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In honor of Black History Month, join us for a virtual discussion centered around the theme of Black activism in historical and contemporary perspective. How have previous generations of Black activists shaped activism today? What connections can we draw between Black activism at the local, national, and international level? Using famed Princeton resident Paul Robeson as one of several anchors to explore these questions and others, the conversation will consider past, present, and future trends of protest, resistance, and organization in the fight against racism. The program will feature Meena Jagannath, Rev. Lukata Mjumbe, and Shana L. Redmond in conversation with moderator Derecka Purnell. An audience Q&A will follow the speakers' conversation.
Meena Jagannath is Director of Global Programs at Movement Law Lab. Prior to coming to the Lab, Jagannath co-directed the Community Justice Project, Inc., a Miami-based movement lawyering organization supporting campaigns for racial justice and human rights. She is a movement lawyer with an extensive background in activism and international human rights, including work in Haiti and Guatemala. While in Miami, Jagannath used her legal skills to build the power of movements locally in South Florida around workers rights, housing, gentrification and police brutality. She has also brought to bear her international human rights expertise in delegations to the United Nations to elevate U.S.-based human rights issues like police accountability in Ferguson and Miami as well as Stand Your Ground laws to the international level. Jagannath received her J.D from the University of Washington School of Law, where she was a William H. Gates Public Service Law Scholar. She also holds a Master's degree in International Affairs (Human Rights) from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, and a B.A. in International Relations and Peace and Justice Studies from Tufts University.
The Reverend Lukata Mjumbe is the Pastor of the historic Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church of Princeton, NJ. Witherspoon Street’s longest serving Pastor was the Reverend William Drew Robeson and the father of Paul Robeson. Like father and son, Reverend Mjumbe is a deeply committed advocate and organizer, talented theater artist and respected scholar committed to the radical transformation and salvation of oppressed communities and marginalized people. He is a high honors Political Science graduate of Morehouse College and Princeton Theological Seminary in Religion & Society (M.Div., Th.M). He also serves as the Faith Policy Advisor to Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12).
Derecka Purnell is a lawyer, organizer, and author of "Becoming Abolitionists: Police, Protests, and the Pursuit of Freedom." She works to end police and prison violence by providing legal assistance, research, and training in grassroots organizations through an abolitionist framework. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Purnell co-created the COVID-19 Policing Project at the Community Resource Hub for Safety Accountability to track police arrests, harassment, citations and other enforcement through public health orders related to the pandemic. She received her JD from Harvard Law School, her BA from the University of Missouri- Kansas City, and studied public policy and economics at the University of California- Berkeley as a Public Policy and International Affairs Law Fellow. Her writing has been published widely, including in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Boston Review, Teen Vogue, and Harper's Bazaar. Purnell has lectured, studied, and strategized around social movements across the United States, The Netherlands, Belgium, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and Australia. She is currently a columnist at The Guardian, a Margaret Burroughs Fellow for the Social Justice Initiative’s Portal Project at the University of Illinois-Chicago, and a Scholar-in-Residence at Columbia Law School.
Shana L. Redmond, Ph.D. (she/her), is a scholar and continuing student of the Black Radical Tradition. She is the author of "Anthem: Social Movements and the Sound of Solidarity in the African Diaspora" (2014) and "Everything Man: The Form and Function of Paul Robeson" (2020), which, among other accolades, received a 2021 American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. She is President-Elect of the American Studies Association and Professor of English and Comparative Literature and the Center for the Study of Ethnicity & Race at Columbia University.
This program is presented in partnership with the Pace Center for Civic Engagement at Princeton University and the Paul Robeson House of Princeton and made possible with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this programming do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.