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Sparer Symposium 2020

Acclaimed lawyer, civil rights agitator, and North Philadelphian Cecil B. Moore once famously proclaimed: “I don’t want no more than the white man, but I won’t take no less… [so] let’s fight the damn system!” Nearly fifty years later, the “system” in Philadelphia continues to subordinate people of color, especially Black people, and to reinforce white supremacy in our nation’s poorest big city. Accordingly, Philadelphians of color continue to engage in the struggle for racial and economic justice and to refuse to “take no less.” How have grassroots organizers in Philadelphia built power, shaped the city, and fought for liberation in the face of entrenched white supremacy? And what role might lawyers and the law play in the battle for true and transformative justice in Philadelphia? 

Join us for the 39th Edward V. Sparer Symposium, titled “Philly Rising: Organizing and Lawyering for Racial and Economic Justice,” featuring local academics, practitioners, and organizers mobilizing against systems of racial oppression and marginalization in Philadelphia. The symposium will take the form of moderated panels highlighting how Philly-based organizers and lawyers have responded to racial and economic injustices in housing, incarceration and policing, environmental racism, and education.



8:30 a.m. Continental Breakfast and Registration
9:00 a.m. Opening Remarks
9:30 a.m.

Breaking Down Barriers: Ensuring the Promise of Healthy Affordable Homes (1.5 ethics)

  • Kendra Brooks, Philadelphia Council Member At-Large
  • Daniel Aldana Cohen, Assistant Professor of Sociology at University of Pennsylvania and Director at Socio-Spatial Climate Collaborative 
  • Leonard M. Dow, Stewardship and Development Specialist at Everence
  • Rasheedah Phillips, Senior Advocate Resources & Training Attorney at Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law
11:00 a.m.

Education & Its Role in Social Justice: Avenues for Change (1.5 ethics)

  • Sara Goldrick-Rab, Professor of Higher Education Policy and Sociology at Temple University
  • Ismael Jimenez, Philadelphia Teacher and Chair of Educator’s Caucus
  • ShaVon Savage, Principal at Henry C. Lea Elementary School
12:30 p.m. Lunch
1:00 p.m.

Environmental Justice: Cultivating Community Power to Fight Corporate Interests and Environmental Racism (1.5 substantive)

  • Nicholas O’Rourke, Community Organizer for POWER and Pastor of Living Water United Church of Christ
  • Jerome Shabazz, Executive Director of Overbrook Environmental Education Center
  • Dr. Nicky Sheats, Director of the Center for the Urban Environment of the John S. Watson Institute for Public Policy at Thomas Edison State University
2:30 p.m.

Policing and The Carceral State (1.5 substantive)

  • Robert Saleem Holbrook, Director of Community Organizing at Abolitionist Law Center and Co-Founder of the Human Rights Coalition
  • Naji Mujahid, Attorney
  • Remaining Panelists TBA
4:00 p.m.

Keynote Address (1.0 substantive)

5:00 p.m. Closing Remarks and Reception

This program has been approved for 7.0 (4.0 substantive and 3.0 ethics) total CLE credits for Pennsylvania lawyers. CLE credit may be available in other jurisdictions as well. Attendees seeking CLE credit should bring separate payment in the amount of $280.00 ($70.00 public interest/non-profit attorneys) cash or check made payable to 
The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania.