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Social justice

Charles Hudson
Spring 2018

Living the fighting spirit

Hunting and rodeoing, playing football and singing in the school choir. For Charles Hudson ’84, growing up in the ’60s and ’70s on the Ft. Berthold Indian Reservation in rural North Dakota also meant listening to stories from his Hidatsa mother and white rancher father. One of them was about a huge flood — and it wasn’t a myth.

Six years before Hudson was born, construction of the Garrison Dam submerged 550,000 acres of Hidatsa, Mandan, and Arikara (the Three Affiliated Tribes) land, resulting in Lake Sakakawea and forcing hundreds of families to flee, including Hudson’s. The tragedy only inspired his parents to triumph over it.

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Just Mercy
Spring 2016

Just Mercy

Dozens of witnesses, including a police officer, saw Walter McMillian at a church fish fry when a young woman was killed in nearby Monroeville, Alabama in 1986.

Police later arrested the self-employed African-American tree trimmer anyway. A nearly all-white jury convicted him and a judge sent him to death row. That’s where Bryan Stevenson, a Harvard-educated lawyer, met McMillian.

Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, battled a hostile criminal justice system to uncover improperly concealed evidence that led to McMillian’s exoneration in 1993.

But the frightening way McMillian was so quickly condemned raises broader questions about America’s criminal justice system, which incarcerates more … » More …

Hunger Immortal cover
Summer 2014

Hunger Immortal: The First Thirty Years of the West Seattle Food Bank, 1983–2013

Hunger Immortal cover

Ronald F. Marshall ’71
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013

What is today the West Seattle Food Bank started as a shoestring operation in an abandoned public school building. A pair of retired grocers from South Dakota had taken on responsibility for distributing government commodities like cheese and peanut butter to needy community members.

Thirty years later, the food bank owns its own building, serves an average of 750 families a week, and … » More …

No Room of Her Own
Winter 2012

No Room of Her Own: Women’s Stories of Homelessness, Life, Death, and Resistance

No Room of Her Own

Desiree Hellegers

Palgrave Macmillan


“As a form of social punishment, homelessness is far sterner in many respects than sentences handed out in court for most criminal offenses,” writes Desiree Hellegers, an associate professor of English and founding co-director of the Center for Social and Environmental Justice at WSU Vancouver, in her introduction. In presenting the individual stories of 15 women in Seattle collected over two decades, Hellegers offers a view … » More …

William Julius Wilson
Fall 2012

Race, Class, and William Julius Wilson’s World of Opportunity

In the middle of the last century, a Tennessee preacher-turned-sociologist, Tolbert H. Kennedy, found a relatively untapped pool of doctoral students among the nation’s black college graduates. Between 1944 and 1965, when Washington State University barely had a few dozen black students, he and fellow ex-preacher Wallis Beasley helped produce more black doctors of sociology than all but two schools, the University of Chicago and Ohio State.

Among them was a young man who went from the hardscrabble coal country of western Pennsylvania to graduate first in his class at Wilberforce, the oldest black college in the country, and get a master’s degree at Bowling … » More …

Spring 2012

Video: Creator of The Wire David Simon’s speech at WSU

David Simon, creator of gritty urban HBO drama The Wire, received the William Julius Wilson Award for the Advancement of Social Justice in September 2011. The award is named after eminent Harvard sociologist and Washington State University alumnus William Julius Wilson ’66 PhD.

When accepting the award at WSU, Simon spoke about building a just and equitable society, and the difficulties in achieving that goal.

You can read more about Simon’s visit to campus in The Wire: Urban drama, gritty reality, and Soc 496 ‘textbook’”

Time: 1 hr. 57 min.

Note: The video contains expletives.

Video courtesy KWSU

Indaba founders Bobby Enslow ’06, ’08 and Ben Doornink ’07
Spring 2012

Indaba Coffee

Spokane’s Indaba Coffee is not your typical café. With a Zulu name that loosely means a gathering of tribal leaders to discuss important matters, the spot just north of the Spokane River is a resource for locals. The business has bulletin boards on the ceiling and space shared with a small nonprofit bookstore. It serves residents of the affordable housing project just upstairs as well as the attorneys who work at the county courthouse down the street.

It’s the lively atmosphere founder and owner Bobby Enslow ’06, ’08 MBA is trying to brew up. “This is a place where successful people can gather and … » More …

Spring 2012

The Wire: Urban drama, gritty reality, and Soc 496 “textbook”

It’s not exactly a typical day in class, even an upper-level sociology class geared towards the grittiest of urban realities.

The room is filled with the sound of gunfire. A projection screen shows a quartet of inner-city drug thieves pinned down behind a parked car. Each reloads his and her weapon. Their leader, the scarred and unflappable Omar Little, gives them a look and says, “Y’all ready? Let’s bang out.”

The four stand up, fire back in unison, and execute a retreat, with one killed by friendly fire.

Professor Gregory Hooks stops the tape. The room goes quiet.

“And why’d we watch that?” he asks.

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Spring 2007

Phyllis Campbell: Being about forever

Someone recently told Phyllis Campbell ’73 that she had the perfect resume to run for governor.

In her office high above 5th Avenue in Seattle, Campbell tells me this with a mixture of amusement and certitude. Running for political office is the last thing she’s interested in.

“You can print that,” she says. “I’ll never run for political office.

“I value people who do,” she adds, “but that’s not my calling.”

Politics, after all, is so short-term.

Campbell shows me, with obvious pleasure, the medal that represents the Regents’ Distinguished Alumnus Award with which she was recently honored. Campbell’s relationship to Washington State University, which … » More …