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Howard University Hosts National Conference “From Protest to Policy: The Pursuit of Racial Justice” on October 14-16

WASHINGTON – For over 150 years, Howard University has been at the forefront of driving systemic change that impacts Black communities nationwide. With core values of excellence, leadership, service, and truth, Howard boasts a legacy of research, scholarship, and community engagement that provides solutions to contemporary problems. As part of Howard’s 2020 Homecoming festivities based on the theme “Advocacy,” a virtual conference will be held from Wednesday, October 14 to Friday, October 16, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. titled, “From Protest to Policy: The Pursuit of Racial Justice.” The national conference, which  is an expansion of the annual HU Ideas Festival, furthers Howard’s legacy at a pivotal contemporary moment in the history of the United States and the global African diaspora.

“The conference’s theme, “From Protest to Policy: The Pursuit of Racial Justice,” encapsulates all that this moment needs—an awareness of the conditions that created the need for protest, the determination to use the moment to make systemic shifts in public policy, and the ethic of resistance that demands racial justice,” says Dana A.  Williams, Ph.D., interim dean of the Graduate School at Howard University.

William says at a time when marginalized communities in the U.S. are confronting head-on the triple crises of the COVID-19 pandemic (along with the social inequities it has exacerbated), the endurance of white supremacist ideology and racialized violence, and the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, Howard aims to rally faculty, students, alumni, and community partners to interrogate these crises and develop policy solutions that lead to long-term social change.

Through a combination of featured speakers, panel presentations, and discussion forums, the conference aims to contribute to these efforts for social change by facilitating purposeful, meaningful conversations that contextualize and (re)frame our understanding of racial justice as it relates to politics and government, policing and criminality, health and wellness, education, technology, the economy, the arts, and the environment. 

The conference will amplify the important social and racial justice work that already happens every day at Howard University in classrooms, in laboratories and research centers, in libraries and archives, and in meetings (both formal and informal) of visionary, historically aware, and culturally conscious minds across the campus. In this moment of national social upheaval and unrest, we recognize an opportunity to develop creative policy solutions to challenges that disproportionately impact Black, indigenous, and Latinx communities. The conference promises to bring together thinkers from a variety of academic and professional backgrounds—humanists, political scientists, economists, environmentalists, historians, medical experts, social workers, community organizers, and many more—and to harness the tremendous potential of our collective knowledge and expertise.

The conference’s theme, “From Protest to Policy: The Pursuit of Racial Justice,” captures our vision for engaging current organizing efforts spearheaded by local and national groups, many of which have been invigorated by the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

“Advocacy is the cornerstone of truth and service and is embedded into our work in communities,” said President Wayne A. I. Frederick. “In our 153-year history, Bison have advocated for the African diaspora on issues including voting, civil rights, equal opportunity, women’s rights, climate change, education, the arts, and more. We are utilizing this year’s Homecoming to advance conversations and turn them into action that promise to yield important results.”

Check out the full schedule, special guests and more, below:


HU Ideas Symposium Presents...

From Protest to Policy: The Pursuit of Racial Justice

A Virtual National Conference

Wednesday, October 14 - Friday, October 16, 2020


Day 1: Wednesday, October 14


Session A (10-11:15 EST)

A1. Transforming the Lives of African Americans: Mental Health, Wellness, and Economic Power in Brown and Black Communities

This panel focuses on bridging the gap between health and economic injustice. Panelists will discuss the impact of social determinants of health, provide historical context for health and economic injustice, and suggest policy-driven solutions for healthcare and economic reform.

Confirmed Speakers                   

Shareefah Al Uqdah, Howard University                               

Jules Harrell, Howard University

William Spriggs, Howard University                                                                       


Watch here: https://howard.zoom.us/j/86906759743

Passcode: 20202020


A2. Community Organizing Before & After the Election

Campaign season is not the only time to seek change in our communities. Individuals and groups are often working year-round and between elections to improve conditions for Black people in America. This panel of organizers, activists, and scholars will describe their experiences with community organizing and provide suggestions for people to make change in their own communities.                             

Confirmed Speakers  

Karthik Balasubramanian, Howard University  

Sekou Franklin, Middle Tennessee State University                                                       

Angela Lang, BLOC 

Arisha Hatch, Color of Change

Nse Ufot, New Georgia Project

Roderick Smith, New Georgia Project


Watch here: https://howard.zoom.us/j/87207417727

Passcode: 20202020



A3. Art, Education, & Racial Justice                                                      

Artists, educators, and cultural workers have long been among those at the forefront of this country’s social and racial justice efforts. This panel will discuss the important roles of education and the arts in imagining and creating a more just future.

Confirmed Speakers

Elka Stevens, Howard University                           

Alison McNeil, McNeil Creative Enterprises                                                     

Stephany R. Spaulding, University of Colorado

Cori Bush


Watch here: https://howard.zoom.us/j/87184346054

Passcode: 20202020


Session B (11:30 – 12:45 EST)

B1. Howard on the Frontline of the Healthcare Crisis 

This panel will highlight the ways Howard University has addressed the COVID-19 Crisis. Panelists representing the Howard Initiative on Public Opinion, the College of Medicine, the College of Pharmacy, and Howard University Hospital will discuss research and practice that addresses COVID-19 within Black and Latinx communities.

Confirmed Speakers

Terri Adams, Howard University                                                           

Carla Williams, Howard University    

Tamara McCants, Howard University                   


Watch here: https://howard.zoom.us/j/86906759743

Passcode: 20202020


B2. Black Women, Suffrage, and the False Promise of Equality

Although Black women are winning election to high political offices and being recognized by political parties for their significant contributions to our democracy, they still face significant challenges in our political system and in their everyday lives. This panel of scholars and political leaders will discuss the highs and lows of political life for Black women in America.                             

Confirmed Speakers                        

Lisa Crooms-Robinson, Howard University                          

Keneshia Grant, Howard University                         

Pearl Ford Dowe, Emory University                            


Watch here: https://howard.zoom.us/j/87207417727

Passcode: 20202020



Session C (2:30-3:45 EST)

C1. Never More Urgent: A Preliminary Review of How the US is Leaving Behind Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous Communities     

This research report examines how well the United States, and US states in particular, serve communities of color by using the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a tool for evaluating performance. The results show that the five areas of greatest disparity are: Justice, Food and Housing Insecurity, Education, Economic Security, and Health.  This is the first known attempt to leverage the UNs Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to create accountability for racial inequality in the United States.          

Confirmed Speakers                        

Clarence Lusane, Howard University                        

Helen Bond, Howard University                               

Alainna Lynch, Sustainable Development Solutions Network


Watch here: https://howard.zoom.us/j/86906759743

Passcode: 20202020


C2. Promoting Environmental, Social, and Climate Justice at Howard University – Going Forward

Through a variety of paths and across a number of disciplines, Howard University is positioned to provide novel, integrative, interdisciplinary approaches that offer new ways to examine issues, identify causal factors, and suggest remedies [that] promote environmental, social and climatic justice. In this panel, a diverse group of activist Howard academics, including a philosopher, a biologist, a political scientist, a climate environmental scientist emeritus professor and an engineer will present the following short talks followed by a forum discussion.

Confirmed Speakers                      

John Tharakan, Howard University 

Charles Verharen, Howard University                                  

George Middendorf, Howard University                                    

Ronil Hira, Howard University

David Schwartzman, Howard University (retired)                           


Watch here: https://howard.zoom.us/j/87207417727

Passcode: 20202020


C3. Howard Students on the Front Lines of Racial Justice Policy                                         

This panel will showcase the work of Howard students who are currently researching and engaging policy issues related to racial justice.

Confirmed Speakers

Danae Bradley, Howard University

Jordan Lindsey, Howard University

Bethel Cole-Smith, Howard University

Marie Plaisime, Howard University


Watch here: https://howard.zoom.us/j/87184346054

Passcode: 20202020


Day 2: Thursday, October 15


Session D (10-11:30 EST)                        

D1. Howard and Protest Movements: From Civil Rights to Black Lives Matter                                            

Howard University has long played a central role in the protest movements that have championed the rights and interests of oppressed people both nationally and globally. This panel brings together Howard student activists and veteran leaders from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to discuss how activism can impact Black communities, particularly as a means of effecting systemic change.

Confirmed Speakers                      

Timothy Jenkins                                

Karen Spellman

Joyce Ladner

Thandiwe Abdullah                        


Watch here: https://howard.zoom.us/j/86906759743

Passcode: 20202020


D2. Economic Justice and COVID 19: Removing the Mask on Systemic Racism                

This panel will discuss the economic impact of Covid-19 in the Black community. Topics discussed will include environmental and health disparities, educational opportunity and access, employment and labor challenges, and entrepreneurial survival.

Confirmed Speakers                        

Thomas W. Mitchell, Texas A&M University                        

Keeshea Turner-Roberts, Howard University                       

Lisa Grillo, Howard University 

Andre Smith, Economic Justice Law Review

Bonita Coe

Lateef Mtima                


Watch here: https://howard.zoom.us/j/87207417727

Passcode: 20202020


D3. Criminal Justice Reform             

This panel brings together Howard university faculty members whose work directly relates to criminal justice reform. Panelists will discuss reform efforts and make suggestions for actionable criminal justice policy changes.

Confirmed Speakers                       

Justin Hansford, Howard University                         

Bahiyyah Muhammad, Howard University                          

Keesha Middlemass, Howard University                               


Watch here: https://howard.zoom.us/j/87184346054

Passcode: 20202020


Session E (12-1:30 EST)               

E1. The SDGs as a Contributor to Racial Justice and Reformation of Transformative Policies

The SDGs have identified five disparity areas that are crippling communities of color and indigenous peoples throughout the United States. In this interactive session, we’ll explore our individual roles as community allies in changing the tide of those disparities. We’ll explore the next steps in forming culturally beneficial policies and our collective power to advocate for those policies to become Federal and local law.


Confirmed Speakers

Jeffrey Sachs, Columbia University                         

Earl Hamilton, The National Center for Faith Based Initiatives                   

Carlton Waterhouse, Howard University                     


Watch here: https://howard.zoom.us/j/86906759743?pwd=Mkg3Rms0bnV6SzFqb2VXaEo0M2poUT09

Passcode: 20202020


E2. BLM and Policy Recommendations                                                  

This panel will discuss the Black Lives Matter movement as the most recent iteration of a lengthy genealogy wide-scale social justice efforts in the US. Panelists will emphasize specific policy recommendations related to the national BLM platform.

Confirmed Speakers                        

Ivory Toldson, Howard University                            

Christopher Emdin, Columbia University                             

Maurice Mitchell, Working Families Party               


Watch here: https://howard.zoom.us/j/87207417727

Passcode: 20202020


E3. Public Health Forum with President Frederick and Chelsea Clinton & Clinton Global Initiative University Alumni Panel  (2-3:30)                                 

This session features a conversation between President Frederick and Chelsea Clinton on public health matters related to COVID-19 and transitions to a panel of speakers who are Howard University alumni and alumni of the Clinton Global Initiative University.


Confirmed Speakers

Tah-Jai Sharpe                      

Jelicia Diggs      


Watch here:https://howard.zoom.us/j/87184346054

Passcode: 20202020


Session F (4-5:30 EST)                                                                                          

F1. Fighting Back Against Voter Suppression

There are sustained threats against the right to vote for Black people in America. This panel of scholars and leaders will discuss current attempts at voter suppression in American elections and make suggestions for citizens to implement as they go to the polls in the coming election.                                 

Confirmed Speakers                      

Michael Fauntroy, Howard University                                 

Elsie Scott, Howard University                                                                 

Wade J. Henderson, University of the District of Columbia (retired)

Darin Johnson, Howard University                                                 

Watch here:https://howard.zoom.us/j/86906759743

Passcode: 20202020


Day 3: Friday, October 16

Before the first session, be sure to watch Howard University President, Wayne A.I. Frederick, give the “State of the University Address” at 10-11 a.m. ET.


Session G (11:30-12:45 EST)                                          

G1. Socioeconomic Determinants of Health

This panel focuses on the way poverty and wealth impacts health. Panelists will discuss the impact of economic determinants of health, including mental health, and suggest policy-driven solutions for healthcare reform.                       


Confirmed Speakers                                                  

La'Marcus Wingate, Howard University                               

JaNeen Cross, Howard University                            

Melissa Weir, Howard University                                                     


Watch here: https://howard.zoom.us/j/86906759743

Passcode: 20202020


G2. Enfranchising Returning Citizens: Ending the Racial Caste System      


Confirmed Speakers                            

Roger Carruth, Howard University

Dr. Stanley Andrisse, Howard University                                                          

Harold Trulear, Howard University

Ravi Perry, Howard University


Watch here: https://howard.zoom.us/j/87207417727

Passcode: 20202020

G3. “Black Talk and the White Question": The Role of the Black University (Part I)                

Jacob Carruthers opens his seminal 1994 essay “Black Talk and the White Question” with a quote from E. Franklin Frazier’s 1962 essay “The Failure of the Negro Intellectual” that contends that African American academics have focused too much on questions of race as opposed to larger questions of culture, personality, and human destiny. Academic responses to the “Brionna Taylor/George Floyd Uprising” have seen calls for “anti-racism” trainings and K-12 and college curricula and courses, prompting white nationalist reactions against “Critical Race Theory.” HBCUs provide institutional formations best situated to engage in intra-group debate and dialogue around the broader subjects both Frazier and Carruthers envision as more important to global Black advancement. This two-part discussion convenes scholar activists from HBCUs and/or who have engaged in sustained work in building Black intellectual institutional formations to take up this essential question.

Confirmed Speakers                       

Melina Abdullah, California State University                       

Catherine Adams, Claflin University                         

Mario Beatty, Howard University                             

Claudrena Harold, University of Virginia                             

Nathaniel Norment, Morehouse College                              

Watch here: https://howard.zoom.us/j/87184346054

Passcode: 20202020


Session H (1-2:15 EST)                                                             

H1. "Black Talk and the White Question": The Role of the Black University (Part II)        

Confirmed Speakers                      

Samuel Livingston, Morehouse College                               

James Stewart, NCBS and ASALH                             

Akinyele Umoja, Georgia State University                           

Corey D. B. Walker, Wake Forest University                        

Valethia Watkins, Howard University             

Watch here: https://howard.zoom.us/j/86906759743

Passcode: 20202020