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Following the failure to indict the Ferguson, MO police officer responsible for the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in 2014, a collective of University of Washington faculty joined the outpouring of anguish we witnessed among our students by organizing the first of what has become an annual teach-in on national and global struggles for racial justice.

The four activists of Women of Color for Systemic Change in front of the Seattle’s federal building shortly after a Dec. 6 “Black Lives Matter” protest they led. From left to right, Harmony Wright, Aretha Basu, Jazmine Canez and Zemzem Ahmed. (Photo courtesy of Jazmine Canez)

The four activists of Women of Color for Systemic Change in front of the Seattle’s federal building shortly after a Dec. 6 “Black Lives Matter” protest they led. From left to right, Harmony Wright, Aretha Basu, Jazmine Canez and Zemzem Ahmed. (Photo courtesy of Jazmine Canez, published in The Seattle Globalist, 1/19/2015)

Our inspiration was the leadership shown by local student and youth activists in the aftermath of the Ferguson uprising. We watched with admiration as young women of color activists organized and led a city-wide protest march that created a space to voice our collective outrage, and decided that organizing a teach-in was a productive way that we, as faculty, could do something proactive to help make sense of and respond to the crisis of state-sanctioned violence against communities of color.

Our first teach-in (January 23, 2015), “Ferguson and Beyond: Race, State Violence, and Activist Agendas for Social Justice in the 21st Century,” focused on police use of deadly force against unarmed African Americans. Against the backdrop of a continued crisis of state-sanctioned racial violence, our second teach-in (January 22, 2016), “#BlackLivesMatter: The Imperative of Racial Justice Activism in Our Time,” focused on the growing movement to challenge anti-black racism and the critical role of activism in that struggle. This year, on January 13, 2017, “We Stand Together” focuses on the ongoing challenge to center Anti-Racism, Grassroots Activism, and Global Solidarities in the wake of the Nov. 8 presidential election.