Honors College at UMass Amherst Hosts Panel on Immigration Issues

AMHERST, Mass. - Three activists will discuss national and local immigration issues on Thursday, Nov. 18 at 6:30 p.m. in the Bernie Dallas Room at the Goodell Building at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. "Immigration: An Exploration of Current Local and National Civil Rights Struggles" is the second event in the Civic Engagement Dialogue Series presented by the Community Engagement Program of Commonwealth Honors College.

The series brings together faculty, students, community leaders, educators and activists to exchange ideas about critical social issues and civic engagement. The event is free and open to the public.

Panelists for the event are Caroline Murray of the Alliance to Develop Power, Jeff Napolitano, of the American Friends Service Committee, and Luis Perez, former head of a land cooperative in Chiapas, Mexico. An opening poetry reading will be presented by Martin Espada.

Caroline Murray has been organizing for social and economic justice for more than 20 years with particular emphasis on civic engagement, developing grassroots leadership and cooperative economic development. Since 1992, Murray has been the executive director of the Alliance to Develop Power (ADP) in Springfield, a nationally recognized multi-racial membership organization. ADP plays critical roles in a number of national coalitions and campaigns, including the Fair Immigration Reform Movement.

Jeff Napolitano is the program director for the Western Massachusetts office of the American Friends Service Committee. The Northampton-based program, founded in 1968, focuses on social justice issues including immigration, military counter-recruitment, peace education, anti-war organizing, and non-violence trainings for youth. Napolitano is also an organizer with the Western Massachusetts Coalition for Immigrant and Workers’ Rights.

Luis Perez is from Chiapas, Mexico where he once headed a land cooperative. He has been in the U.S. for seven years and previously worked harvesting tomatoes in Immokalee, Florida. He currently works at a landscaping company in Connecticut and has been organizing local immigrants in Springfield with the Pioneer Valley Project since 2007.

Martin Espada has been called the "Latino poet of his generation" and the "Pablo Neruda of North American authors." He has published 17 books and received numerous awards for his poetry. A former tenant lawyer, Espada is a professor of English at UMass Amherst.

Commonwealth Honors College at UMass Amherst provides an intellectually challenging honors curriculum for undergraduates. The college’s Community Engagement Program integrates academic learning and community engagement to foster leadership development and promote a more just society.