Fania Davis will give the keynote address during Eastern Mennonite University’s Academic and Creative Excellence Festival on April 18. She is the co-founder and director of Restorative Justice for Oakland (California) Youth and a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow with the Council of Independent Colleges. (Photo by Andrew Strack)

Fania Davis to keynote Academic and Creative Excellence Festival at EMU

Since losing two childhood friends in the 1963 Sunday School bombings in Birmingham, Alabama, Fania Davis has dedicated her life to social justice advocacy, becoming a civil rights attorney and a restorative justice scholar, professor and national thought leader.

Davis will give the keynote address during Eastern Mennonite University’s Academic and Creative Excellence Festival on Wed., April 18 at 7:30 p.m.

She will also speak in a chapel service on Fri., April 20 at 10:00 a.m. Both events are in Lehman Auditorium and are free and open to the public.

The co-founder and director of Restorative Justice for Oakland (California) Youth, Davis is a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow with the Council of Independent Colleges.

She has been recognized with the Ubuntu Service to Humanity, the Maloney, the World Trust’s Healing Justice, the Tikkun (Repair the World) and other awards. The Los Angeles Times has named her a “New Civil Rights Leader of the 21st Century.”

In recent years, she has worked to further truth and reconciliation processes for racial healing in the United States.

A long-time partner of EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, Davis will teach a course in truth-telling, racial healing and restorative justice in this year’s Summer Peacebuilding Institute. The course addresses “the emerging truth-telling, racial healing and reparations initiatives in the United States to address racial violence against African-Americans.”

Davis wrote in a Yes! article after high profile police killings of black men that “the Truth and Reconciliation process would set us on a collective search for shared truths,” and “would also include facing and beginning to heal the massive historical harms that threaten us all as a nation but take the lives of black and brown children especially.”

It’s an “urgent” need, she wrote, not just for one city like victim Michael Brown’s Ferguson, Missouri, but for the entire United States. “Continued failure to deal with our country’s race-based historical traumas dooms us to perpetually re-enact them.”

To begin that process, and with the help of her RJOY colleague and CJP alum Jodie Geddes and current CJP students Renata Loberg and Brenna Case, Davis is documenting and mapping community-level groups across the country who are doing truth and reconciliation work.

The Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellows program connects institutions of higher education with prominent artists, diplomats, journalists, business leaders, and other non-academic professionals for week-long placements to “create better understanding and new connections” and “substantive dialogue” with students and faculty.

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