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Furman hosts Fania E. Davis at MLK community breakfast

Fania E. Davis, co-founder of Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth, will speak Friday, Jan. 17, in Younts Conference Center.

Fania E. Davis, social justice activist and civil rights attorney, will speak at a community breakfast honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Friday, Jan. 17, at 8 a.m. in the Melvin and Dollie Younts Conference Center on the campus of Furman University.

Tickets for the event, which is open to the public, are $50 per person. Proceeds go toward the Joseph Vaughn Scholarship honoring Furman’s first African American student.

Davis’ talk and other MLK events are presented through a partnership between Furman University and the Alpha Phi Alpha Greenville Foundation.

Davis is co-founder and executive director of Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth, an organization that employs a set of principles and practices to mediate conflict, strengthen community and repair harm.

Davis hopes her talk will “inform and inspire people about a new way of thinking about and doing justice that is dawning on the stage of human history,” she said.

Davis accepted Furman’s invitation to speak because she “feels invested in Furman’s groundbreaking work” related to Universities Studying Slavery. More broadly, she says she is drawn to South Carolina for “historico-cultural reasons.” She cites Cato’s Rebellion (a.k.a. Stono Rebellion), the plight of freedom fighter Denmark Vesey and the more recent tragedy at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Davis has also spent time on St. Helena Island, South Carolina, where she learned about the Gullah culture and participated in the 1996 Coumba Lamba ceremony aimed at healing wounds inflicted upon Africans on both shores of the Atlantic by the Middle Passage.

Davis’ commitment to social transformation was galvanized as she came of age in Birmingham, Alabama, during the civil rights era that saw the murder of two close childhood friends in the 1963 bombing of the16th Street Baptist Church.

In the ensuing decades, she was active in black liberation, anti-racial violence, anti-apartheid and peace movements, and for civil rights, especially for women and prisoners. Her studies with indigenous healers, particularly in Africa, catalyzed Davis’ search for a healing justice, ultimately leading her to bring restorative justice to Oakland, California.

A writer, professor and scholar, Davis holds a doctorate degree in indigenous knowledge from the California Institute of Integral Studies. Her honors include the Ubuntu Award for service to humanity, the Dennis Maloney Award for Youth-Based Community and Restorative Justice, World Trust’s Healing Justice Award, the Tikkun (Repair the World) Award, the Ella Baker/Septima Clark Award, the Bioneer’s Changemaker Award, the LaFarge Social Justice Award, and recognition as an Ebony Power 100 Community Crusader.

A Woodrow Wilson Fellow, Davis was named a “new civil rights leader of the 21st century” by the Los Angeles Times.

For more information, contact Chandra Dillard at chandra.dillard@furman.edu, and 864-294-2503. Or visit Furman’s MLK website at Furman.edu/MLK.

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