The Fannie Lou Hamer Institute is hosting a virtual community meeting and town hall about reparations.
Entitled “Reparations Beyond Equity,” the town hall will be held on Saturday, Jan. 29 at 11 a.m. Some of the top economists, scholars, activists and reparations advocates are among the speakers and moderators. They include Dr. Tabatha L. Jones Jolivet, Dr. Ron Daniel, Dr. Julianna Malveaux, Kamm Howard, Dr. Melina Abdullah, Dr. Maulana Karenga and Robin Rue Simmons.
There will also be breakout sessions led by Andrea Slater, Arnette Mack, Dzhane Parker, Ericka R., Sandi Cook and Verneen Mincey.
The topics of discussion in the breakout sessions will include: “Why We Need Reparations for Black Americans,” “Reparations in Evanston, IL: How They Did It,” and “What Does Reparations Mean to You?”
Founded in 2017 in Los Angeles to promote the name, history, accomplishments and legacy of its namesake as a trailblazer and freedom fighter, the Fannie Lou Hamer Institute is on a mission “to educate, engage and involve people on issues of racial and social justice, and to facilitate the transfer of knowledge within the community.”
It has described itself as a community organization committed to creating “a world where Black women and girls thrive.” The reparations town hall is in line with its activism focus. Below is a brief bio of each main town hall speaker.
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Dr. Tabatha L. Jones Jolivet is an abolitionist organizer, educator, minister, and scholar. According to her bio on Azusa Pacific University’s website, Jones Jolivet’s praxis and scholarship are rooted in prophetic Christian faith, womanist worldmaking, and Black women’s grassroots organizing to upend oppressive ideologies, systems, and social institutions while building liberatory and life-affirming conditions for flourishing. She is an associate professor in the School of Behavioral and Applied Sciences at Azusa Pacific University and co-author of “White Jesus: The Architecture of Racism in Religion and Education.”
Dr. Ron Daniel is the founder and president of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century and convener of the National African American Reparations Commission. According to a bio on the State of Black America website, Daniels is a veteran social and political activist who ran for president in 1992 as an independent. He has served as executive director of the National Rainbow Push Coalition and the first Black American to be executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR). His institute is described as “a progressive, African-centered, action-oriented resource center dedicated to empowering people of African descent and marginalized communities.”
Dr. Julianna Malveaux is a dean at Cal State LA and president emerita of Bennett College for Women. According to her bio on her website, Malveaux is a renowned economist, author and commentator whose popular writings have appeared in a variety of top publications. She is a sought-after speaker on economics, women’s rights and public policy. A staunch reparations advocate, Malveaux has lectured at over 500 colleges and universities. She holds several leadership positions, sitting on the boards of the Economic Policy Institute, The Recreation Wish List Committee of Washington, D.C., and the Liberian Education Trust. Malveaux is also president of PUSH Excel, the educational branch of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.
Kamm Howard is a Chicago businessman and real estate investor, and an internationally respected reparations activist, according to a bio by the Facing Race National Conference. Howard has dedicated much of his lie to fighting for reparations for Black people across the globe. He has been a longtime member of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America or N’COBRA, of which he is the national male co-chair. In 2014, Howard spoke at the eighth Pan African Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa on the “new paradigm of reparations activism.” In 2016, he was a key organizer for the U.S. visit of the United Nations Working Group of Experts for People of African Descent, which proclaimed that the U.S. must engage in reparations.
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Dr. Melina Abdullah is a professor and former chair of Pan-African Studies at California State University, Los Angeles. According to her bio on Cal State’s website, Abdullah is a womanist scholar-activist – understanding the role that she plays in the academy as intrinsically linked to broader struggles for the liberation of oppressed people. She earned her Ph.D. and M.A. from the University of Southern California in political science and her B.A. from Howard University in African American studies. Appointed to the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission in 2014, Abdullah is a recognized expert on race, gender, class, and social movements and author of numerous articles and book chapters, with subjects ranging from political coalition building to womanist mothering.
Dr. Maulana Karenga is a professor and chair of the Department of Africana Studies at California State University, Long Beach. According to a bio on his website, Karenga is an ethical philosopher and the leading exponent of Maatian ethical thought. Over the last three decades, Karenga has developed a creative and scholarly Kawaida interpretation of ancient Egyptian ethical thought as a living tradition and a useful philosophical option for critical reflection on the urgent issues of our time. He holds two Ph.D.’s in leadership and human behavior/political science and social ethics with a focus on the classical African ethics of ancient Egypt. Karenga is also a prolific author with 17 books and monograph.
Robin Rue Simmons is the founder and executive director of FirstRepair, a nonprofit organization that informs local reparations, nationally. According to a bio on FirstRepair’s website, Simmons is the former 5th Ward Alderman for the City of Evanston, IL, where she led, in collaboration with others, the passage of the nation’s first municipal-funded reparations legislation. An entrepreneur and residential real estate broker, Simmons holds a degree in communications from the University of Nevada. She became troubled by the wealth disparities and concentrated poverty she witnessed locally and in other urban communities and began working to address them. Simmons is a commissioner of the National African American Reparations Commission (NAARC), a member of N’COBRA, a board member of Evanston’s Connections for the Homeless, and was a fellow at the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference/McCormick Theological Seminary.
To watch the conference live on Facebook, go the institute’s page @FannieLouHammerInstitute. For more information about the meeting and townhall, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
PHOTO: Fannie Lou Hamer, a leader of the Freedom Democratic party, speaks before the credentials committee of the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, August 22, 1964, in efforts to win accreditation for the group as Mississippi’s delegation to the convention. The Freedom group, composed almost entirely of African Americans, is opposed by the regular all-white Mississippi delegation. (AP Photo)