A keynote address by India Walton, Democratic nominee for mayor of Buffalo, was the highlight of Niagara University’s inaugural Justice Houses community building retreat. The presentation on Aug. 26 at the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center was attended by the 27 students who will be residents of Niagara University’s Justice Houses, a living and learning community centered on the pursuit of justice, and other members of the university community.
Walton, a working mother, nurse, community and union organizer, and nonprofit director, shared her vision for the future of Buffalo and her insights about building a movement and overcoming opposition. She encouraged the students to stay involved, stay curious, and celebrate the small wins along the way to change, and assured them that they have something to offer the world.
“Do everything with the spirit of love, care, and authenticity,” she advised, “because these are things that no one can take away from you. At the end of the day, the only person you have to prove yourself to is you.”
Students who live in the Justice Houses are able to connect their passion for the Earth and the environment, social justice, or legal advocacy to their life at Niagara and engage in projects and activities across the campus and beyond. The three-day retreat was an opportunity for them to build solidarity and begin the process of connecting to the local community. Other events included a tour of the Underground Railroad Heritage Center, a land acknowledgement ceremony, and an art project.