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 …
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 …
“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 …
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 …
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.
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 …
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.
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 …
Yellow Springs, Ohio, is a small college community with a rich history of social justice. It was a stop on the Underground Railroad and, much later, home to Antioch College, where civil rights activist Coretta Scott King went to school.
Dana Patterson, who completed her doctorate in higher education administration at Washington State University last spring, was seeking a career that would lead her into social justice and human rights activism, when she applied to be first director of the new Coretta Scott King Center at Antioch. Looking at the job description, she realized, “It’s a perfect fit for me in light of what I … » More …