17th annual Youth Social Justice Forum!

The 17th annual Youth Social Justice Forum was held in Milwaukee on Monday, November 14, 2016.

Every fall, the ACLU of Wisconsin Foundation joins community partners in sponsoring the day-long event to teach high school students to exercise, protect, and celebrate their civil rights and liberties. The event is free to participating high schools.

The Youth Social Justice Forum uses hands-on workshops, realistic role-play activities and issues from the news to teach students about their rights.

Participants learn about new media, public art, civics and government, discuss bullying, racial profiling, LGBTQ+ rights, restorative justice and other topics relevant to youth rights and responsibilities.

Students also participate in a mock election using real voting machines supplied by the City of Milwaukee Election Commission. Last year, the election topic was police-community relations in the City of Milwaukee. Students even have the chance to create their own audio public service announcements, courtesy of WMSE.

To apply: If your school is interested in participating in the 2017 Forum, please email Emilio De Torre, ACLU of Wisconsin Youth and Program Director, at edetorre@aclu-wi.org or call (414) 305-8569.  Reservations are required. Download the registration form here.


If you are interested in presenting a workshop at this year's Youth Social Justice Forum, please send a title and one paragraph description of the workshop with your phone number to Solana Patterson-Ramos at solana@aclu-wi.org before August 15th so that our panel can review them and make their selections.

In the paragraph, please explain how your workshop is connected to civil liberties or civil rights, and how you will specifically engage teenagers and make it engaging and interesting for them (for example, by using visual arts, storytelling, etc.), the ideal group size, and if you have any agencies or other partners who will be working with you.


2016 workshops include:

  • Black Lives Matter
  • Censoring the City: Hip Hop, Graffiti & the First Amendment—Facilitated by TRUE Skool
  • Free Speech and T-shirt Printing
  • Human Trafficking -  Facilitated by Martha Love
  • It’s Bigger Than Bullying  
  • Know Your Rights in Law Enforcement Encounters
  • My Vote, My Voice—Facilitated by League of Women Voters and Urban Underground
  • Out of the Closets and Into the Classroom
  • Poetry, Politics and Power - Facilitated by Angie Trudell-Vasquez
  • Printmaking, Art & Activism - Facilitated by the UWM Printing Department
  • Shared Power Shared Voice - Facilitated By the Alliance School Circle Keepers
  • Student Privacy: Searches, Consent, and Your Rights
  • Supporting Prisoners’ Civil Rights—Facilitated by IWW
  • That’s Law: Examining Sexual Consent and Rights in Hip Hop- Facilitated by Planned Parenthood
  • Using Your Smartphone to Tell a Story -  Facilitated by Jenny Plevin, Doc UWM
  • You Mad or Naw? - Facilitated by Annika Leonard and Tameika Lawrence
  • Youth Rising Up—Turning Talk Into Action -  Facilitated by Running Rebels


We extend special thanks to our 2015 community partners, including:

  • ACLU Student Alliance at Alliance High School
  • ACLU Student Alliance at NOVA High School
  • ACLU Student Alliance and Amnesty International at Rufus King HS
  • University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
  • ACLU Student Alliance at UW-Milwaukee
  • Urban Underground
  • TRUE Skool
  • City of Milwaukee Election Commission
  • Milwaukee Public Theatre
  • YWCA Southeastern Wisconsin
  • MPS - Partnership for the Arts and Humanities
  • University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
  • UWM - Cultures and Communities
  • UWM - Peck School of the Arts
  • UWM – LGBT Resource Center
  • NAACP Milwaukee Branch
  • DJ Bizzon
  • Overpass Light Brigade