Texas Social Justice Series: Fighting Economic Inequality
April 7, 2015 7:00pm - 9:00pm
In the second of a four-part series on the fight for social justice in Texas, explore issues related to economic inequality, a concern that disproportionately affects women and racial minorities. Panelists will discuss labor movements, legislative milestones, and efforts to reclaim political and economic rights. The conversation will trace both historical and modern efforts by Texans to gain equal work, pay, and opportunity.
Born in Lansing, Michigan, Jim Harrington received his law degree in 1973 from the University of Detroit, from where he also had earned a Master's degree in philosophy (1969). Upon graduation from law school, Harrington worked ten years as Director of the South Texas Project in the Rio Grande Valley, near McAllen. Much of his legal work there involved asserting the rights of farm laborers and poor people in Valley, especially its colonias, where he handled major cases involving police brutality, discrimination, and farm worker organizing. Harrington moved to Austin in 1983 to become Legal Director of the Texas Civil Liberties Union Foundation, Inc., a position he held for seven years. In 1990, Harrington founded the Texas Civil Rights Project, a statewide community-based, non-profit civil rights foundation that promotes social, racial, and economic justice and civil liberty, through the legal system and public education, for low income and poor persons. Under Harrington's guidance, the Texas Civil Rights Project has published a human rights reports on Texas, which have dealt with such issues as: pervasive racial and ethnic discrimination by Anderson County law enforcement; hate crimes in Texas; accessibility of courthouses and courtrooms in Texas for people with disabilities; peer sexual harassment in Texas schools; the employment practices of the Texas Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals. Harrington has served on human rights delegations to Honduras and Nicaragua (1984), Chile (1987), Israel and Palestinian territories (1988), Guatemala (1992 and 1998), and México (Chiapas 1999). Harrington also served as adjunct professor at University of Texas Law School for 27 years and continues to teach undergraduate writing courses at the university in civil liberties and history-making trials. He has received numerous awards and honors for his public service and assistance to the poor.
Merline Pitre is a professor of History and Dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Behavioral Sciences at Texas Southern University. She received her Ph.D. degree from Temple University and has published a number of articles in scholarly and professional journals. Her most noted works are Through Many Dangers, Toils and Snares: The Black Leadership of Texas, 1868 to 1898 (a book which was reissued in 1997 and used in a traveling exhibit on black legislators by the State Preservation Board in 1998), and In Struggle Against Jim Crow: Lulu B. White and the NAACP, 1900 to 1957 (Texas A&M University Press, 1999). Pitre has been the recipient of grants from the Fulbright Foundation, Texas Council for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities. She is also a former member of the Texas Council for the Humanities. Currently, she is a member of the Speakers Bureau for the Texas Council for the Humanities and serves on the nominating board of the Organization of American Historians.
Sonia Hernandez, a native of the Rio Grande Valley, received the Ph.D from the University of Houston in 2006 and began teaching at Texas A&M University in the Fall of 2014. Dr. Hernandez specializes in the intersections of gender and labor in the U.S.-Mexican Borderlands, Chicana/o history, and Modern Mexico. She has published in Spanish and English; her most recent book, Working Women into the Borderlands (Texas A&M University Press, 2014) received the Sara A. Whaley Book Prize from the National Women's Studies Association. She has a forthcoming chapter on women's labor activism in Northern Mexico's garment industry and is currently working on a book-length monograph on the transnational connections between women from south Texas, Tampico, Buenos Aires, and Barcelona rooted in anarcho-syndicalist ideas that at times complemented, clashed, competed with, or reinforced ideas about women's rights.
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This program is presented in partnership with the Social Justice Institute at the University of Texas at Austin and the Texas Civil Rights Project.
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The Texas Social Justice Series is sponsored in part by funding from Humanities Texas.