Ingram chosen as keynote for ’DEIS Impact
For civil rights lawyer Germaine Ingram, life is equal parts scholarship, art and social justice; her tap dancing performances often focus on historical and social justice themes, and her lectures draw upon her years spent pursuing justice in court. On Feb. 3, Ingram will bring these themes together as she delivers the keynote address for ’DEIS Impact 2016.
This year marks the fifth annual ’DEIS Impact, an 11-day celebration of social justice. The festival, which includes events hosted by clubs, student organizations and community groups, is put on as a collaboration between the Student Union and the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life. Ingram will be performing “Freedom Underfoot” —about the final year of the Civil War in Atlanta — on Feb. 2 and will give her address, “The Law and the Stage: Platforms for Pursuing Social Justice,” on Feb. 3.
Marci McPhee, the director of campus programs at the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life, wrote in an email to the Justice that Ingram was a clear choice, as she “embodies what I feel is the spirit of ‘DEIS Impact: starting wherever you are, taking whatever you have, and using that to build social justice in all its dimensions.”
Additionally, McPhee noted that the invitation is decided jointly, due to the collaborative nature of ’DEIS Impact and given that it is a partnership between the Student Union and the Ethics Center. She added that the talk and performance are also part of the Student Support Services Program’s 25th anniversary celebration, and will be co-sponsored by Brandeis Posse and the University’s new interdisciplinary minor in Creativity, the Arts, and Social Transformation.
McPhee, who sits on the ’DEIS Impact Steering Committee, also touched on the different committees that come together to put ’DEIS Impact together. She noted that while the Working Group is made up of staff members from across the University and the Steering Committee is comprised of Student Union, ’DEIS Impact and Ethics Center leaders, the majority of the work is done by the Core Committee, a group of students “who work to make it all happen.” The Core Committee is led by Chair Lindsay Mitnik ’16 and Vice-Chair Emily Conrad ’17, neither of whom could be reached for comment as of press time.
According to McPhee, a new addition to ’DEIS Impact this year will be ’DEIS Impact College, “a series of open classes taught by faculty who are connecting their regular course material to social justice in that first week of February. Anyone can drop into these classes with favorite professors or on compelling topics, and see social justice alive in the heart of any university — the classroom.”
She added that she’s particularly looking forward to the featured and community partner events, especially one titled “Breaking the Story: How Eight Ordinary Citizens Took Down the FBI.” The event, taking place on Feb. 1, will include a screening of the 2014 film “1971,” which focuses on an incident in which eight individuals broke into an FBI office in an attempt to act as whistleblowers. The event will also include a question-and-answer session with the film’s director, Johanna Hamilton; Washington Post reporter Betty Medsger, who originally reported the story; and two of the burglars who were involved in the break-in.
Ultimately, though, McPhee emphasized that the most noteworthy aspect of this year’s ’DEIS Impact is the week’s most fundamental one: the celebration of social justice. “The Brandeis community is remarkable in its commitment to social justice. ’DEIS Impact is an exciting way to reflect and explore that,” she wrote.
Ingram, McPhee wrote, will embody this commitment to justice well as she takes the stage on Feb. 3: “For 30 years, Ingram was a civil rights lawyer, working to address injustice in police departments, education and construction trades. Then she reinvented herself, taking her talent for jazz tap dance and using the stage as another way to address injustice.”