During the week of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Day, the Center for Social Justice and Civic Engagement (CSJCE) at HNU planned several events that focused on the theme of labor justice.
On MLK Day, HNU students traveled with staff from the CSJCE to volunteer at Oakland Catholic Worker, where they helped cook and deliver meals to migrant day laborers. Later that week, the CSJCE held one of its regular Justice Cafés—sessions designed to stimulate conversation among students, faculty, and staff about ways that each individual can contribute to social change in his or her community.
One of the main events of the week was a community forum held on campus on January 19. Two representatives from Mujeres Unidas y Activas (MUA)—an organization that works with Latina immigrant women to promote personal transformation and work for social and economic justice—visited campus to speak to students and staff. Etelvina Lopez, a staff volunteer at MUA, and Marina Castelo, a high school student who interns at MUA, spoke in English and Spanish about the work that they do and the goals of the organization.
Lopez spoke in detail about the counseling that MUA offers for victims of domestic violence, the discussion sessions and workshops that MUA provides for women, and the advocacy work that they do to ensure that women’s work, both paid and unpaid, is recognized and valued. Both Lopez and Castelo mentioned the organizing work that MUA has done and continues to do with respect to the California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights (AB 241), which was passed in 2013, but that is due to expire on January 1, 2017.
“The idea is to take the law [the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights] national and then to the international level,” Lopez said, as translated by Javier De Paz, the assistant director of the CSJCE. “What women go through here, they also go through in Latin American countries and other parts of the world.”