Immigration Activist to Speak at CSU’s Diversity Banquet

Jose Antonio VargasCOLUMBUS, Ga. — Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, filmmaker and undocumented immigrant, will speak at Columbus State University this week for the 5th anniversary of the Legacy Celebration Banquet, a speaker series and awards reception honoring diversity on campus. The event, hosted by CSU’s Office of Diversity Programs and Services, is set to begin at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 9 at CSU’s Cunningham Conference Center.

Born in the Philippines, Vargas has lived in the United States since age 12. He has served as a writer, reporter or editor for the Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker and #EmergingUs, a new collaborative platform formed from a partnership between Vargas and the Los Angeles Times. Later this year, MTV will air a documentary directed by Vargas – a race-themed television special titled “The Untitled Whiteness Project.”

In 2011, Vargas wrote an essay for New York Times Magazine revealing his status as an undocumented immigrant living in the United States. Now the founder of Define American, a nonprofit media organization that seeks to elevate the conversation around immigration and citizenship in America, Vargas will visit Columbus State University to continue a dialogue he started four years ago.

“His [Vargas’] story is infectious,” said Johniqua Williams, student development specialist for CSU’s Office of Diversity Programs and Services. “We hope it will motivate our students to gain awareness, compassion and the spirit for activism on campus, in the community and across the nation. My hope is that everyone will leave the banquet inspired to be the change they want to see in the world.”

“We are excited to host Mr. Vargas at this year’s diversity celebration,” said Tom Hackett, interim president at Columbus State University. “Mr. Vargas will bring a new perspective on diversity to campus that I’m sure will strengthen our university’s culture of inclusiveness and help maintain a high level of institutional excellence.”

Following the banquet, the Inaugural Diversity Forum, a diversity conference, will be held at the Cunningham Center from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, April 10. Speakers Susan Cooper, director of the Urban League of Greater Columbus, and Mariano Castillo, writer and weekend supervisor for CNN Digital, will lead discussions on race, religion, gender, sexuality, disability, education, nationality, poverty and privilege.

For more information about CSU’s Legacy Celebration Banquet or the Diversity Forum, contact Williams at 706-507-8594 or visit