A Call to Come Together for Climate and Economic Justice

Activist and author Kali Akuno came to UCLA not just to share stories about his lifetime of advocacy for economic and climate justice, but to inspire his audience to join the fight. “I am here as an organizer to recruit you. To motivate you, struggle with you and get you to move in some particular ways,” Akuno told a standing-room-only crowd at the Charles E. Young Grand Salon at UCLA’s Kerckhoff Hall, part of the UC Regents’ Lecture Series. Akuno is co-editor of “Jackson Rising Redux: Lessons on Building the Future in the Present,” released on the same day as his April 11 talk. The updated collection of essays chronicles Jackson, Mississippi’s successful grassroots coalition-building, led by Cooperation Jackson, a nonprofit co-founded by Akuno. That emphasis on the power of coming together permeated his UCLA visit, which included an on-stage dialogue with Assistant Professor of Public Policy Jasmine Hill and office hours with students the following day. During his lecture, Akuno acknowledged that those who work against entrenched government and economic systems often become discouraged, “feeling that we are without a program, that we are without vision and oftentimes that we are without hope.” But the post-pandemic world has opened up a “profound period of opportunity,” he said, calling on progressive groups to set aside ideological and policy divisions, build a level of trust and just get to work. “I need you here in L.A. doing the best work that you can do, building as much power as you can build, and then let’s figure out how to be in dialogue with each other to build the future that we want.”

View photos on Flickr.

Regents' Lecture by Kali Akuno


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