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Social Justice Series

Following the success of our inaugural Social Justice Series last year, OCC has returned with a new lineup of events for the 2021-2022 academic year. This year our presentations include topics relating to environmental change, mental health awareness, the criminal justice system, feminism, LGTBQ rights, and more!

For more information, please contact Dean Heidi Sheridan at

OCC Accessibility Statement

“Ocean County College complies with federal and state disability laws and makes reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities. If you have a disability and require reasonable accommodations to fully participate in this event (captioning, ASL interpreter, large or electronic print) please contact Kristyn Stout at All requests for accommodations must be received 5 business days prior to the event.”

2021 – 2022 Event Schedule

Presentation — OCC Shakespearean Whistleblowers: Ladies First
October 19, 11 a.m.
GATE (Bldg. #101) Room 104

College Lecturer II Ameer Sohrawardy hosts this event, which explores two scenes from Shakespeare’s plays showing female resistance to misogyny and oppression. The ensuing Q&A session will focus on how those two scenes provide lessons for today’s audience.

Register for OCC Shakespearean Whistleblowers event.

Speaker — Anna Deveare Smith
October 21, 11 a.m.
Grunin Center

The author and award-winning actress (West Wing, Nurse Jackie, Black-ish), appeared virtually at OCC in November 2020, to excellent reviews.

According to her website,, Anna Deavere Smith “looks at contemporary issues from multiple viewpoints and combines the journalistic technique of interviewing her subjects with the art of interpreting their words through performance.” Among the topics she addresses in her presentations are the vulnerability of youth, inequality, the criminal justice system and contemporary activism.

Watch Anna Deavere Smith’s TedTalk to learn more about her work.

This event is sponsored by the Blauvelt Speakers’ Series, which is funded in part by the generosity of the late Bradford Thomas & Eleanor G. Blauvelt and The Wintrode Family Foundation.

Hands-on Program for Students — Ending the Silence
October 22, 2 p.m.
BART 203

A program offered by NAMI National (National Alliance for Mental Illness) qualifies young adults to participate in the Ending the Silence program. OCC students will be counseled through NAMI about their own mental health concerns and trained to present to 8th-grade students and high schoolers in the Toms River Area.

Speaker — Aaron Potenza
November 16, 11 a.m.
GATE (Bldg. #101) Room 104

Aaron Potenza recently served on Governor Phil Murphy’s transition team as a member of the Education, Access and Opportunity Committee, and is the chair of New Jersey’s Transgender Equality Task Force, the first statewide interagency transgender task force in the country. Aaron is working with NJCASA toward an end to sexual violence through programs that are grounded in an anti-oppression framework that centers on survivors. His presentation would focus on his work and experiences seeking equality as a transgender gay male. He will give a historical overview of the gay rights movement and then focus specifically on public policy for trans rights in New Jersey. He will leave time for Q&A for students.

Film Series — Break the Chain
December 2, 11 a.m.
Tech (Bldg. #25) Room 115

College Lecturer II Jason Molloy will host this screening of the 2017 documentary that provides first-hand accounts of two survivors of child sex and labor trafficking within Michigan communities. The documentary looks at how trafficking often goes unnoticed and how we work to stop such a serious issue that happens closer to home than many people realize. Following the screening, there will be an opportunity for discussion. Visit the documentary’s website to learn more.

The Social Justice Series is presented through the collaboration of OCC’s Foundation, Student Life, the School of Arts and Humanities, the School of Business and Social Sciences, EOF, the Library, and the Grunin Center. For more information, please contact Heidi Sheridan, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities at

Previous Season

In September 2020, several Ocean County College departments launched a year-long series of monthly interactive events, films and lectures dealing with social justice issues — race, hunger, immigration, environmental change, gender and LGBTQ concerns, and more.

To date, the Social Justice Series has included a keynote presentation by award-winning actress and author Anna Deveare Smith (West Wing, Nurse Jackie, Black-ish) who addressed the vulnerability of youth, inequality, the criminal justice system and contemporary activism; screenings and workshops of the films 13th, about the 13th Amendment, and Color of Fear, stories of eight men of color and their experiences, and several timely events in October.

On October 14, Assistant Dean Veronica Guevara-Lovgren and College Lecturer IIs, Samantha Glassford and Stephen Downey led an Immigration Panel with OCC students featuring faculty and leaders from New Jersey immigration rights organizations and discussion of the experiences of Dreamers from around the region. A documentary on immigration by a recent OCC graduate also was screened and discussed.

Dr. Henry Jackson presented Voting Rights: A Social Justice Perspective on October 23, in which he explored the difference between the right to vote and the ability to vote, focusing on the 13th, 14th, 15th and 19th amendments and the Civil Rights Act of 1965.

Shakespeare Live! was presented on October 27 by College Lecturer IIs Ameer Sohrawardy and Paul Chalakani via WebEx for OCC students and local high school students. They featured the trial scene from Act 1, Scene 3 of Othello. After the performance the students took part in a Q&A session with the actors and director.

This Social Justice Series enjoyed a successful year, in spite of having to defer in-person elements of the programming due to the pandemic. The programming was so popular, an exciting new line-up — interactive, in-person (as well as virtual) — is being prepared for the 2021-22 season including films, panel discussions, speakers, theater, dance and poetry events.

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