Center for Social Concerns statement for racial justice

June 3, 2020

March 12, 2020; National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama.         
Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame

The Center for Social Concerns remains committed to racial justice and exposing the white supremacy that prevents it. Reading the signs of the times, we realize there still exists a long way to go. Bishop Seitz of the Diocese of El Paso in his pastoral, “Night Will Be No More,” reminds us: "Challenging racism and white supremacy, whether in our hearts or in society, is a Christian imperative and the cost of not facing these issues head on, weighs much more heavily on those who live the reality of discrimination." In our ongoing commitment to listen, learn, grow, and act for racial justice, the center offers resources to walk with us on the journey. We invite you to join our work for racial justice through personal reflection, the center’s Act Justly seminar, advocacy, organizing, and education. You can find resources and links below.

Call it out! Reflections on Racial Justice

A call for student submissions

To create space for student processing and reflection on all that is happening in our world, students from the tri-campus community are invited to submit creative writing, poetry, visual art, and other forms of expression offering personal reflection and response to the issues of continued white supremacy and racial injustice during our present moment. The Center will feature selected works throughout the summer and fall semester. Please submit all writing or images to Melissa Marley Bonnichsen, Director of Leadership Formation, at

Act Justly: Racial Justice in America

Fall 2020 Social Concerns Seminar

This Social Concerns Seminar will focus on the historic and current impact of racial injustice and will engage the wider campus community in an initiative related to racial justice today. In light of the US bishops' pastoral letter on racism, Open Wide Our Hearts, the Act Justly seminar will invite course participants to reflect deeply on the historical struggle for racial justice in the United States, and seek to enact a deeper personal and social justice.

Students will read deeply from writers across the span of American history, engage in community reflection and analysis, and develop an initiative which invites engagement from our Notre Dame community and beyond. Readings for the course will include a survey of major essayists and advocates for racial justice throughout the history of the United States. Examples include: Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, James Baldwin, Angela Davis, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Ta-Nehisi Coates. Two sections will be offered. Additional information will be provided in June on the Act Justly webpage

Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) Campaign

A student-led campaign at Notre Dame

In 2019, Notre Dame students launched a campaign to end ND employees’ investments in private prisons through the University’s mandatory retirement plan. Publicly traded private prisons perpetuate mass incarceration, which is rooted in racism and disproportionately affects people of color. Racial justice demands an investment in human dignity and an end to profiting off our imprisoned sisters and brothers of color. To join students leading Notre Dame’s Socially Responsible Investing (ND SRI) campaign, please contact Elaine, Sophia and Maddie at,, and

Faith in Indiana Live Free Campaign

St. Joseph County Chapter

Faith in Indiana is a catalyst for marginalized people and people of faith to act collectively for racial and economic justice. In response to the death of George Floyd and many others who have lost their lives to police brutality, Faith in Indiana launched the Live Free Campaign which demands the reform of law enforcement. Join here to email Mayor Mueller and publicly announce your support of Live Free South Bend.

Live Free Reform Agenda
Adopt a strengthened police discipline matrix
Implement ongoing de-escalation and procedural justice training
Strengthen police use of force policy
Institute a 'Peacemaker Fellowship' Program
Respond to mental health crisis with treatment not incarceration

Remove unfair protections for officers in law enforcement contracts

We deserve a world where all lives are valued and our loved ones are safe. The only acceptable response is action. Contact Mayor Mueller today and support the Live Free Campaign here

Racial Justice Resources | ​Opportunities to Listen, Learn, and Reflect

Signs of the Times podcast episodes

Finding community in college can be difficult, but it can be especially difficult when you feel like you don't belong. Student Shelene Baiyee shares the struggles she faced her first few years at Notre Dame finding a sense of belonging, especially as a first generation American and the daughter of immigrant parents from St. Croix and Cameroon. Listen here

Jemar Tisby, Notre Dame alum and author of the book The Color of Compromise: The Truth About the American Church's Complicity in Racism, joins us on the podcast to discuss how the American church has helped create and maintain racist ideas and practices. In our conversation he details the difference between complicit Christianity and courageous Christianity and focuses on racism as systemic injustice. Listen here.

Nick Ottone, a senior at Notre Dame, has been involved in many center courses and programs during his four years all of which revolve around the study of race relations, incarceration, and the intersection of two. He shares how studying historical and current events led to feelings of anger and fueled his passion for working towards racial justice. and developing the Let's Talk About Race series. Listen here

This year the Center for Social Concerns explored the theme of racial justice through the Act Justly course, a Social Concerns Seminar that took place this past spring semester. The course is an examination of the American Civil Rights movement with an eye to our mutual responsibility to pursue racial justice today. It brought together students, faculty, and staff to reflect deeply on the historical struggle for racial justice in the United States, and to enact a deeper personal and social justice. Three students share their stories, reflections, and insights from the experience. Listen here

Catholic social teaching and related reflections

Mark Joseph Seitz, Bishop of El Paso​

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Bryan N. Massingale


Racial justice reading list

The New York Times, Nikole Hannah-Jones, '98

Claudia Rankine

Jemar Tisby, '02

James Baldwin

Ibram X. Kendi

Bryan Stevenson

Robin D'Angelo


View All Events

Upcoming Events

September 2021

Information Session | ISSLP 2022 (In-Person and Virtual)
Sunday, September 26, 2021 - 7:00pm to 8:00pm

October 2021

Signs of the Times Brown Bag Lunch Series | Refugees
Friday, October 1, 2021 - 12:00pm
Information Session | ISSLP 2022 (In-Person Only)
Monday, October 4, 2021 - 7:00pm to 8:00pm
What to do with my Ph.D.? Community Engagement Career Paths
Tuesday, October 5, 2021 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm
Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor
Tuesday, October 5, 2021 - 7:00pm
The Social
Thursday, October 7, 2021 - 4:30pm to 5:30pm
Information Session | Catholic Social Tradition Minor
Tuesday, October 12, 2021 - 6:30pm to 7:30pm
Information Session | ISSLP 2022 (In-Person and Virtual)
Wednesday, October 13, 2021 - 7:00pm to 8:00pm
Application Close | ISSLP 2022
Monday, October 25, 2021 - 12:00am to 11:45pm

November 2021

Labor Café First Friday
Friday, November 5, 2021 - 5:00pm to 6:00pm
Dignity and Justice Workshop
Friday, November 12, 2021 - 10:00am to 1:00pm
Higgins Labor CLASSics | Blue Collar (1978)
Sunday, November 14, 2021 - 3:00pm

December 2021

Signs of the Times Brown Bag Lunch Series | Housing
Friday, December 3, 2021 - 12:00pm
Labor Café First Friday
Friday, December 3, 2021 - 5:00pm to 6:00pm