Sidney Harris is a Sociology Major and a member of IU’s chapter of Black Student Union.
How did you get involved with this year’s Themester theme?
I was recommended and asked to apply to be a themester committee advisor by Professor Alex Lichenstein. So I applied and was chosen!
How did you come to select Barber and Trumka/what was your process for organizing the event?
The program was essentially the dream child of Ben Robinson and I took a special interest in the topic as I have a heart for social justice issues in particular racial equality and justice issues. Selecting Barber and Trumka was the easiest tasks required of the event, because they are two of the most influential men currently in the labor and racial equality and justice arenas, from there it was just a matter of getting everything logistically set up and organized.
What do you hope students will take away from the event?
I hope that students took away from the event that the issues of labor and race are not mutually exclusive but are intrinsically intertwined. I hope that they were able to see the urgency and relevance of these issues as national moral issues that demand our attention and action. finally I hope that they were able to see the ways in which they could affect change or at least become more knowledgeable about these issues that directly effect each and every one of us.
What does labor mean to you?
Labor translates directly to opportunity and power. The ways in which we as individuals as well as the collective are able to have agency and control over our bodies and labor is the key to democratic freedom, and so to me labor equates to the measure of freedom in a nation. The opportunity for fair, equal, and just labor is something that in my opinion is spiritually and biblically necessary and required at all times, and to give anything less than that is an injustice against humanity. So labor has major implications that manifest in all of our daily lives, therefore something to be taken extremely seriously.
You can watch the Barber / Trumka discussion "Labor and Civil Rights: Bold Legacies and New Directions" here.