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Simon’s Rock to Host Symposium Week on Social Justice and Inclusion
12:07PM / Wednesday, October 18, 2023
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GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Simon's Rock will host the Symposium on Social Justice and Inclusion, which is an annual program sponsored by the Council for Inclusive Community (CIC). 
This Symposium provides designated time and space for the Simon's Rock community to deconstruct barriers to action on important social justice issues — in the classroom and in day-to-day life, using a theme. This year the theme is Collective Activism.
This year's keynote guest  will be activist and author Shanae Watkins, speaking on Saturday, Oct. 28 at 3 p.m. in the McConnell Theater at the Daniel Arts Center on campus. The event can also be streamed virtually on Zoom:
Prior to the Keynote event, there will be a screening of the documentary on Watkins' early life, Girlhood, on Friday, Oct. 27 at 6:30 p.m. in the Fisher Lecture Center. Both parts of this event are free and open to the public. 
"This year, for Symposium Week, we are focusing on Collective Activism. During a time when many of us felt hopeless and isolated, we began to fight back with ways to bond, grow, learn, and experience new things together. We transitioned into an understanding of what the world, and our country, would look like surviving with COVID, but now we face the uncertainties of war internationally and governmental challenges domestically," said Sarah Porter-Liddell, Dean of Students and Equitable Community at Simon's Rock. "This wave of anxiety and fear has us scrambling to find a voice, to make change, and to find balance--a balance that Collective Activism will provide. As we gaze upon the many social issues around us, we are choosing Collective Activism as our shield of strength to help give voices to those who have been silenced, bring awareness to issues that feel distant, and do our due diligence to bring hope to a changing society. Collective Activism is action taken by a group of individuals who share a common goal for changing and enhancing conditions for others and themselves. The root word being Collective--meaning, a group of individuals who have decided that despite their differences, despite their backgrounds and access, that they will work together to achieve a goal and make things better. If 2023 is showing us anything, it is proving to us that now is the time to join in arms and push for change."
Additional events for the Symposium on Social Justice and Inclusion will run throughout the week on the Simon's Rock Campus. These events will be open to the Simon's Rock community. 
According to a press release: 
Shane Watkins has reshaped the trajectory and ripped off each of the negative labels that society attempted to place on her. A failure. A reject. A violent criminal. All by the age of 11. While her painful but short past positioned her on a difficult, often solo course to navigate, the label that blared from headlines further pushed Shanae into a fight against odds that consumed her teen and young adult years. From one chaotic experience, being kidnapped, to another — a hit and an attempted run around the age of five — she evolved from a naturally curious, wise beyond her years, to a "runner," leaving home for weeks at a time, unsure of her place anywhere so wanting to be everywhere. These choices, some hers and some made naively and more often predatorily for her, accelerated her from a little girl into a pre-teen who fell into misleading hands who took advantage of her desire to be free, that inevitably resulted in her freedom being taken away.
Healing through hardship as a single mom, rejection and abuse from the world she desired to feel safe in, as a woman she is one hundred percent invested in healing from what she now considers valuable lessons every single day.
First introduced internationally in the cable documentary, Girlhood, She has appeared on Oprah, Geraldo, The Montel Williams Show, and MSNBC, with regional appearances on panels speaking on the juvenile justice experience, childhood and adult trauma.
Today, Shanae is the proud, doting mom of three children; one son and two daughters. A business owner; customer services professional and provider of services catering to femininity and adult health and wellness. Featured as a co-host to a podcast created to help women find clarity in love, life and spiritual healing, and a published author to the 2022 electronic and hard copy long-awaited release, From Girlhood to Womanhood. She is a flower of feminine, dynamic light, with an infectious spirit that captivates hearts of all she meets.
Despite her circumstances, and despite the inner voice that sometimes spoke in unison of naysayers, Shanae refused to answer to the name that those experiences and society tried to give her, no matter the experience that society wanted to use to define her. Twenty years later, she is the rose that bloomed in darkness, and uses her own light in a frank, unapologetic, good good girlfriend way. She tells her story, in her debut as an author in her book From Girlhood to Womanhood, through profoundly personal words.
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