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Center for Social Justice

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Summer Justice Series: Building a Community of Love, Power & Liberation

The National Education Association’s Center for Social Justice invites you to join us for the Summer Justice Series


This free Summer Justice Series will take participants to wide open spaces where a collective vision for education justice can emerge. Just like heading outside where we can see the world in new ways, these sessions will use art and music, storytelling, creative organizing strategies, and interactive discussions of key racial and social justice issues to guide us toward the change we seek.


The impacts of the pandemic and violence against Indigenous, Black, brown and LGBTQ communities has us all thinking a lot about what it means to be a community, how much harder we need to work to end systemic injustices, and the value of our public spaces and services to ensure our health, safety and ability to thrive. These unusual times provide an opportunity to explore innovative strategies to spark change while also taking time to experience healing and joy. 


Organized into three virtual sessions, involving over 30 dynamic workshops and events, we will be coming together to recharge, deepen our connections, and organize for the public schools and communities we all deserve.


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On April 20th, the NEA Board of Directors took the unprecedented action of transitioning the 2020 Representative Assembly to a virtual meeting and cancelling the Pre-Representative Assembly Meetings and Events due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) across the United States.

Unfortunately, this means we will not be convening the 2020 Conference on Racial and Social Justice (CRSJ) nor the Human and Civil Rights Awards. We are currently preparing to roll out how we will present and honor the HCR Awardees creatively and thoughtfully while also preparing a series of meaningful learning and engagement experiences virtually to continue to strengthen our collective ability to fight for racial and social justice.

We intend to honor the legacy of the ATA merger and uplift the HCR Awardees and engage you in the spirit of the CRSJ. Over the next two weeks we will be meeting with committees and stakeholders and will introduce our path forward as soon as possible.

We appreciate your patience and we will be in touch with a vision for lifting up our HCR Awardees and coming together to heal, build community, and prepare to fight with our students and communities for the racially and socially just schools we envision.

In unity,

Conference on Racial and Social Justice & Human and Civil Rights Awards Planning Teams


From The Joint Conference on the Concerns of Minorities and Women to The Conference on Racial and Social Justice

The antecedents for the Joint Conference on the Concerns of Minorities and Women date back to the early 1960s, although NEA’s commitment to – and involvement in – both arenas goes back much further. In 1962 the Association began holding what would become an annual conference on Human and Civil Rights in Education. In 1979, the NEA Women’s Caucus requested and received NEA funding for a pre-RA conference on women’s issues to be jointly sponsored by NEA and the NEA Women’s Caucus. There were two pre-RA conferences for a few years– one on ethnic minority issues and one on women’s issues. These two conferences were merged in 1983 into the Joint Conference, which has been held each year since.

There were a number of reasons underlying the joining of these two meetings. While NEA long had policies and programs relating to both women and ethnic minorities, the Association had been moving toward a more comprehensive and integrated approach in combating sexism and racism, and in protecting and advancing human and civil rights for all. An increasing number of common interests and shared needs were becoming apparent, highlighted by the particular challenges facing women of color. A joint conference provided a unified setting to explore some of these issues and engage NEA members around them while allowing individual trainings, workshops, and other sessions to address specific gender or racial issues as needed.

For the first ten years, the planning and conduct of the Joint Conference was an NEA staff responsibility with valuable input from the relevant NEA Caucuses. While both the Minority Affairs Committee and the Women’s Issues Committee were often asked to assist in the planning of the conference –– it was not a formal charge for either committee nor was either actually responsible for the planning of the conference until 1993 when both MAC and WIC were formally charged with working cooperatively in planning for the annual Joint Conference on Concerns of Minorities and Women.

The 2002 Report of the NEA Task Force on Sexual Orientation recommended and the Board adopted recommendations that the Joint Conference include Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered issues. Since then, there have been continued focused strategies to fully integrate issues related to LGBTQ into the Conference.

Through continued dialogue and following the passage of NBI B on Institutional Racism at the 2015 Representative Assembly, the Association has become more explicit in its language and work related to racial and social justice. This has included examining existing work, events and language to identify opportunities to be more explicit and improve inclusion. To move us forward on living our values as an organization regarding our work on racial and social justice issues , a proposal was made during the 2016-2017 fiscal year to adopt a new conference name, “The Conference on Racial and Social Justice” It was supported and approved by NEA President, Lily Eskelsen Garcia.

The Joint Conference on the Concerns of Minorities and Women has long been and will be continue to be recognized as a pillar of the Associations’ work on behalf of people of color and women. In addition to the name change, the purpose has also shifted to be more explicit about its intent. The goal is to provide a unique space for educators, students, parents & families, organizers, community members & leaders to unite for the advancement of Justice in Education. Through interactive workshops, sessions, panels and plenaries, attendees will have the opportunity to access information, resources, plan, strategize and engage on issues that impact educational opportunities for communities of color, LGBTQ and women.

The intent of all the changes made to the conference are to build on the foundations and traditions of the conference while also preparing for a new era of engagement and activism within the context of a rapidly changing educational landscape as well as conditions for our students and members, in and out of the classroom.


The Conference on Racial and Social Justice is presented by NEA’s Human and Civil Rights Department. The purpose of the conference is to provide a unique space for educators, students, parents and families, organizers, community members and leaders to unite for the advancement of Justice in Education. Through interactive workshops, sessions, panel and plenaries, attendees will have the opportunity to access information, resources, plan, strategize and engage on issues that impact educational opportunities for communities of color, LGBTQ and women.


Racial Justice

The systematic fair treatment of people of all races that results in equitable opportunities and outcomes for everyone.  

Social Justice

We believe that Social Justice is a goal. It is a vision of society in which: 

  • Distribution of resources is equitable, 
  • All members are physically and psychologically safe and secure, and 
  • Individuals are self-determining and interdependent.

Our principles for social justice are:

  • Celebrate/Acknowledge diversity. 
  • Understand mechanisms that perpetuate social oppression. 
  • Address oppression and discrimination head-on. 
  • Take positive actions to eliminate discrimination and social oppression.




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Conference Testimonials

The knowledge learned at the conference has equipped me to provide others factual and research-based knowledge that will help to identify and create strategies that will decrease racial and social tension in education.

The keynote speakers were amazing. I love the impact of the documentaries as well.

The issues and topics discussed were relevant, on point and very necessary.

I loved the speakers. They were all inspiring. I was captivated by the DJ who took us through a musical history of the civil rights movement and where we are today. I always love hearing from Lily, Becky, and Princess - they're amazing!

To get with others to learn and to take back information to my local members on how to succeed and go forward.

The best conference of a lifetime to attend! The conference inspired me to formulate a productive plan to decrease segregation and development of equal social justice in my community!

The keynote speakers…WOW!!! ….They made me stop and think and want to do more.

I honestly cannot put my finger on one piece. Fragments from the entire program (sessions, keynote speakers, speeches from Lily, Becky and Princess, and the AMAZING D.J.) touched me deeply.

The highlight of this conference was the honest conversation that each of the speakers engaged. This was my first time attending this conference. This has been one of the best experiences of my life. I appreciate the honest, candid conversations that took place throughout the entire conference.

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HCR Awards Program