History of the Social Justice Initiative
Philander Smith College launched its Social Justice Initiative (SJI) in August of 2007 under the leadership and vision of President Walter M. Kimbrough. With support and backing from faculty, alumni, students and the board of trustees, Philander Smith College changed its mission “to graduate academically accomplished students, grounded as advocates for social justice, determined to change the world for the better.” This rebranding of the college’s identity compliments Philander’s history, which has always had a social justice focus, as well as its commitment to the social principles of the United Methodist Church.
Following the changing of the college mission, other critical milestones followed:
In 2010 the Kresge Foundation awarded the college $1.2 million dollars to establish an office for the SJI to continue to infuse social justice into the college’s culture. It is out of this opportunity that the office of the SJI was created and the vision, mission, strategic objectives and organizational values were contrived.
- The inclusion of special guest speakers and justice themes for Opening Convocation
- Inviting Bless The Mic lecturers who are renowned for their noteworthy activism
- The creation of the Ozell Sutton Medal of Justice
- The infusion of social justice themes in the Freshman Colloquium
- Increase of Justice-related internships for students
- Changing the College's address to honor social justice activist Daisy L. Gatson Bates
- The establishment and meeting of the Social Justice Advisory Board
- The founding of the student organization “The Social Justice League”