Focus: Social Justice


Dusquene University Educational Leadership Symposium

As the civil rights movement Black Lives Matter burst onto the campaign trail and college campuses to unify, inspire and give voice against the continuing legacy of racism in the U.S., we took part in the convening of 60 academics, community leaders, professors, church pastors, organizers, mentors and high school students for Rivers of Justice: Bridges of Love, two days of theater, storytelling, collective poetry, inter-generational dialogue, and visual art to explore two fundamental questions: How do we reclaim voices of innocence and imagine rivers of renewal? How do past reflections and present perceptions foster hope to generate action?

"In a world..."


Upon entering the room on the first evening, everyone received a ‘Card of Lost Innocence’, a fan with the photo and story of a young black person who has been recently killed by police violence. Large photographs of their faces lined the room to invoke their presence and guide us in the work. We began by writing a poem for that person and calling out their names, along with other innocent lives who have been taken, as community elders ceremoniously poured out libations of water in their honor.

Honoring the loss of these lives prepared us to work toward a better future.

In a circle, we completed the sentence:


In a world where Black Lives Matter, I imagine…

"...A world where a black father doesn’t have to teach his child to how to interact with police before he teaches them about the birds and bees.”
"...A world where black children know they are wanted.”
"...A world where I can truly live and not just survive."

Mediums of Expression

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  • Collective Poems
  • Theater
  • Movement
  • Social Media
  • Visual Art

"CAI created a learning space that was gracious and generous in its capacity to hold all of who we were individually and the possibilities of who we can be collectively." - Dr. Gretchen Generatte, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies & Research, Dusquene University

Principal Leadership Institute

Creative Resistance: UC Berkeley Students Promote Racial Equity

After the verdict of the Trayvon Martin case, anonymous people defaced an Angela Davis poster with hate language on the campus of the Principal Leadership Institute (PLI) at UC Berkeley, a graduate program for school administrators. PLI reached out to CAI to assist in transforming the racist incident into an opportunity for courageous conversations and creative resistance.

CAI offered a 2-day training in Creative Leadership to a cohort of graduate students and faculty to experience and learn arts-based interactive tools for more effective collaboration and dialogue around systemic issues in their communities and schools and design a creative response to the incident that occurred on their campus.

In addition to conceiving and creating an interactive, arts-based tool that promoted healing and courageous conversations about race within the PLI community, participants gained firsthand experience in using creative methods for social change. Movement, theater, mural making, creating public message generating a dialogue about systemic racism with themes of compassion, empathy and solidarity.

On July 25, 2014, as part of their graduation ceremony, their public art response was unveiled for a crowd of 100 people. The Tree of Racism served to illustrate microaggressions, structural racism and their historical roots. The Quilt of Resistance highlighted actions to dismantle racism that are rooted in compassion, empathy, and solidarity.

“This training allowed participants to creatively think about and respond to racism within our society.” - D.M. Kloker
“Amazing activities that I will definitely take to my school site…. Engaging teachers in the activities you shared with us will enable them to relax before we get to the courageous conversation.”

Community United Against Violence (CUAV)

CUAV provides support and organizes campaigns for the rights of the LGBTQ community in San Francisco. We engaged staff in an intensive training in Theater of the Oppressed techniques to more effectively conduct education, healing and outreach for those impacted by abuse and discrimination.