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What does a truly just society look like? How does it feel? How do we get there?

Join Illinois Humanities for a screening of the Chicago edition of the Visions of Justice video series followed by a panel discussion with local contributors. A Q&A with the panelists will be held after the discussion.

The event will take place on Thursday, October 7, 2021 from 6:00-7:30 p.m. during a live Zoom webinar. This event is free and open to the public.

Accessibility: This event will include closed captioning in English. If you require other accommodations, please contact Meredith Nnoka at at least 24 hours prior to the scheduled event.

About the Vision of Justice Series: Visions of Justice is an eight-part video and discussion series co-produced by Illinois Humanities in partnership with VAM STUDIO and features an array of Illinois organizers, artists, community members, and others working to confront the impacts of the criminal legal system and advance justice where they live. Learn more

About the Panelists

Denzel Burke is the 22-year-old Director of R.E.A.L (Rising. Elevating. And Leadership) Youth Initiative, a youth program that deters young people from the streets through mentorship and training. Born and raised in Chicago, Denzel has overcome incarceration as a juvenile and the loss of friends and family to gun violence, and is on a mission to help young people reach their full potential. His journey began while inside a co-ed juvenile facility. Currently Denzel is a re-entry coach for young people coming home and assists at Circles and Ciphers with peace circles. Denzel is also a Community Engagement Specialist for the Moran Centers project, Evanston’s Restorative Justice Community Court where Denzel facilitates community discussion.

Monica Cosby is a mom and grandma, activist, organizer, restorative justice and peace circle keeper, poet, person of the theater, and a lover of books, music, cats, dogs, and the earth. Her life and work have been shaped and informed by the communities she has belonged to, including the community of artists, scholars, and mothers with whom she was incarcerated for twenty years and whose survival was and is an act of resistance against a system that would dispose of them. Monica is Founder and Creative Director of Acting OutSide, a newly formed performance art crew.

Sharlyn Grace (she/her) is a founding member of Chicago Community Bond Fund and served as CCBF’s first Executive Director until early 2021. Before joining CCBF full-time, she was the Senior Criminal Justice Policy Analyst at Chicago Appleseed. In those roles, Sharlyn was part of launching and helping lead the Coalition to End Money Bond in 2016 and the Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice in 2019. In 2021, their joint five-year-long, statewide legislative campaign culminated in the passage of the Pretrial Fairness Act, which will make Illinois the first state to completely eliminate money bail. Outside of work, Sharlyn has provided legal and organizing support for grassroots movements in Chicago since 2012.

Akeem Soyan is a multi-disciplinary artist from the North Side of Chicago. Currently, he is also Co-Executive Director at Circles & Ciphers. He started attending Circles & Ciphers in search of community back in 2015 after dropping out of school to pursue music. Inevitably, he helped create peace circles that fuse hip-hop and restorative justice elements for young people in Rogers Park and at St. Charles Youth Jail. It was through his love of art and people that he developed a critical role in the work of serving young people and building solidarity within his own community.

About the Moderator

Meredith Nnoka, the Envisioning Justice Fellow at Illinois Humanities, is a Chicago-based writer, educator, and social justice advocate originally from Southern Maryland. She studied the intersecting histories of Black expressive arts and social movements at Smith College for her BA and later the University of Wisconsin-Madison for her MA, where she first considered the questions now central to her work: What is the power in bearing witness, and how can controlling our own narratives be used toward liberation?

Read more about the event on the Illinois Humanities website (here).

Presented by Illinois Humanities.