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ASU brings Civil Rights Forum, advocacy, urban art to downtown

March 18, 2009

Arizona State University's "Action, Advocacy, Arts" will emphasize the strength of community dialogue and engagement through a series of free activities from 1:30 to 10 p.m. Friday, April 3 at the Downtown campus University Center, 411 N. Central Ave.

Highlights include:

• 1:30 to 3 p.m. - A Civil Rights Forum featuring national Native American rights leader John Echohawk, who has been called the "Thurgood Marshall of Indian Law."

• 3:30 to 5 p.m. - Open discussions led by experts on current civil rights and social issues, including immigration, health disparities, human trafficking and poverty in America.

• 6 to 10 p.m. - An Urban Art Exhibition featuring four new mixed media collections and a celebration of the arts as ASU joins the First Friday Art Walk.

"These activities serve as a catalyst to advance the goals of the community, bringing a wide variety of people and cultures together to exchange ideas and create solutions for current issues," says Debra Friedman, University Vice President and Dean of the College of Public Programs at the Downtown Phoenix campus.

Noted speaker Echohawk has long been regarded as one of the foremost litigators in matters of tribal sovereignty and the safeguarding of natural resources and ancestral burial sites. Recognized as one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America by the National Law Journal, Echohawk is co-founder and executive director of the Native American Rights Fund. Registration will begin at 1:30 p.m., followed by the forum at 2 p.m.

The Advocacy Dialogues from 3:30 to 5 p.m. will offer thought-provoking discussions on modern human concerns, including community organizing and development. Discussions will be led by ASU faculty, community leaders and civil rights activists.

The Urban Art Exhibition will feature more than 500 diverse pieces on display from ASU Emeritus faculty, nonprofit community organizations and artists, and Barrett Honors College students. Live music will be featured on two stages, along with dancers and interactive art demonstrations. Many artists and nonprofit groups will be on hand to discuss their artwork.

Among the new collections this year is "Migration: Immigration, Giving Honor to Cultures and Communities," designed to encourage open-minded dialogue about an important and often divisive current issue.

"I find it extremely important that we continue to engage one another as a community about critical social and civil rights issues which not only affect us as individuals, but our family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors," says Matt Besenfelder, Alumni and Community Outreach Coordinator for Public Allies Arizona.

Action, Advocacy, Arts is part of ASU's Four Realms of Discovery, a series of events across all four campuses designed to stimulate the mind, provoke intellectual conversation and empower you to make a difference.

For information about Action, Advocacy, Arts, visit: For information about the Four Realms of Discovery, visit: