Plenaries & Featured Speakers

Sally Bermanzohn

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Sally Bermanzohn, a life-long activist, is a student of indigenous ways and Native American history.  She is Professor Emerita from Brooklyn College CUNY, and author of Through Survivors Eyes (about the 1979 Greensboro Massacre of anti-KKK organizers), and co-author of Violence and Politics: Globalization's Paradox. Her new book is Indian Annie: A Grandmother's Story.

Pastor Cori Bush

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Born and raised in Missouri, Cori Bush has been a Ferguson Frontline organizer since the police murder of Michael Brown in 2014. A Pastor of Kingdom Embassy International, she is – with PJSA Board member David Ragland – the co-director of the Truth Telling Project, and a Nonviolence 365 Ambassador with the King Center. Herself the victim of police assault, she is a leader of the Ferguson Women’s Caucus, a radio talk show host, and a nurse. She ran an intense 2016 race for the Senate, and is recipient of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation’s 2015 Women of Courage award. For more information: http://thetruthtellingproject.org/about-us/pastorcori

Riane Eisler

                                                 

“ . . . it is evident that there is another logical alternative: that there can be societies in which difference is not necessarily equated with inferiority or superiority.”

 Riane Eisler was born in Vienna, fled from the Nazis with her parents to Cuba as a small child, and later immigrated to the United States. Eisler wears many “hats,” those of a cultural historian, systems scientist, educator, attorney, speaker, and author whose work on cultural transformation has inspired scholars and social activists. Her research has impacted many fields, including history, economics, psychology, sociology, education, and healthcare. She obtained degrees in sociology and law from UCLA, taught pioneering classes on women and the law at UCLA, and now teaches in the graduate Transformative Leadership Program at the California Institute of Integral Studies and at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) as a Research Associate in the Department of Anthropology. Eisler is Editor-in-Chief of the Interdisciplinary Journal of Partnership Studies and President of the Center for Partnership Studies, which is dedicated to research and education on the partnership model introduced by Eisler’s research. Eisler is the author of groundbreaking books such as The Chalice and the Blade, which has been published in 26 languages, and The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics. Eisler has received many honors, including honorary PhDs and peace and human rights awards. She lectures worldwide, with venues including the United Nations General Assembly, the U.S. Department of State, Congressional briefings, universities, corporations, conferences, and events hosted by Heads of State.

La Trina Jackson

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La Trina Jackson is a Georgia native who serves as the Fellowship of Reconciliation’s National Council Chair. A board member and Imam/community leader for her local mosque, Muslims for Progressive Values, Jackson served as a delegate of the inaugural Israel/Palestine African Heritage Delegation of Inter-faith Peace-builders. She teaches high school science in Atlanta, where her grassroots organizing includes human rights work in the US criminal justice system, local food security issues, connecting #Black Lives Matter with internationalist and US anti-imperialist issues, and many other concerns. A 2015 Atlanta LGBT Pride Parade Grand Marshall, Trina lives with her spouse on an urban farm raising food, goats, chickens, and bees.

Ynestra King

 Ynestra King is an ecofeminist writer, teacher, oral historian and activist.  She is a native of Selma, Alabama where she first observed the practice of nonviolent resistance, which was to become a lifelong preoccupation. She is an originator of ecofeminism and she is currently working on a book collection of her many publications in response to requests from climate activists around the US, and in Europe, India and the Middle East, as well as a memoir.  She cofounded Women and Life on Earth, and convened the first ever ecofeminist gathering in 1980, which organized the antimilitarist Women’s Pentagon Action, and contributed to the ecology and peace encampment movements of the 1980s and 1990s. Ynestra has taught at several colleges and universities including the New School and Columbia University. More recently, she has written about disability, and originated and directed an oral history project at Columbia University, interviewing people living with significant disabilities and physical trauma (“Listening With the Whole Body in Mind”). Her work continues to be concerned with feminism, climate change, embodied politics, community, and the practice of radical nonviolence.  She continues to be affiliated with the Institute for Social Ecology, where she has taught for many years.  She is active in Writers Resist and the Board of the A. J. Muste Foundation and strives to live a life of radical amazement.

Matt Meyer

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Matt Meyer, a native New York City-based organizer, author, and educator, is the International Peace Research Association’s United Nations representative and an executive council member of that body; he serves as War Resisters International Africa Support Network Coordinator. Affiliated with both the University of Massachusetts/Amherst Resistance Studies Initiative and Durban's University of KwaZulu-Natal, South African Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in commenting on Guns and Gandhi in Africa (Meyer’s first book co-authored with Pan-African pacifist Bill Sutherland), wrote that "Sutherland and Meyer have looked beyond the short-term strategies and tactics which too often divide progressive people . . . They have begun to develop a language which looks at the roots of our humanness." Recently retired after thirty years of service to the NYC Department of Education, Meyer’s work as a classroom-based peace history teacher, district-wide multicultural coordinator, and professor of education earned him many city and state awards and citations; he co-edited We Have Not Been Moved: Resisting Racism and Militarism in 21st Century America, which Dr. Maya Angelou to noted was “so needed” for its “investigation of the moral issues of our time.” Meyer is also co-editor of the recently-released Look for Me in the Whirlwind: From the Panther 21 to 21st Century Revolutions (PM Press, 2017).

Nelson O. Reiyia

 Oldarpoi Mara Camp is owned by the local Maasai community and has been set up to create a sustainable future for economic and social development and empowerment. The income through the Oldarpoi Mara Camp funds many projects in the Maasai community. Nelson Ole Reiyia, son of Maasai nomads, is the creative initiator of the camp – but his visionary passion for his culture, people and community go much further. He holds a BA from Kenya Methodist University and certificates from the United Nations University for Peace. He started a program called the “I See Maasai Development Initiative” (ISMDI) which focuses on bringing poor children into school and providing them with education and skills, and thus opening up opportunities for their future. Especially Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and early marriage are still a problem in the traditions of rural life, which the Initiative is fighting against with education and alternatives. The ISMDI sponsors the education of mainly young girls, creates jobs and employment opportunities in the village through sustainable tourism and has set up the infrastructure for clean water and health care for the whole community.

Ruby Sales

“What it means to be humans. We live in a very diverse world, and to talk about what it means to be humans, is to talk with a simultaneous tongue of universality and particularities. So as a black person to talk about what it means is to talk about my experience as an African American person, but also to talk about my experience that transcends being an African American to the universal experience.  So I think it — we’ve got to stop speaking about humanity as if it’s monolithic. We’ve got to wrap our consciousness around a world where people bring to the world vastly different histories and experiences, but at the same time, a world where we experience grief and love in some of the same ways. So how do we develop theologies that weave together the ‘I’ with the ‘We’ and the ‘We’ with the ‘I?’”

 Ruby Nell Sales was born in Jemison, Alabama and grew-up in Georgia attending  segregated school. In 1963, she enrolled in Tuskegee University, an all-black college in Alabama. The timing and location of her studies exposed her to the Civil Rights movement. While at Tuskegee University, Ruby participated in several solidarity movements, joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and took part in several African American voter drives.  An event that would change her life took place following her arrest for participating in a SNCC voting rights demonstration. Ms. Sales and a few friends walked to a convenience store where Deputy Tom Coleman threatened her with a shotgun. Jonathan Daniels, a seminary student and fellow SNCC activist, pushed her out of the line of fire and was shot dead by Coleman. This traumatic event compelled Sales to dedicate her life to the promotion of equality and human rights. Sales attended Episcopal Theological School (the same school Daniels had attended). She now works as an Episcopal theologian and social rights activist. Sales founded the nonprofit organization, SpiritHouse, which works to bring communities together across racial and gender divides.

Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou

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Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou—public intellectual, documentary filmmaker, theologian, author and organizer—was born in St. Louis, MO, raised in the rural Arkansas Delta, and is now considered one of the foremost religious leaders of his generation. He was a 2014 Visiting Scholar at Stanford University’s Martin Luther King Education and Research Institute at the time of Michael Brown Jr.’s killing, and traveled to Ferguson, becoming a central supporter of the Ferguson front-line resistance. Rev. Sekou is a founding national coordinator of Clergy and Laity Concerned about Iraq (CALC-I), and served on the National Political Hip Hop Convention Platform Committee. Based in New Orleans immediately following Hurricane Katrina, he founded the local Interfaith Worker Justice Center; in 2006, the Institute for Policy Studies appointed him their Associate Fellow in Religion and Justice. A leading Pastor for congregations in Boston and New York, Rev. Sekou received the Keeper of the Flame Award from the National Voting Rights Institute and Museum in Selma, AL. He has lectured widely, including at Princeton University, Harvard Divinity School, the University of Virginia, and the Sorbonne in Paris; he is a Professor at the Graduate Theological Urban Studies Program, Seminary Consortium of Urban Pastoral Education, Chicago, IL. Rev. Sekou is the author of two collections of essays: urbansouls (a meditation on working with at-risk youth, hip hop and religion); and Gods, Gays, and Guns: Essays on Religion and the Future of Democracy. Along with Jay-Marie Hill, Sekou penned and recorded The Revolution Has Come, a symphony of gospel, blues, soul, funk and freedom songs laced with sanctified blues and lyrics that range from religious to risqué; they toured under the auspices of Rev. Sekou & the Holy Ghost.

David Swanson

David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson's books include War is Never Just, War Is A Lie War No More, and When the World Outlawed War. In War is Never Just, Swanson builds a case that war simply cannot ever be justified. Swanson has been interviewed on CNN, PBS, C-Span, Democracy Now!, Free Speech TV, Fox, MSNBC, Link TV, RealNews.com, RT, Press TV, and on many other programs. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org and hosts Talk Nation Radio. Swanson has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for the last three years running. Swanson is on the National Committee of the War Resisters League, the advisory board of Nobel Peace Prize Watch, and the advisory board of Veterans for Peace.

Hakim Mohandas Amani Williams

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Dr. Hakim Mohandas Amani Williams is an assistant professor of Africana Studies and Education at Gettysburg College. He also teaches conflict resolution at Columbia University, from where he received his doctorate in international educational development and peace education. His research and consultancy centers around school violence, educational inequity, youth and community empowerment, and restorative circles.