Friday Forum + Conversation Café


Join Diversity & Social Justice Education and the University YMCA for Friday Forum + Conversation Cafe!

We will hear from community leaders tackling our most pressing public concerns through an unwavering pursuit of social justice. 

  • When: Most Fridays
  • Time: 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
  • Location: University YMCA, 1001 S. Wright St., Champaign, IL.

Lunch provided at no cost to guests from the Y Thai Eatery.

Fall 2023 Friday Forum x Conversation Cafe graphic with full lineup.

Series sponsored by Center for Advanced Study, Center for Global Studies and U.S. Department of Education Title VI Grant, College of ACES, College of Education, Counseling Center, Department of African American Studies, Department of Psychology, Department of Urban & Regional Planning, Education Justice Project, First Mennonite Church of Champaign-Urbana, Humanities Research Institute, Illini Hillel, Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment, League of Women Voters of Champaign County, Office of the Provost, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, School of Social Work, Sinai Temple, Social Action Council of the Unitarian-Universalist Church of Urbana-Champaign, Student Cultural Programming Fee, Urbana Champaign Friends Meeting, Urbana-Champaign Reproductive Justice, and Women & Gender in Global Perspectives.

Fall 2023 Schedule

September 15, 2023: Welcoming Immigrants in Champaign County
Akua Forkuo-Sekyere, Director of the New American Welcome Center

September 22, 2023: Reimagine Our Future Undergraduate Sustainability Competition
Warren Lavey, College of Law & Leon Liebenberg, College of Engineering

September 29, 2023: A Shared Commitment to Campus and Community: UIUC and the University YMCA
Chancellor Robert J. Jones, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

October 6, 2023: Nikkeijin Illinois - Extended Stories
Jason Finkelman, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts

October 13, 2023: Ubuntu: Black Community Organizing and Coalition Politics in Champaign-Urbana
Alexander K. Horton, The Ubuntu Project - Champaign-Urbana

October 20, 2023: Educating for Democracy
Walter Feinberg, Author and Professor Emeritus, College of Education

October 27, 2023: Film Screening & Discussion: "How to Clean a House in 10 Easy Steps"
Carolina Gonzalez Valencia, Colombian American Artist and Filmmaker

November 3, 2023: Prison-to-Gown Project
Mike Brawn, Education Justice Project

November 10, 2023: Trans & Non-Binary 101
Aster Gilbert, Training & Public Education Institute at the Center on Halsted
Through our partnership with Uniting Pride of Champaign County


Students in front of a visual noteboard for Conversation Cafe about Environmental Justice
Student Panelists with DSJE Interns Terra and Karel for Friday Forum x Conversation Cafe on April 21, 2023: Environmental Justice


Friday Forum + Conversation Cafe by the Numbers


Flyer with data from DSJE Lunch on Us


Flyer with data from DSJE Lunch on Us

Past Calendars

Spring 2023

Our Community in Action:  Advancing Social Justice in Champaign-Urbana and Beyond

February 3, 2023: Stories From the Center: University Y Founders Day Event, Speakers Cassie Carroll, Mike Doyle, Becca Guyette, and John Jordan, Moderator: Scott Peters, Cornell  University

February 10, 2023: Art, Healing, and Justice, Speakers: Lou Turner, Liza Sylvestre, and Christopher Jones, Moderator: Sam Smith, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts

February 17, 2023: Envisioning Equity and Excellence in Public Schools, Speakers: Angela Ward, Amy Bloomberg, and Brandon Caffey, Moderator: Imani Bazzell, Center for Civic Engagement and Social Justice

February 24, 2023:  The Importance of Interfaith in Jewish Tradition, Speaker: Rabbi Allyson Zacharoff, New York University

March 3, 2023: Risograph, Zines, and "Cheap" Art, Speaker: Will Arnold, Art @ the Y exhibition on view through 3/10

March 24, 2023: Building Anti Racist Immigrant Communities: reflections on arts mediated dialog projects, Speaker: Ken Salo, Urban & Regional Planning

March 31, 2023: In pursuit of intersectional equity beyond the walls of academia: Learning from the marginalized Sunni-Baluch women needleworkers in peri-urban Iran, Speaker: Atyeh Ashtari, Urban Planning PhD Candidate

April 14, 2023: Community Violence and Anti-Violence Efforts, Speakers: Rachel Garthe, School of Social Work and Jorge Elvir, City of Champaign, Moderator: Sam Smith, KCPA

April 21, 2023: Environmental Activism and Change on Campus and Beyond, Adelina Avalos, Jorge Corral, Stefan Iliev, Alyssa Prisby, Claire Sullivan, Sakshi Vaya, Moderator: Karel Pene Njine, Daniela Marin, Hannah Beck, Terra Salgado, Hanaa Khan

Fall 2022

Our Community in Action:  Advancing Social Justice in Champaign-Urbana and Beyond

September 16, 2022: Welcoming Immigrants in Champaign County, Speaker Gloria Yen

September 23, 2022: AZUKI!! Manga as a Bridge Between Cultures, Speaker Kofi Bazzell-Smith

September 30, 2022: We are Here! Cultivating Belonging for our Queer Students of Color at Illinois, Speakers Dementro Powell & Carlton Cummings

October 7, 2022: I Go on Singing: Paul Robeson's Life in his Word and Song, Speaker Anthony Brown, accompanied by Philip De Luna

October 14, 2022: Faith and Race in Building Local Coalitions for Justice, Speakers Rev. Terrance Thomas & Rev. Michael Crosby

October 21 , 2022:  Neighborhood Ambassadors Program, Speaker Jacqueline Kalipeni

October 28, 2022: Juvenile Justice in Champaign County: A Wicked Possibility, part 1, Speaker Sam Smith

November 4, 2022: Juvenile Justice in Champaign County: A Wicked Possibility, part 2, Speaker Sam Smith

November 11, 2022: Keep HOPE Alive! We Can Prevent Violence in Champaign County, Speaker Tracy Dace

Spring 2022

February 4, 2022: Art at the Y: Radical Printmaking, Speaker William Estrada

February 11, 2022: Afrofuturism as Social Justice, Speakers Stacey Robinson & Jason Finkelman

February 18, 2022: Building Community Through Re-entry, Speakers Marlon Mitchell and Crushion Stubbs

February 25, 2022: Faith, Race, Loss, and Radical Hope, Speaker Rev. Jennifer Bailey

March 4, 2022: Community Resistance to Gentrification in Chicago, Speakers Christian Mejia & Dr. Jacquelyn Lyon

March 25, 2022: Bad, Fat, Black Girl: An Afternoon with a Trap Feminist, Speaker Sesali Bowen

April 1, 2022: Champaign Racial Justice Task Force, Speakers Minnie Pearson & Dr. Thom Moore

April 8, 2022: In the Wake of Unit 4's Resolution Against Racism, Speakers Dr. Ken Salo, Dr. Angela Ward, Ms. Brenda Taylor


Fall 2021

September 17, 2021: Intersectioins of Racism and Migration, Speakers Susan Ogwal, Lauren Aronson, Michael H. Leroy and James R. Fujimoto

September 24, 2021: Education Justice Project: Prison-to Gown Initiative, Speaker Rebecca Ginsburg

October 1, 2021: Future Spaces in Community Places: Closing the Gap on Town and Gown, Speaker Stacey Robinson

October 8, 2021: Protect our Vote: The History of African American Voting, Speaker Sundiata Keita Cha-Jua

October 15, 2021: Trauma & Resilience Initiative, Inc., Speaker Karen Crawford Simms

October 22, 2021: Moving Upstream: An Anti-Racist Approact to Healthcare Education, Speaker Kaytlin Reedy-Rogier

October 29, 2021: Anti-Hate Training with Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Speaker Catherine Shieh

November 5, 2021: How Oppression and Gender Based Violence are Linked: Why an Anti-Oppression Lens to Domestic and Sexual Violence is Necessary for an Inclusive Approach, Speakers Akua Forkuo-Sekyere, Elena Gonzalez & Women's Resources Center students

November 12, 2021: Shamar Betts Case: Unequal Justice in the Aftermath of George Floyd's Murder, Speakers Elisabeth R. Pollock, Savannah Donavan & Brian Dolinar