Social Justice Speaker Series


Unique Speakers Series to Open Dialogue About Social Justice

Dayton Metro Library is pleased to continue the Social Justice Speaker Series, which aims to understand and demonstrate the effects of social justice in society.

This series is comprised of unique, award-winning and professional speakers. Patrons will have the opportunity to listen to them discuss some of the most critical social justice issues of today, as they provide insights from their professional fields and personal journeys.

Registration is not required, but each program is designed for a specific age group, click the events to see these age groups, and more details.


SJSS: From Active Duty to Activist - Melissa Rodriguez

Sep 22nd | 4:00pm - 5:30pm
Join us for a dynamic conversation with Melissa Rodriguez who will share about her experience as a veteran and activist. Melissa was…

Join us for a dynamic conversation with Melissa Rodriguez who will share about her experience as a veteran and activist. Melissa was born in Azusa, California. She is of Mexican and Indigenous descent. Her maternal grandparents immigrated from Mexico and her paternal descend from the Southwest region. Her great-grandfather and grandfather were migrant farmworkers in Southern California. She retired from the Air Force in Aug 2013 at Wright-Patterson AFB after serving 24 years on active duty. Melissa is active in community and political activism. Her desire to serve has continued beyond her time on active duty. This includes issues such as Veteran Affairs, LGBTQ, Healthcare, Immigration and Women’s rights. Melissa's passion for activism comes partly from her life experience and journey navigating the intersectionality of her identity. This drives her to advocate for communities deeply impacted by inequality. She now leads a grassroots group DIFA that advocates and educates on social justice issues and voting.

In this discussion, Melissa will reflect her years of service as an active duty member of the Air Force and as a local activist. Melissa will share lessons learned from building Dayton Indivisible for All, an organization that draws attention to social justice issues and voting. She will discuss the role that her Mexican and Indigenous heritage plays in her life, as well as the challenges of being a gay, Hispanic, woman in the military.

This program is in conjunction with Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month

SJSS: Queer Voices in Hip Hop

Oct 5th | 6:00pm - 8:00pm
In conjunction with DML's celebration to honor Hip Hop's 50th Anniversary and is co-sponsored by the University of Dayton's Music Dept.

Join us for a dynamic evening with Dr. Lauron Kehrer to explore Queer voices in Hop Hop. Dr. Kehrer is Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology and Musicology in the School of Music at Western Michigan University where they teach courses in popular music, global music cultures, and western art music. Their research focuses on the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality in American popular music, especially hip hop. Dr. Kehrer has published articles on queer identity and women’s music, white rapper Macklemore’s LGBTQ activism, and queer resonances in the work of Beyoncé in the journals American Music, the Journal of the Society for American Music, and Popular Music and Society, respectively. The latter received honorable mention for the 2020 Marcia Herndon Prize for exceptional ethnomusicological work in gender and sexuality from the Society for Ethnomusicology. Their book, Queer Voices in Hip Hop: Cultures, Communities, and Contemporary Performance (University of Michigan Press, 2022) examines the work of Black queer and trans artists in hip hop.

SJSS: Workers Fight Back - Christian Smalls

Oct 19th | 6:00pm - 7:30pm
This program is co-sponsored by IUE-CWA and Co-Op Dayton

Join us for a dynamic conversation with Christian Smalls, the founder and president of the Amazon Labor Union, an independent, democratic, worker-led labor union at Amazon in Staten Island. He is also the founder of The Congress of Essential Workers (TCOEW), a nationwide collective of essential workers and allies fighting for better working conditions, better wages, and a better world.

Smalls was formerly an Amazon warehouse supervisor, helping open three major warehouses in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut during his five years with the company, but he was fired in 2020 after organizing a protest against the company’s unsafe pandemic conditions. Both his firing and the unsafe conditions have become the subject of an ongoing lawsuit by New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Smalls has been profiled by media outlets worldwide, including The New York Times, USA Today, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, CBC Radio, Salon, and Jacobin. He lives in Hackensack, New Jersey.

SJSS: To Be Brown and Gay in the USA

Nov 13th | 4:00pm - 6:00pm
This event was made possible with the sponsorship of the Friends of the Dayton Metro Library.

Join us for a dynamic evening with Dr. Anthony Ocampo. Dr. Ocampo is a scholar and writer who focuses on issues of immigration, race and ethnicity, and gender and sexuality. He is the author of The Latinos of Asia: How Filipino Americans Break the Rules of Race, recently featured on NPR Morning Edition. His book examines the racial lives of Filipino Americans, who trace their roots to a society in Asia, but also share many cultural characteristics with Latinos. The Latinos of Asia raises the puzzle: Are Filipinos in the United States “becoming” Asian American or Latino? Ocampo draws on the voices of Filipino Americans to demonstrate how demographic shifts in the U.S. are changing the way immigrants and children understand race. His book also provides a foreshadowing of what race relations in America will look like as our society moves further away from the black- white racial paradigm.

Dr. Ocampo's most recent book, To Be Brown and Gay in L.A. (September 2022), chronicles the way gay men of color from immigrant families negotiate race, gender, and sexuality within their families, neighborhoods, schools, and mainstream LGBT spaces. This book builds on his scholarly research on ethnic and sexual minorities, which has been published in some of the leading journals in the field, such as Ethnic and Racial Studies; Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies; Race, Ethnicity, and Education; Latino Studies; and Journal of Asian American Studies.

Dr. Ocampo has also co-edited two major collections in race and ethnic studies: Contemporary Asian America: A Multidisciplinary Reader and Asian American Society: An Encyclopedia. Beyond his scholarly writings, he has also been featured as a commentator for local and national news outlets, including CNN, 60 Minutes, and The San Francisco Chronicle. Dr. Ocampo also has a regular segment “All Things Fil-Am with Dr. O” on Kababayan Today, a daily talk show for and about Filipino Americans.

Dr. Ocampo is a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the School of Public Policy at UC Riverside and Assistant Professor of Sociology at Cal Poly Pomona. He has served as a dedicated mentor to first-generation students of color through the Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program, and his former advisees have earned admission to prestigious graduate programs at Stanford, Harvard, Columbia, and the University of California. At Cal Poly Pomona, he has been a recipient of the Provost Teacher-Scholar Award and an Outstanding Teaching Award.

A native Los Angeleno, Dr. Ocampo is a graduate of Stanford University (BA ’03, MA ’04) and the University of California, Los Angeles (MA ’06, PhD ’11).

Past Social Justice Speaker Series Guests

Dr. ShaDawn "Boobie" Battle and Company: The Chicago Footwork Experience
July 22 , 2023 | Event Photos

Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women
May 18, 2023 | Event Photos

AAPI Feminist Leadership
May 6, 2023 | Event Photos

Local Children's Authors
Kiara Berry, Henry Benton, & Kwaunisha Moore
July 09, 2022 | Event Photos, opens a new window

Candice Brackeen
General Partner at Lightship Capital
August 6 , 2022
Event Photos, opens a new window  |  Event Video, opens a new window

Dr. Kurt Russell
2022 National Teacher of the Year
April 25, 2023 | Event Photos, opens a new window

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