National Writing Project

2013 Urban Sites Network Conference

Urban Sites Network Events

2013 Urban Sites Network Conference

Writers of Social Justice: How One Pen Can Change the World

April 26–27, 2013

Birmingham, Alabama
Host site: Red Mountain Writing Project

The Red Mountain Writing Project and the 21st Century Literacies Conference present the 2013 Urban Sites Network Conference, Writers of Social Justice: How One Pen Can Change the World.

Join educators from around the country to explore how writing can empower students and teachers to enact social change in their communities.


A registration form is available on the Red Mountain Writing Project website where payment by credit card is accepted. You can also download and mail the registration form below. Student rates are available. Deadline: April 12, 2013.

Accommodations and Transportation

Rooms for the conference are available at Sheraton Birmingham Hotel .

  • Reserve online: You can reserve a room at the discounted rate by going here . Deadline for Block Rate: March 15
  • Reservations by phone: Call the hotel at (205) 324-5000 and ask for the Urban Sites Conference block of rooms. (Rooms are available for the following dates at the conference rate: April 22–May 1): $119—Single/double occupancy, plus tax. Deadline for Block Rate: March 15
  • Transportation: Complimentary airport shuttle service and hotel shuttle service within three miles of the hotel is provided; call (205) 324-5000 for arrangements. Also, taxi service is available from the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport; estimated fares between the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport and the hotel are $10.


Steve Zemelman

Carolyn McKinstry is a native of Birmingham, Alabama. She was present on September 15, 1963 at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church where four of Carolyn's friends were killed. As a teenager, Carolyn attended mass meetings and rallies at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and was among thousands of students hosed by firemen during the 1963 marches. She survived a second bomb explosion that destroyed a large portion of her home in 1964. While The World Watched details her life growing up in Birmingham and "lessons learned" from her experiences and involvement in the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement of the sixties.

Steve Zemelman

Steve Zemelman is the co-founder and director of the Illinois Writing Project , former director of the Center for City Schools . He is also the director of Professional Development at Leadership for Quality Education, a school reform organization in Chicago. His books include Best Practice: Bringing Standards to Life in America's Classrooms , A Community of Writers , and A Writing Project: Training Teachers of Composition from K-College . Steve is also the co-founder of Teachers Speak Up , a website dedicated to supporting teachers in advocating for themselves and their practice.

Judge Helen Shores Lee

Helen Shores Lee serves as a judge for the Jefferson County Court in Birmingham, Alabama. In her book, The Gentle Giant of Dynamite Hill: The Untold Story of Arthur Shores and His Family's Fight for Civil Rights, she and her sister provide firsthand accounts of their father's encounters during the Civil Rights Movement as an attorney in 1960s and the three bombing attempts on their home.

Conference Highlights

» Thursday Pre-Conference (9 a.m.–3 p.m.)
  • All day preconference session on one of the following: Common Core, the Civil Rights Movement, Content Area Literacies, or urban literacies. Lunch on your own.
» Friday
  • Optional Tour, 9 a.m.–2 p.m.: Historical Birmingham—Birmingham Civil Rights Institute , 16th Street Baptist Church , Kelly-Ingram Park
  • Optional Tour, 9 a.m.–2 p.m.: School Site Visits
  • Roundtable with Civil Rights Movers and Shakers
  • Reception 5:15 p.m.–7:30 p.m.: A Refined Tailgating Experience, attire business casual with college t-shirt or school colors.
  • Open Mic 7:30 p.m.–8:30 p.m.: Participants read pieces of writing
  • Late Night Movie 8:30 p.m.–10:30 p.m.: The Barber of Birmingham
» Saturday
  • Four Rounds of Workshops and Sessions (throughout the day)
  • Continental Breakfast (7:30 a.m.–8:30 a.m.)
  • Keynote speakers Carolyn McKinstry, Steve Zemelman, and Judge Helen Shores Lee
  • Panel discussion with first- and secondhand accounts of the Civil Rights Movement
  • Lunch (Noon–1:00 p.m.)
  • Annual USN Town Hall Meeting (4:30 p.m.–5:30 p.m.)

Downloadable Files

Registration Form and Flyer
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2013 USN Conference Speaker List
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For more information, contact the conference team at
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