Tonight: Panel on Social Justice Activism @ Harvard Black Law Student Association

by Latoya Peterson

Here is the panel description for tonight:

Social Justice Activism: A Roundtable Discussion on New Strategies to Empower
Our Communities
(6:30 PM – 8:00 PM)

Generations of Black law students have had to grapple with issues of race and justice, and each generation has had their own perspective on the responsibilities and capabilities of the student community to affect broader issues of racial and social inequities. The Friday kickoff event will explore the opportunities that students have as leaders to empower themselves and others in addressing social and institutional disparities. Our panelists–including bloggers, professors, and community leaders–will lead a discussion on how the shape of social and political activism has changed over time, whether the new form of social engagement is effective, and ways that social movements can be inclusive of a variety of generations in their approaches to dealing with injustice.

Ms. Danielle Purifoy
A native of Durham, North Carolina, Danielle is a 2006 graduate of Vassar College. She is in her second year at Harvard Law School where she serves as co-chair of BLSA’s Social Justice Committee.

Dr. Michael P. Jeffries
Michael Jeffries is an Assistant Professor of American Studies at Wellesley College. His
research is devoted to the cultural sociology of race and ethnicity, hip-hop studies, and American popular culture. At Wellesley, Jeffries teaches classes in Race, Ethnicity, and Politics, Hip-Hop Studies, Sport and Society, and the campaign and cultural significance of President Barack Obama. Forthcoming publications include a book on how everyday listeners define hip-hop and interpret rap music, to be published by University of Chicago Press, and an article on representations of love in hip-hop performances, to appear in a special issue of Women and Language journal.

Professor Jeffries earned his Ph.D. at Harvard University, and his B.A. at Swarthmore College.

In addition to his work in the academy he has worked with two non-profit organizations; The Fund for an OPEN Society, and The Opportunity Agenda.

Prof. Randall Kennedy
Randall Kennedy is Michael R. Klein Professor at Harvard Law School where he teaches courses on contracts, criminal law, and the regulation of race relations. He was born in Columbia, South Carolina. For his education he attended St. Albans School, Princeton University, Oxford University, and Yale Law School. He served as a law clerk for Judge J. Skelly Wright of the United States Court of Appeals and for Justice Thurgood Marshall of the United States Supreme Court.

He is a member of the bar of the District of Columbia and the Supreme Court of the United States. Awarded the 1998 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award for Race, Crime, and the
Law, Mr. Kennedy writes for a wide range of scholarly and general interest publications. His most recent books are Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word (2002), Interracial
Intimacies: Sex, Marriage, Identity, and Adoption (2003), and Sellout (2007). A member of the American Law Institute, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American
Philosophical Association, Mr. Kennedy is also a Charter Trustee of Princeton University.

Ms. Latoya Peterson

A certified media junkie, Latoya Peterson provides a hip-hop feminist and anti-racist view on pop culture with a special focus on video games, anime, American comics, manga, magazines,
film, television, and music. Skilled in interviewing, creative non-fiction, and editorial content, she spends her time editing the blog – the intersection of race and pop culture.

She was contributor to and has written for Vibe, The American Prospect, The Atlantic Blog, Bitch Magazine, Clutch Magazine, the Women’s Review of Books, Slate’s Double
X, The Poynter Institute, The Root and the Guardian. Her essay, “The Not Rape Epidemic” was published in the anthology Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape (Seal Press, 2008).

As a digital media consultant, Latoya Peterson has worked with brands like NPR and Wikipedia to improve the user experience and provide key qualities like blogging voice and reader connection to help humanize larger brands on the web.

She is currently working on projects related to race, pop culture, and video games, and will speak for the third time at SXSW Interactive 2011 on issues of technology and social justice. She is a
Poynter Institute Sensemaking Fellow, and one of the inaugural Public Media Corps fellows.

State Rep. John W. Walker

John Winfred Walker was born in Hope, Arkansas where he attended Yerger High School until 1952. He graduated from Jack Yates High School in Houston, Texas in 1954. He was the first
African American undergraduate student admitted to the University of Texas after the Brown decision in 1954 but was not allowed to attend for racial reasons. In 1958, he graduated from Arkansas A M & N College in Pine Bluff, Arkansas with a degree in Sociology; in 1961 he received a Masters degree from New York University; and in 1964 he received a law degree from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Walker’s first work was as an attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in New York. He has remained associated as a cooperating attorney and later as a member of the Board of LDF.

In 1965, Walker began the general practice of law in Little Rock, Arkansas with the emphasis on civil rights. In 1968, he opened one of the first three racially integrated law firms in the south,
first known as Walker and Chachkin. Between 1965 and now, Walker has personally been involved in most of the reported cases which involve racial discrimination in the state of Arkansas. Many of them are landmark having created new law and opened doors to school houses and work places throughout the state of Arkansas and surrounding states. One case has continued to take his time since 1965, the Little Rock school case started by the late Wiley Branton and LDF general counsel/later Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Many of Walker’s early cases involved classes of people discriminated against due to their race in mega corporate environments. A recent case of Walker’s was the only nationwide racial discrimination case ever successfully prosecuted against Wal-Mart. It involved a class of African American truck drivers.

Walker’s work has created many changes causing him to be honored and hated at the same time by public officials, corporate leaders and members of the legal profession. He has received national awards from the National Bar Association, the American Trial Lawyers Association, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and the American Civil Liberties Union. In 2004, he was awarded the designation as Southern Trial Lawyer of the Year with its War Horse award. Walker continues an active practice of law and is involved in the social, civic, religious and political activities of the state of Arkansas. This year he was elected to the Arkansas State Legislature on a pledge to “open doors and widen opportunities” for people left out and left behind in the struggle for racial, economic and social justice.

Walker has five children, thirteen grandchildren and three great grandchildren. He continues to practice law throughout Arkansas and surrounding states.

Ms. Yolanda Young

Yolanda Young is the founder of the website On Being a Black Lawyer ( The attorney is a graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center and Howard University.

 A frequent contributor to USA Today, she has also written for The Washington Post and Essence Magazine.

In 2003 Random House published her memoir, On Our Way to Beautiful, which received widespread critical praise. The author has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, NPR and Black Entertainment Television (BET). She has testified before the United States Congress regarding domestic violence and Head Start and addressed college audiences at Vassar College, Dillard University, and The National Association of Black Journalists. Currently, her award-winning television commentaries are seen on DCTV.

More details here.

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Racialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable Keanu Reeves John Cho newsflashes.

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