1001 S. Wright St., Champaign, IL 61820 | Summer Hours: Mon-Fri 10:00-4:00 | hello.ymca@universityymca.org  |  (217) 337-1500

What is Friday Forum + Conversation Café?

A weekly forum to learn about and discuss pressing public concerns while enjoying free lunch from the Y Eatery. Friday Forum has been a continually running program at the University YMCA since 1927. Since 2021 the Y has partnered with Diversity & Social Justice Education at the University of Illinois and their Conversation Café.

Upcoming Events

Spring 2024 Series

Please join the University YMCA and Diversity & Social Justice Education for our Spring 2024 Friday Forum / Conversation Café series. We will hear from community leaders tackling our most pressing public concerns through an unwavering pursuit of social justice. We are excited to present the 1st semester of the 97th season of Friday Forum!

All presentations are open to the public and free on Fridays at 12 PM in Latzer Hall at the University YMCA, followed by a conversation with DiversityEd Staff at 1 PM.

  • 2/2 - Rev. Terrance Thomas, Pastor of Bethel AME - Exploring the Radical Black Church
  • 2/9 - Keith Knight, nationally acclaimed political cartoonist and musician - Cartooning Can Save the World!
  • 2/16 - Illinois State Rep. Carol Ammons - Good Ole Abe and Emancipation and Reparation
  • 2/23 - Nadia Bolz-Weber, Lutheran Pastor, NYT Bestselling Author - In Conversation with Rev. Leah Robberts-Mosser, Community United Church of Christ
  • 3/1 - Shannon Batman Percoco and Stacey Robinson, College of Fine & Applied Arts - The Role of Art in Uncertain Times: Activism, Advocacy, Medium and More
  • 3/22 - Charlene Teters, Artist, Activist and FAA Distinguished Alumni Recipient - The Education of Charlene Teters (Spokane Nation)
  • 4/5 - Jay Rosenstein, Dept. of Cinema and Media Studies - 'In Whose Honor?' 30 Years Battling Native Sports Mascot and Chief Illiniwek
  • 4/12 - Awad Awad, Salaam MENA Cultural Center - The Mission and Vision of the Salaam MENA Cultural Center
  • 4/19 - Isis Rose, Urbana-Champaign Reproductive Justice - Birth Justice: Midwifery Integration in East Central Illinois
  • 4/26 - McKenzie Johnson, College of ACES - Earth Day and Environmental Justice: Allies or Enemies?

Additional Information

Friday Forum is a weekly lecture series held during the fall and spring semesters that strives to raise awareness about national and international trends and events. It has been continuously running for 97 years at the University YMCA, adapting to the times while remaining committed to providing talks that address topics of relevance and urgency in our society.

The views expressed by the speakers do not necessarily reflect the views of the University YMCA, co-sponsors, or the Friday Forum committee. A sign language interpreter is available with a 72 hours notice (contact us at 217-337-1500).

All forums are radio broadcast at 6:00 p.m. on WEFT 90.1 the Wednesday following the lecture. Urbana Public Television also provides recordings of past Friday Forum lectures on their YouTube channel.

View our videos of the lectures on YouTube and photographs on Flickr.

Support the University YMCA Today!

With your support we offer and champion a diverse set of programs and student organizations committed to social justice, environmental protection, interfaith cooperation and global engagement by fostering dialogue, reflection and action.

Volunteer Opportunities

Unfortunately, we don't have any available positions at this time. Please check back in the future for more openings!

Sponsors & Partners

Did You Know?

Our Spring 2024 Sponsors

Friday Forum could not happen without the generous support of local individuals, organizations, and departments. We would like to thank all the members of our Friday Forum committee, and the following sponsors for helping to bring us this spring’s series!

Fall 2023 Sponsors

  • Center for Advanced Study
  • Center for Global Studies and the US Department of Education Title VI Grant
  • College of ACES
  • College of Education
  • The Counseling Center
  • Department of African American Studies
  • Department of Psychology
  • Department of Urban & Regional Planning
  • Education Justice Project
  • First Mennonite Church of Champaign-Urbana
  • First Presbyterian Church, Champaign
  • Gender & Sexuality Resource Center
  • Humanities Research Institute
  • Illini Hillel
  • Institute for Sustainability, Energy & Environment
  • League of Women Voters
  • Office of the Provost
  • School of Social Work
  • Sinai Temple
  • Social Action Council of the Unitarian-Universalist Church of Urbana Champaign
  • Urbana Champaign Friends Meeting
  • Urbana-Champaign Reproductive Justice
  • Women and Gender in Global Perspectives Program


The University YMCA relies on contributions to cover costs associated with this program. Your tax-deductible donation to programs like Friday Forum benefits students and the wider community. You can donate online, in person, or by mail. Checks can be made out to “University YMCA” and sent to 1001 S. Wright St., Champaign, IL 61820.

Real Impact

More than 1500 people attended the Friday Forum Series last year. Over 96% reported the experience was excellent or good and that they felt more aware of cultural and diversity issues.

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