January Term 2012 Speakers

The speaker series is an annual staple of January Term, SMC’s intense month-long semester when students are encouraged to step out of their comfort zones, explore new intellectual territory and take classes that often embody the Lasallian tradition of social action.  Speakers for Jan Term 2013 will be announced Fall 2012. 

The year 2012 had the theme of "Crossing Borders," which featured prison warden-turned-death penalty opponent Jeanne Woodford and Bay Area cultural cartographer Rebecca Solnit, and also examined "White Privilege" via a Hip-Hop performance by Ariel Luckey.


Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012, 7 p.m.
Jeanne Woodford, Executive Director, Death Penalty Focus

Jeanne Woodford, Executive Director, Death Penalty FocusJeanne Woodford oversaw four executions as the Undersecretary and Director of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). Currently, as the Executive Director of Death Penalty Focus, she leads a national effort to end the death penalty in California and the rest of the country. Woodford, who says "I've killed four people for the state of California, and it didn't make anything better for anyone," presented a lecture about her personal evolution on the death penalty. The former San Quentin Prison warden is currently pushing the Safe California law (safecalifornia.org), a new initiative that would replace capital punishment in the state with a sentence of life imprisonment without parole. She, and other supporters, are seeking 500,000 signatures by March 2012 to place the measure before voters. So far they've garnered just over 200,000 names.

Read a story about her speech at Saint Mary's:
Former San Quentin Warden Urges Abolition of Death Penalty

Watch a short video clip from her presentation.


Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012, 7 p.m.
Rebecca Solnit, Author

Rebecca SolnitA cultural historian, Rebecca Solnit spoke on "Crossing the Public/Private Divide," exploring how the boundaries between public and private life are policed and how they break open in crises such as natural disasters and during moments of dissent such as the Occupy movement. The San Francisco writer says "For me all this is also about the deep and unacknowledged desires people have to live in public, to have a voice, to feel like a member of society, a participant, not an observer." Solnit is the author of thirteen books about art, landscape, public and collective life, ecology, politics, hope, meandering, reverie, and memory. They include November 2010’s "Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas," a book of 22 maps and nearly 30 collaborators; 2009's "A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster," and many others. 

Read a story about her speech at Saint Mary's:
Rebecca Solnit Sees Hope Rising From Disaster

Watch a short video clip of her presentation.


Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012, 7 p.m.
Ariel Luckey, Actor, Hip Hop Poet, Playwright

Ariel LuckeyAriel Luckey challenged audiences to examine the legacies of white privilege by holding a mirror up to his own family's journey through American history. His lecture, entitled "Free Land: Race and Land in United States," expanded on areas explored in his one man play "Free Land." In the solo hip hop theater production, Luckey, the descendant of white homesteaders from Wyoming, examined the ugly underside of a free government land grant from the 1860s -- a grant that gave his ranching family opportunity, but which in reality was, as he describes, part of a “legacy of theft and genocide in the Wild Wild West." Luckey's community and performance work dances in the crossroads of education, art, and activism. The Oakland-based acclaimed poet, actor, and playwright was named a “visionary” by Utne Reader in 2008. 

Read about his appearance:
Ariel Lucky Performs "Free Land" at Saint Mary's