Roosevelt’s Department of Humanities, in partnership with Illinois Humanities, served as the hub site for the 2018 Imagining America National Gathering at Roosevelt’s Chicago Campus this October.
Mina Matlon, the managing director of Imagining America, attended Roosevelt’s American Dream Reconsidered Conference in September. As she attended a spirited panel on policing and prison reform, Matlon noted that “a panelist observed that what we – the panel, the audience, this country – were experiencing was a lack of imagination. He specified an urgent need for our collective social imaginations to be expansive enough to conceive of worlds operating outside of carceral logics.” Matlon observed that it was just 5 weeks later that 500 scholars, artists, community organizers, activists and students gathered in Chicago and at Roosevelt University to tackle the current incarceration crises at the Imagining America Conference: “Transformative Imaginations: Decarceration and Liberatory Futures.”
Regina Buccola, professor of English and chair of Roosevelt’s Department of Humanities, served on the Steering Committee to plan the 2018 Gathering. “When I heard Mina say in the first meeting that Imagining America was looking for a downtown hub site to host most of the conference activities, I knew that Roosevelt’s Chicago Campus was the ideal place.” Buccola continued, “Roosevelt’s social justice mission and downtown location in gorgeous facilities ranging from the historic to the cutting edge made us the logical home base for these vital conversations which represent part of a seismic shift in thinking about how to dismantle the carceral state.”
Imagining America was launched at a 1999 White House Conference initiated by the While House Millennium Council to focus on renewing participation in all walks of U.S. life to “honor the past and imagine the future.”