Second Annual Social Justice and Peace Conference to be held May 7-8
Posted: 04/22/2010
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A death-row survivor, documentary filmmakers, artists and poets will highlight the Second Annual Social Justice and Peace Conference "Images/Voices from the Border" May 7-8 at The University of Texas-Pan American.

The conference, hosted by the UTPA Department of Criminal Justice and open to the public, will start at 9 a.m. on both days.

"The goals of this event are to promote human rights, social justice and peace," said Dr. Rosalva Resendiz, associate professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and conference coordinator. "What we want to do is engage the students, community and faculty in a dialogue about social problems which affect our lives here on the border."

Resendiz said the array of topics the conference is focusing on will provide an avenue for activists, poets, musicians and artists to share their concerns and information about resources available to the community.

Death row survivor Juan Roberto Melendez-Colon, who was released from Florida's death row after 17 years, eight months and one day in 2002, will share his unique story at the conference on how he became the 99th death row inmate in the country to be exonerated and released because of innocence. "Witness to Injustice" featuring Melendez-Colon is co-sponsored by the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. Also speaking at the forum will be Delia Perez Meyer, sister of death-row inmate Louis Castro Perez and advocate for others on death row.

Producer and president of Alma Libre Films Laura Perez, a Mission, Texas native, who co-produced "Harvest of Redemption," will screen the 95-minute movie and follow with a discussion on the making of the film. The film inspired by a true story, which occurred in the Rio Grande Valley in the 1920s - is about a young Latino trying to overcome the murder of his father, which he witnessed.

In addition, Perez will be discussing her upcoming project "American Orange: Effects of the Mission Contamination," which documents the lives of Mission, Texas residents affected by the storage of chemicals in the Hayes-Sammons Chemical Co. warehouse, which has since been demolished.

Other documentaries expected to be featured include "Cruzando Fronteras," "Angel Walking," "Mardi Gras," and "Intimidades."

The Women's Studies minor, VOX: Voices for Planned Parenthood and the Department of Criminal Justice are co-sponsoring the "Vagina Monologues," a play that will be showcased during the conference. Scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday, May 7 in the Student Union Theater, the production is based on Eve Ensler's interviews with more than 200 women. This play celebrates women's sexuality and strength and gives voices to experiences and feelings not exposed in public.

Presentations and workshops featuring topics such as border violence, political corruption, prison gangs, migrant justice, Mexican-American Studies, student activism, and gender equity are some of the topics that will be presented.

Poetry sessions, poster research presentations, photo and art shows, and musical performances are also scheduled for the conference.

For more information, dates and times, call 956/381-3566 or visit