Studio@620 The Studio@620

Studio@620 Round Table on Social Justice

A forum for Tampa Bay community leaders to discuss social justice issues affecting our community

Immigration: Facts and Fears

Immigration remains one of the most contentious issues on the nation's political agenda. Throughout America's history, immigration has been both a crucial component to our economic growth and a source of conflict. After years of debate on the issue, the Bush administration ended without any national or legislative consensus on the issue. We hope in our roundtable discussion to be able to sort out the "facts and fears" surrounding the immigration issue. The Republican-controlled House rejected President Bush's plan for a guest worker program, and instead called for the deportation of all illegal immigrants and proposed making it a felony to offer them any assistance. Hispanic groups have pushed President Obama for comprehensive legislation that balances law enforcement with the opening of new legal pathways to citizenship. The Obama administration so far has given little indication of how it will approach this issue. We will try to sort through these political issues that so dramatically impact the basic human rights of thousands in our country.

Panel Discussants:
Stacie Blake, Executive Director for Community Tampa Bay

Juan Pablo Chavez, Membership Organizer for the Florida Immigrant Coalition

Arturo R. Rios, Esq., Immigration Law and Trial Advocacy

Moderator: Bill Felice, Professor of Political Science at Eckerd College

Poverty and Economic Justice in a Time of Crisis

March 11, 2009

Economic justice. What does it mean during a major economic crisis? During the March roundtable discussion, we will explore the role of law and government programs in addressing or not addressing issues of economic justice, the economy's squeeze on local businesses and citizens, the trickle-down effect of decisions made at the state and national levels, and the impact of the economic downturn on our neighbors.


James W. Fox, Jr. - Professor of Law at Stetson University College of Law and Board Member for Gulfcoast Legal Services.
Professor Fox teaches courses on American Legal History, Contract Law and Poverty Law. He has written on the history and theory of democratic citizenship and poverty and on contract theory in journals such as the Howard Law Journal, Temple Political and Civil Rights Law Review, the Case Western Reserve Law Review, the University of Pittsburgh Law Review, and the Washington University Law Quarterly.

Jamie Bennett - City of St. Petersburg Councilman, District 5.
Councilman Bennett was elected in 2001. He has served on several committees, including, Budget, Finance and Taxation; Community Development Block Grant (CDBG); Social Action Funding; and the Pinellas County Homeless Leadership Network.

Jane Egbert - Executive Director of the St. Petersburg Free Clinic. For almost 40 years, the St. Petersburg Free Clinic has provided temporary assistance for those who require help with basic needs. The basic needs are food, shelter, medical care, limited financial assistance, and referral information. Those who are assisted are mainly the "working poor" and those that "fall through the cracks" of other existing services.

Alizza Punzalan-Hall - Director of Community and Media Relations at Eckerd College

Future Roundtable Discussions

April 1, 2009 : Immigration / Cuba

"From 'We Shall Overcome' to 'Yes We Can': The Historic Meaning of President Barack Obama"

February 4, 2009

"What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility -- a recognition on the part of every American that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world; duties that we do not grudgingly accept, but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship. This is the source of our confidence -- the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny. This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed, why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall; and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served in a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath."

-Excerpted from the Jan. 20, 2009 Inaugural Address of Barack Obama, the first African-American elected President of the United States of America

They marched, they boycotted, they sat, they stood, they prayed, they sang, they were arrested, they rode, they were silent, they were outspoken, they were beaten, they gave their lives.  The February Social Justice Round Table will reflect on the actions of those who came before us – those who laid the foundation for the nation's first Black President.

  • 6:00 – 6:45  Reception
  • 6:45 – 7:45  Film
  • 7:45 – 9:00  Discussion


"Constitutional Law and the Civil Rights Movement: Visiting History and Heroes"

(Produced by Stetson University College of Law, 2009, 51 min.)

Through interviews, site visits and personal reflections, this documentary follows USF history professor Ray Arsenault, Stetson law professor Robert Bickel and local students as they experience the Civil Rights Movement through the eyes and voices of those who lived it.


Ernest "Rip" Patton, Freedom Rider and veteran of the Civil Rights Movement; Cheryl Rodriguez, University of South Florida Associate Professor of Africana Studies and Anthropology; Blake Johnson, Eckerd College senior and president of the Eckerd College Organization of Students


Ray Arsenault, John Hope Franklin Professor of Southern History and Co-Director of the Florida Studies Program at USF St. Petersburg

Special Guests:

Three additional Freedom Riders are expected to attend! Please help us welcome them to the Studio.


Previous Discussions

Below are brief synopsis of past Social Round Table discussions.

It Takes Two: The Marriage Amendment and Tolerance

This event was held on October 15, 2008

The October Social Justice Round Table at the Studio@620 will explore the implications of Amendment 2 to all citizens in Florida.  If passed, the amendment will ban all recognition and benefits for unmarried couples, straight and gay.  It will block civil unions, domestic partnership and repeal existing protections and family benefits relied upon by millions of Floridians.  According to current polls, this measure will likely pass.  It is supported by significant blocks of voters supporting both presidential candidates.  We hope that the round table will not only help all of us to better understand the stark implications of this amendment, but also comprehend why such a radical proposal could soon be a part of our state constitution.  Why are democrats and republicans voting yes on Amendment 2?

Discussants: Howard Troxler, columnist for the St. Petersburg Times; Cynthia G. Hawkins-Leon, Professor of Law at Stetson University College of Law; and Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida. He will be joining us from the Miami office. More info on him:  Representative from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

Moderator: Bill Felice, Professor of Political Science at Eckerd College


"Feel the Heat: Climate Change, Vulnerability and Environmental Justice"

This event was held on November 20, 2008

Discussants: Monique Hardin, Co-Director and Attorney, Advocates for Environmental Human Rights in New Orleans; Dr. Barbara Poore, U.S. Geological Survey

Moderator: David Hastings, Associate Professor of Marine Science and Chemistry at Eckerd College

At Issue: Many discussions relating to climate change focus on environmental concerns, including harm to wildlife, changing seasons, and ocean acidity, while they miss out on the human element. How will those people who are least able to adjust or adapt be affected by changing climate, rising sea levels, and storms like Katrina? How will society respond to those who are the most vulnerable to future climate catastrophe(s)?


Program Overview

This round table discussion series is co-sponsored by Eckerd College, Stetson University College of Law and the University of South Florida-St. Petersburg

Launched during the 2005-2006 season, the 620 Round Tables on Social Justice explore local, national and global issues that affect our lives and, all too often, infringe upon human dignity. We at The Studio@620 would like to provide an environment where we can learn from each other and grapple with the complexity of the dramatic social issues in our community. Eckerd College Professor of Political Science Bill Felice, University of South Florida Professor of History Ray Arsenault, Eckerd College Associate Professor of Marine Science and Chemistry David Hastings, and Eckerd’s Director of Community and Media Relations Alizza Punzalan-Hall will serve as co-facilitators of the round table discussions.


Patron Sponsors

Smith & Associates Realtors
Al May Central Art Supply Company Bank of AmericaBella Brava City of St. Petersburg Creative Loafing Eckerd CollegeHermanHOME Florida Humanities Council i love the 'burg Gobioff Foundation Florida Arts and Culture - Florida Division  of Cultural Affairs Kahwa Coffee Roasting Law Offices of  Diane Bailey, P.C.Progress Energy Renaissance Vinoy Hotel Rouson & Associates Sembler Company Stetson University College of Law St. Pete Brasserie St Petersburg/Clearwater  Convention and Visitor’s Bureau St. Petersburg Times SunTrust Bank TradeWinds Island Resorts on St. Pete Beach Trust for Public Land Tyrone Frame & Mirror USF St. Petersburg Watermark