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Martin Mogensen Education Lecture to focus on Hmong racial and gender justice in the modern era

| Sarah Tweedale

Kabzuag Vaj will share lessons learned from engaging in cross-racial solidarity with Black and Hmong people in her lecture “Organizing for Racial and Gender Justice in an Era of Trumpism through a Hmong Feminist Lens,” which is presented as the 2021 Martin Mogensen Education Lecture in conjunction with the UW-Eau Claire Center for Racial and Restorative Justice “Racing Toward Justice” speaker series. The event will be livestreamed at 6 p.m. March 8.

Kabzuag Vaj has 20 years of experience in working toward gender justice, police-free schools and ending deportation within Hmong and Southeast Asian communities. Through open dialogue, critical reflection and an examination of the ongoing work of Freedom Inc., Vaj’s lecture will assist educators in exploring ways to work toward racial equity and cross-racial solidarity with students, families and communities of color.

The Mogensen Education Lecture is free and open to the public.

About Kabzuag Vaj: Kabzuag Vaj was born in Laos and came to this country as a refugee child with her mother and siblings. She is founder and co-executive director of Freedom Inc. and has dedicated the majority of her life to ending gender-based violence. Her advocacy started when she was 16, assisting and housing at-risk teens and challenging abusive gender norms within her community. She is a strong believer that those who are most deeply impacted must be at the forefront of the movement. Those who are most impacted must have opportunities and resources to advocate for themselves and tell their own stories. In the past 20 years, Vaj has spent her life working to build collective power and social change within Southeast Asian and Black communities.

Freedom Inc. is an organization with the mission of ending violence within and against low-income communities of color by building the power of Black, Hmong and Khmer, women, queer folks and youth. Vaj is a co-owner/founder of Red Green Rivers, a social enterprise that works with artisan makers — most of whom are women and girls — from the Mekong Region of Southeast Asia. Vaj also is a co-founder of Building Our Future, a global community campaign that works to change traditional practices, behaviors and beliefs that contribute to gender-based violence within Hmong families while building the leadership of women and girls.

About the Martin Mogensen Education Lecture: The Martin Mogensen Education Lecture is held annually in memory of Martin Mogensen, a 1952 graduate of UW-Eau Claire. Mogensen was a junior high school principal in Tomah when he was killed by a student in 1969. His daughters, Marti Mogensen and Margaret Nelson Brinkhaus, also UW-Eau Claire graduates, and other family members began the lecture and an education scholarship through the UW-Eau Claire Foundation as a way to carry on Martin Mogensen's legacy: a deep faith in the value of education and teachers. The Mogensen family joins with the UW-Eau Claire College of Education and Human Sciences in bringing experts to speak to students, faculty and the public on contemporary education issues of the day. The Mogensen family also presents the Martin Mogensen Education Scholarship as part of the lecture event. The scholarship is provided annually to an outstanding undergraduate student, chosen by the faculty, who shows promise of becoming a successful career teacher.

The following is a comprehensive list of all speakers and topics that have been held in the history of the lecture series:

2019: Brian Jackson, leading educator, Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe tribal member, and president of the Wisconsin Indian Education Association. Lecture: Indigenous Teaching and Learning Framework: More Than Beads and Feathers
2018:
 Melissa Bollow Tempel, Bilingual educator, activist, author and culturally responsive teacher in Milwaukee Public Schools. Lecture: Supporting LGBTQ Inclusive Spaces
2017: Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings, Kellner Family Distinguished Professor in Urban Education at UW-Madison. Lecture: Hip-Hop, Hip Hope: The (R)Evolution of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy.
2016: Dr. Justin Patchin, co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center, professor of criminal justice in the political science department at the UW-Eau Claire. Lecture: Addressing Cyber-bullying: Promoting Teens’ Positive Use of Technology
2015: Amy Vatne Bintliff, reading Teacher/Anti-bias Researcher Oregon Middle School, Oregon, Wisconsin and 2014 Teaching Tolerance National Awardee for Excellence in Teaching.
Lecture: “Essential for All:  Implementing Anti-bias Education in Majority White Communities.”
2014: Ron Jacobson, dean of the Northwest University School of Education. Lecture: “Rethinking School Bullying: Dominance, Identity and School Culture.” 2013: Linda Christensen, Oregon Writing Project, Lewis & Clark College. Lecture: “Outrageous Hope: Literacy and Social Justice”
2013: Linda Christensen, Oregon Writing Project, Lewis & Clark College. Lecture: “Outrageous Hope: Literacy and Social Justice”
2012: Dr. Christine Sleeter, president of the National Association for Multicultural Education. Lecture: “Nurturing Intellectual Work.”
2011: Manuel Scott, motivational speaker. Lecture: “A Message of Hope from one of the Original Freedom Writers.”
2010: Dr. Christine Johnston, originator and lead researcher of the Let Me Learn Process® and former director of Rowan University’s Center for the Advancement of Learning. Lecture: “The ‘Lost in School’ Phenomenon: The Challenge Facing 21st-Century Educators.”
2009: Rick Miller, nationally recognized child advocate and founder of Kids at Hope. Lecture: “Kids at Hope, No Exceptions.”
2008: Sadarri, Rick and Autumn Joy Saskill, multicultural, multilingual storytellers. Lecture: “One World — Many Stories.”
2007: John Perricone, author of “Zen and the Art of Public School Teaching” and an educator for the Maine-Endwell School District. Lecture: “Why Am I a Teacher? Connecting with Those Reasons That Drew Me into This Profession.”
2006: Bill Bond, resident practitioner for Safe and Orderly Schools, National Association for
Secondary School Principals. Lecture: “Words Hurt the Heart: Understanding Bullying in the Context of School Violence.”
2005: Dr. Gerdur G. Oskarsdottir, superintendent of schools at the Reykjavik School District in Iceland. Lecture: “Global Perspectives as a Catalyst for Change in Teaching and Learning.”
2004: Dr. Gerald Gutek, professor emeritus and former dean of the school of education at Loyola University in Chicago. Lecture: “The Foundations of Education: A Turn to the Right or a Turn to the Left?”