Esther Bush on social injustice

This past Thursday night, a small group of about 15 students filed through the doors of Mudge House and into the piano lounge. After getting settled, a speaker introduced herself personally to all of the students, asking their names and years, as well as where they were from. Esther Bush, president and CEO of the Urban League of Pittsburgh, spoke to the students gathered there about the importance of community activism on both local and global levels, particularly in regard to the unjustifiable differences among races.

Bush was brought to speak to the Carnegie Mellon University community as part of a traditionally second semester, student-run series of lectures called Local Currents. Local Currents tends to act as a smaller semester-long followup to first semester?s more globally focused Carnegie Lecture Series. In spring of 2002, student Aria Thomases, then the Community Advisor for Mudge, began to bring lecturers to campus to talk about her passion, the environment. Through the years, the series has expanded to include a variety of topics including homelessness, abortion, and the death penalty.

This year, Mudge housefellow Niloo Sobhani asked a Carnegie Lecture Series regular, Ryan Menefee, to organize the series of speakers for spring. Menefee, president of the New House Council, works with Sobhani and Mudge RA Kate Cummings to bring high-profile locals passionate about community activism to campus. Menefee says of the lecture series, ?It?s a forum for open discussion, but also a way for people to connect with others with their interests. It?s about the environment, the arts, social justice.?

Each speaker that comes will address another aspect of community activism on a local level. Hearing these people speak may help students, especially those newer to the area, see what Pittsburgh has to offer. Menefee says, ?For me, I?m really interested in doing Local Currents because it gives me a chance to show people who aren?t from Pittsburgh that these are the opportunities you have. These are great ways to make connections.?

During her lecture, Bush pinpointed the goal of the entire series: ?I?m pleased to have the opportunity to speak up and speak out.? She left the audience with a wealth of new information about social justice or injustice, about getting involved in one?s community, and about speaking out about one?s passions. The environment readily facilitated interaction with the speaker, and will hopefully continue to do so throughout this series.

Local Currents will continue to host interesting speakers throughout the semester. On this Thursday, Debra Lane of the Steinbrenner Institute will talk about the Green Initiative. The following week, on Tuesday, April 19, Jeffrey Dorsey of the Penn Avenue Arts Initiative will speak. Each lecture is held in the Mudge piano lounge at 7:30 pm. Also related is ?Creating Global Citizens: A Faculty Forum,? an event on this Tuesday at 5:30 pm in the Connan Room. This forum will be an opportunity to discuss the potential of broadening the undergraduate curricular experience, as opposed to a continued specialized, and perhaps narrow, current curriculum.