An Intellectual Sit-In: Dr. John E. Jacob and Mildred “MIT” Joyner (April 21, 2021)

On April 21, 2021, HUSSW hosted the first in a series of “Intellectual Sit-in” conversations. The first Intellectual Sit-In conversation was held with Dr. John E. Jacob, an acclaimed civil rights leader, corporate executive, and HUSSW alumnus. Dr. Mildred “Mit” Joyner, our inaugural 2021 John E. and Barbara S. Jacob Social Work Endowed Professor, sat down to speak with Dr. Jacob.

Dr. Joyner begins by asking Dr. Jacob his thoughts regarding whether justice has been achieved for Mr. George Floyd. In his captivating reply, Dr. Jacob discusses having gone to the same high school as Mr. Floyd in Houston, TX and the ways he envisions a transformation in the way our country addresses community safety. He and Dr. Joyner go on to discuss the role of social work in community organizing, strategies for connecting with powerful leaders and corporations to advocate for solutions to social justice issues, and the risks they believe must be taken to amplify the voices of oppressed groups. Dr. Jacob also recalls the inspiration he derived from watching his HUSSW classmates engage in political and social activism while he was a student.

In describing the bold, constant work that social justice advocates must do to advance human rights and promote justice, Dr. Jacob likened the social worker to a gazelle, and the oppressive systems to a lion. Each day the gazelle wakes up and chooses to outrun the lion, it will live to see another day in the fight for survival. Each day the lion fails to catch up to the slowest gazelle, however, it gets weaker and weaker. Dr. Jacob reminds us that so long as we "wake up and get in the fight" each morning, the systems perpetuating racial injustice will weaken and then break.

We invite you to watch the full recording of this event, available for your viewing at this link or you access it below:


This special series will highlight civil rights and social justice champions as well as scholarship discussions about contemporary issues of the day. Please also visit the HUSSW Multidisciplinary Gerontology Center's podcast, "GrandStories: Profiles in Aging," which features a riveting interview with Dr. John Jacob. You can access this podcast via the link here