Associate Professor of Law, The Ohio State University
Michelle Alexander is a highly acclaimed civil rights lawyer, advocate, and legal scholar. Formerly an associate professor of law at Stanford Law School; she directed the Civil Rights Clinics and pursued a research agenda focused on the intersection of race and criminal justice. In 2005, Alexander won a Soros Justice Fellowship that supported the writing of The New Jim Crow. The same year, Michelle accepted a joint appointment at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University. Prior to joining academia, she engaged in civil rights litigation in both the private and nonprofit sector, ultimately serving as the director of the Racial Justice Project for the ACLU of Northern California, where she helped lead a national campaign against racial profiling.
National Director, Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools
Keron Blair is an organizer with ten years of experience working for social change. Keron is currently the National Director of the Alliance to Reclaim our Schools(AROS). AROS is a national alliance of teachers, students and parents working together to save public education and to ensure that all children have access to high quality schools that prepare them to participate fully in society. Prior to his tenure with AROS, Keron was the membership director for United Worker Families in Chicago. He was also the Field Director for Raise Illinois--a statewide campaign to raise Illinois' minimum wage, and Illinois Unites for Marriage-- the campaign that secured the freedom to marry for gay people in Illinois.
Dr. Angela Davis
Distinguished Professor Emerita, University of California
Through her activism and scholarship over the last decades, Angela Davis has been deeply involved in our nation’s quest for social justice. Her work as an educator – both at the university level and in the larger public sphere – has always emphasized the importance of building communities of struggle for economic, racial, and gender equality. She is Distinguished Professor Emerita of History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies at UC Santa Cruz, and the author of nine books, including her most recent book of essays called The Meaning of Freedom. In recent years a persistent theme of her work has been the range of social problems associated with incarceration and the generalized criminalization of those communities that are most affected by poverty and racial discrimination. She is a founding member of Critical Resistance, a national organization dedicated to the dismantling of the prison industrial complex. Internationally, she is affiliated with Sisters Inside, an abolitionist organization based in Queensland, Australia that works in solidarity with women in prison.
Attorney, Community Justice Project
Alana Greer is an attorney and co-founder of Community Justice Project, Inc. She has worked with students, community leaders, homeless folks, and stakeholders to end the criminalization of communities of color and oppressed people. Since 2013, Alana has worked closely with the Dream Defenders as a staff attorney at Advancement Project, and supported the organization throughout the Takeover of the Florida Capitol. Her work in Broward County, Florida alongside grassroots leaders from the NAACP to reduce school-based arrests and suspensions and has become a national model for ending the School-to-Prison Pipeline. Alana is passionate about lifting up the voices of young people and using the law to support grassroots movements seeking to dismantle structural racism and inequality. She has been awarded an Echoing Green Fellowship and the Harvard Public Service Venture Fund for her work supporting movements. She was born and raised in Miami, Florida.
Pastor Michael McBride
Director of Urban Strategies and Lifelines to Healing Campaign, PICO
Pastor Michael McBride (known as “Pastor Mike”) is a native of San Francisco and has been active in ministry for over 20 years. A graduate of Duke University’s Divinity School, with an emphasis in Ethics and Public Policy, Pastor Mike serves as the Lead Pastor of The Way Christian Center. In March 2012, he became the National Director for the Lifelines to Healing/LIVE FREE Campaign with the PICO National Network, a campaign led by hundreds of faith congregations throughout the United States committed to addressing gun violence and mass incarceration of young people of color. He has served on a number of local and national task forces with the White House and Department of Justice regarding gun violence prevention, boys and men of color and police-community relationships.
National Political Director, Communication Workers of America
Since early 2012, Rafael Navar has served as the National Political Director for the Communication Workers of America (CWA), the largest telecommunications union in the world. As one of only two current Latino National Political Directors within organized labor, he is committed to building one of the most progressive rank and file led political programs in the country. Rafael began his career working in support of international human and indigenous rights with the National Commission for Democracy in Mexico, coordinating the US portion of an international referendum on indigenous rights. His later experiences as a community organizer with Dolores Mission/Proyecto Pastoral and the Bus Riders Union eventually led him to join SEIU Local 99 as Political Director. While there, Rafael dramatically increased fundraising, volunteer recruitment, and community activism, eventually assuming responsibility for SEIU International’s political operations for the entire Western Region.
Executive Director, Arab American Association of New York
Ambitious, outspoken and independent, Linda shatters stereotypes of Muslim women while also treasuring her religious and ethnic heritage. She is a Palestinian Muslim American and a self-proclaimed “pure New Yorker, born and raised in Brooklyn!” She is the Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York, a non-profit social service and advocacy organization serving the Arab American and Arab immigrant communities in New York City. In 2013, she co-founded the Muslim Democratic Club of New York, the first of its kind in NYC. In wake of the police murder of Mike Brown, she co-founded Muslims for Ferguson to build solidarity amongst American Muslim communities and encourage work against police brutality. She is a member of the Justice League NYC, a leading NYC force of activists, formerly incarcerated individuals, and artists working to reform the New York Police Department and the criminal justice system.
Co-Managing Director, Fund for Democratic Communities
Ed Whitfield is Co-Founder and Co-Managing director of the Fund for Democratic Communities. He is a long time social justice, anti - war and community activist. Ed attended Cornell University where he became the leader of the Black student organization. He left Cornell in 1970 to teach at Malcolm X Liberation University in Greensboro. Following the closing of the school he remained in North Carolina as a labor and community organizer. Ed lectures on issues of Community Economic Development, cooperatives, education and racism. He helped to create the Southern Grassroots Economies Project and is now working on developing the Southern Reparations Loan Fund to help finance sustainable, democratically owned and controlled businesses in communities that do not attract capital due to racist and extractive banking and investment practices. Ed currently serves on the Board of Directors for Highlander Research and Education Center, New Economy Coalition and The Working World.
We’re so often between two worlds when we are struggling to be the people we need to be to heal the world.
More than the answers, in this piece, I heard the questions that I struggle with, said in an honest way.
I remember when we shut down the I-95; that day is forever stained in my memory. Now this piece is attached.
Be For all intents and purposes, FREEDOM…
By Loba Rodriguez Calderon (a.k.a. Arely Lozano-Baugh)
Freedom maintains that being, living, and choice must be
Revered above all else. And also, protected. That
Every group should be cherished for our inherent
Divinity. For we are all the
Origin of our existence and of our future. We are one in nature and spirit. Connected. Freedom is to
Move: back, forward, and beyond. Moving we have gotten here, and thus we continue. Building our
Independence. Yesterday, today and tomorrow. Individuals and groups in a quest for
Sovereignty, self-determination, and community. A generation like others before. Fighting
Together. And through time, maintaining our purpose… To
Overthrow the limits and regulations that
Belittle our existence, opportunities, capacities, possibilities and visions… We are
Every being. The Earth. Evolving. Learning from memories and histories…
Remembering that we are always becoming. Free to feel.
Elated in the rapture of our existence. Present. In
All our being. Thinking. Breathing… Questioning the parameters, meanings, and purposes of every dogma. Always
Learning, lamenting, laughing, longing, lusting, losing and listening. But above all,
Living and loving.
Yelling, at the top of our lungs, “We are Free! This is Our Freedom!”
Forever one in the unity of the Universe.
Radicals because we refuse to stop and cave in. Because we choose to
Elevate one another. To raise as one, lifting each other... Towards our Freedom--Of mind, believing and being.
Empowering all to be Free. Free from chains. Free from hate. Free from constraints.
… For all intents and purposes, Free to Love, Free to Live, Free to Be, Free to Dream.
What does it mean to be free?
Resistance and popular rebellion is on the rise in the U.S. but our movement also needs vision. We are growing increasingly aware of the things of this world that we do not wish to carry forward, but there is a lack of consensus on the world that we are collectively creating. In short, we talk about wanting to get free, but do we really know what that means?
We are opening up our blog for folks to contribute the way that THEY define FREEDOM.
Participants can contribute written blog pieces of any length, poetry, video, photographs, or artwork to express their personal vision of freedom as we color in our collective vision of the future. Remember, you don't have to plot out the entire revolution, just contribute something to help pollenate our collective imagination.
Ex: "FREEDOM is learning our real history in public schools"
Ex: "When we are Free, gender roles won't exist"
Please submit content via the form below, and encourage others in your network to contribute as well!