

Jim Hightower is known for his witty repartee and unceasing scrutiny of contemporary political and social issues. A Texas native whom some regard as a "modern-day political Johnny Appleseed," Hightower is an bestselling writer and editor, former politician, and lively radio talk host dedicated to making populist critiques of contemporary political issues and politicians.

Known during the 1990s as the most popular populist in America, Hightower's professional life has blended politics, public service, and journalism to great effect. After graduating from the University of North Texas, he became a legislative aide to Texas senator Ralph Yarborough and while in Washington, D.C., cofounded and led the the Agribusiness Accountability Project from 1970 until 1975, an organization that focused on corporate impacts on agricultural concerns. Hightower served as national coordinator for the presidential campaign of Senator Fred Harris of Oklahoma efforts to secure the 1976 Democratic nomination that ultimately went to Jimmy Carter.

In 1983, Hightower was elected to serve as commissioner of the Texas Department of Agriculture and during his term addressed issues that included protections for farmworkers, regulations of pesticides, and organic crops.

Today, Hightower launches daily radio commentaries that are broadcast on public radio, commercial stations, as well as on the web, Armed Forces Radio, and on Radio for Peace international. He also publishes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter that has been hailed by the Alternative Press Association and the Independent Press Association. He is a prolific author and his spirited political critiques include works with eye-catching titles such as There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos, and If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote, They Would Have Given Us Candidates. His latest book, which he will sign following his lecture, is Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go with the Flow. Hightower's spring lecture, part of the Weissman Center's spring 2008 series Bearing Witness, is entitled "Grassroots Gumption": Courageous Populism and Contemporary Political Action."

Rory Kennedy

Rory Kennedy

The Camera Doesn't Lie: Social Change via Documentary Filmmaking

Rory Kennedy is a filmmaker whose passion for documentary journalism honors the mighty legacy of her father, Robert F. Kennedy, and the established Kennedy family commitment to social justice and advocacy.

A graduate of Brown University, Kennedy has collaborated with fellow alumnae on promising film enterprises. She and Vanessa Vadim formed the Washington, D. C. – based film production company MayDay Media, a non-profit production and distribution company that believes in video as a critical tool for change and social justice. With fellow alumna Liz Garbus, Kennedy established Moxie Firecracker Films in 1998. Kennedy and Garbus have produced and directed films that focus on urgent contemporary issues and their works have been broadcast on major cable channels such as MTV, TLS, and the Discovery Channel. The array of probing documentaries that Kennedy has directed focus on domestic and global issues and include the Emmy and Independent Spirit Award-nominated American Hollow (1999), Epidemic Africa (1999), America Undercover: A Boy’s Life (1999), The Changing Face of Beauty (2000), the Emmy-Award nominated five-part series Pandemic: Facing AIDS (2003), Indian Point: Imagining the Unimaginable (2004) and Ghosts of Abu Ghraib (2007). She also produced The Execution of Wanda Jean (2002) and in 2006, Street Fight, a film for which she was executive producer, was nominated for an Academy Award for documentary feature.

Jonathan Kozol

Jonathan Kozol

Letters to a Young Teacher

Jonathan Kozol describes himself as one who bears witness to the plight of children. Born in 1936, the Newton, Massachusetts native attended Harvard before beginning his teaching career in a freedom school in Boston’s Roxbury community. His first book, Death at an Early Age: The Destruction of the Hearts and Minds of Negro Children in the Boston Public Schools (1967) was based on his experiences in the classroom and won the National Book Award. Kozol’s subsequent publications include Illiterate American (1980), Rachel and Her Children: Homeless Families in America (1988),  Savage Inequalities (1991), Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation (1995), and Shame of the Nation (2005). His most recent work, Letters to a Young Teacher (2007) continues his lifelong efforts to think aloud about the high stakes of public education and the potential of students and their teachers.

Kozol has been hailed by leading public figures and prestigious organizations for his advocacy on behalf of children. The human rights activist Elie Wiesel, who characterizes Kozol’s work as a “noble” struggle, insists that “what [Kozol] says must be heard” and that the educator’s “outcry must shake our nation out of its guilty indifference.”

Mehrangiz Kar

Mehrangiz Kar

"With Determined Spirits": Activism & Contemporary Women's Rights in Iran

Mehrangiz Kar is an attorney, writer, and activist who has dedicated her professional life to promoting democracy, the rule of law, and human rights within the framework of Islamic law in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Currently in residence at Wellesley College as a Newhouse Fellow, Kar has held prestigious academic posts in the United States since her arrival here in 2001. She has been a fellow at Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University’s Law School as part of its Human Rights program and at Harvard’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the JFK School of Government. In addition, she has been a visiting scholar at Columbia University, American University, the University of Virginia, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the National Endowment for Democracy. Her works include Crossing the Red Line: The Struggle for Human Rights in Iran (2007), Rebellion: A Feminine Account of the Islamic Republic of Iran (2006), Women’s Participation in Politics (2001), and The Quest for Identity: Iranian Women in History and Pre-History (1994).

Imprisoned in April 2000 for her participation in a Berlin conference on the future of Iran, Kar was subjected to two months of solitary confinement, denied access to her lawyer, and denied medicines to treat her newly diagnosed breast cancer. Charges against her included violating the observance of hejab, disseminating propaganda against the Islamic Republic of Iran, and acting against national security. Eventually free on bail after posting bail equivalent to $60,000 US, Kar applied for medical treatment abroad, was denied, and as her case went to trial, underwent a mastectomy and began chemotherapy. Although her four-year sentence was considered complete once she paid a substantial fine, there still are charges pending against her. Ms. Kar could be tried and imprisoned should she ever return to Iran. Her husband, journalist Siamak Pourzand has endured imprisonment and torture because of his wife’s activism. She and her two daughters have lodged eloquent calls for justice despite warnings from Iranian officials that the case against their father would be adversely affected if they made details public.

Ms. Kar has received international recognition for her work. Recently, she was awarded the Una Donna Fuori Dal Coro prize by the Associazione Genovese Terziario Donna confcommercio Edizione of Genova, Italy and the Ludovic Trarierux International Human Rights Prize for a lawyer working to promote women’s human rights. She has received awards, grants, and recognition from the U.S-based National Endowment for Democracy, Human Rights Watch, the Human Rights Institute of the Bar of Bordeaux, and the European Lawyers Union. In 2000, she was awarded the American-based Latifeh Yarshater Award of the Society for Iranian Studies for the best book on Iranian women.