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What is the Activist-in-Residence Program?

Activism Speaker

Every semester, the Center for Social Justice’s Activist-in-Residence Program brings a social justice activist to campus to work with and interact directly with students. The activists come from a variety of social justice backgrounds and travel to Norman from around the world. 

Once on campus activists hold workshops, lead discussion groups, teach classes, screen movies, assist in planning projects and campaigns, and are available to students for informal conversations. The Center for Social Justice believes the personal contact and hands-on approach of the Activist-in-Residence Program truly benefits students and works toward our mission of inspiring students to become involved in social justice activism. 

Activists in Residence Mona's Class

The Center for Social Justice’s goal for the Activist-in-Residence program is for students to play a significant role in suggesting and selecting the activists.

Past Activists-in-Residence have included nationally touring poet, teaching artist and activist, Lauren Zuniga; Pradma Menon, queer feminist activist working nationally and internationally on social justice and human rights; and activist, feminist organizer for reproductive justice and sexual health, and blogger, Shelby Knox, to name a few.

Know a local or global social justice activist? Please email us at to submit their name. The Center hopes that the direct communication that is available with our Activists-in-Residence will foster openness to the possibility of creating a more peaceful and just world.

Call for Nominations

2019-2020 Activist-in-Residence

If you are interested in nominating an individual or group to be Activist-in-Residence for 2019-2020, please fill out the nomination form here:

The deadline for submissions is Monday, March 25, 2019.

Recommend an A-I-R

To be considered, AIR recommendations must include: 

  • The name and contact of the activist
  • A brief resume or CV of the activist’s work
  • For which semester (spring or fall)
  •  Statement of support for nomination

Previous Activists-in-Residence

Ellen- AIR

Fall 2018- Ellen is the executive director and co-founder of the organization "Poetic Justice", which focuses on bringing voice back to women incarcerated here in Oklahoma. The organization uses creative writing as a means of reinstating identity and has reached close to 2,000 women thus far. In 2015, she was one of ten women awarded the Women of the Year Pinnacle Award and was named a CNN Hero in 2018.



Chenjerai and Saadiqa Kumanyika

Spring 2016 - Chenjerai and Saadiqa Kumanyika are activists from South Carolina. Chenjerai holds a creativity professorship in Clemson University's Department of Communication Studies, and his work centers on diversity in public media. He is also a founding member of the hip-hop group Spooks whose first album, S.I.O.S.O.S. Vol. 1 (2000) produced singles that reached gold-selling in four countries placed highly on top ten charts around the world. Saadiqa is an educator and domestic violence and sexual assault advocate. Her work focuses on developing curriculums and workshops that strengthen community-based problem solving, social justice efficacy, and economic empowerment. In addition, she teaches Women in Global Perspective and Women and Leadership at Clemson University. 

Pamela Yates and Paco de Onís

Spring 2015 - Pamela Yates and Paco de Onís are the director/producer partnership behind Skylight Pictures, a company dedicated to creating feature length documentary films and digital media tools that advance awareness of human rights and the quest for justice by implementing multi-year outreach campaigns designed to engage, educate and activate social change.  

Claudia Bernardi

Spring 2014 - Claudia Bernardi is the creator and director of the School of Art and Open Studio of Perquin in Morazán, El Salvador, serving children, youth, adults, and the elderly. To learn more about Claudia's work, please visit the Walls of Hope website.

Gwendolyn Fields

Fall 2013 - Gwendolyn Fields advocates for the rights of disenfranchised groups, particularly those effected by the failed war on drugs and mass incarceration through her work as Executive Director of The Advocacy Council. For more information about Gwen's work and mission, please visit

The Selmon family

Fall 2012 and Spring 2013 - The Selmon family has a long and decorated history with the University of Oklahoma, the Norman community, and local and international activism. They started the SHINE Foundation in 2005 to help the Ma Feeta and the children of Rainbow Town in Liberia.

Lauren Zuniga

Spring 2012 - Lauren Zuniga is a nationally touring poet, teaching artist, and activist from the Oklahoma City area. She is currently ranked in the top five female poets from the 2012 Women of the World Poetry Slam. Visit Lauren's website.

Pramada Menon

Fall 2011 - Pramada Menon is a queer feminist activist and has been working nationally and internationally in the social justice and human rights sector for over two decades. Visit CREA, the organization Pramada co-founded.

Shelby Knox

Spring 2011 - Shelby Knox is an activist and blogger, feminist organizer for reproductive justice and sexual health. Visit Shelby's website.

Mona Eltahawy

Fall 2010 - Mona Eltahawy is an award winning columnist and an international public speaker on Arab and Muslim issues. Visit Mona's website.

Nathaniel Batchelder

Spring 2010 - Nathaniel Batchelder is Director of Peace House. Visit the Peace House's website.

Franciska Issaka

Fall 2009 - Franciska Issaka is a gender consultant serving development projects in Ghana. Visit the CENSUDI website.