Criminal Justice in America

Criminal Justice in America

Session Type(s): Plenary

Starts: Saturday, Jun. 9 12:00 PM (Eastern)

Ends: Saturday, Jun. 9 1:15 PM (Eastern)

From Troy Davis to Trayvon Martin, Stop and Frisk to Stand Your Ground, our country’s current criminal justice policies are not only creating a culture of fear in our country, but a second social class. The systemic problems that exist are often borne of old-fashioned bigotry and prejudice. How can we educate others on the role that race plays in our current judicial system? How do we end the cycle of violence that plagues so much of urban America and promote uplifting alternatives to violence and incarceration? And how can the progressive community join with social and racial justice organizations to empower communities—and change a system that essentially undermines social movements and threatens progressive power?

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Rashad Robinson

Robinson Rashad

Rashad Robinson is the President of Color Of Change, the nation’s largest online racial justice organization. Driven by over one million members, Color Of Change builds power for Black people and Black communities, moving decision makers in corporations and government to create a more human and less hostile world for Black people and all people. Robinson helped Color Of Change lead winning campaigns forcing over 100 corporations to stop funding ALEC, frame and win net neutrality as a major civil rights issue, and force Pat Buchanan and Bill O’Reilly off the air. Successful Color Of Change strategies have been profiled in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Fast Company and The Hollywood Reporter, and on CNN, NPR, PBS and MSNBC. In 2015, Fast Company named Color Of Change the 6th Most Innovative Company in the world, and in 2016, the Stanford Social Innovation Review profiled Color Of Change. Robinson is the proud recipient of awards from organizations as varied as ADCOLOR, the United Church of Christ and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Foundation. He serves on the boards of Demos and the Hazen Foundation. He is a monthly columnist for The Guardian.

Other sessions: Whose Law Is It Anyway? ALEC's Influence on State Legislatures and What We Can Do About It

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Nicole Austin-Hillery


Nicole Austin-Hillery is the first Director and Counsel of The Brennan Center’s Washington, DC office. She oversees D.C. office operations, serves as the chief advocate for the Brennan Center on a host of justice and democracy issues and coordinates work with other civil rights, social justice and democracy organizations in D.C. She is also the organization’s chief liaison to Congress and the Administration. Her portfolio includes racial and criminal justice advocacy and reform, voting rights and felon enfranchisement. She has written opinion pieces and served as a contributing writer for several advocacy publications. She has also submitted testimony for Congressional hearings and has served as a speaker on a host of public interest advocacy issues. Previously, Ms. Austin-Hillery practiced as a civil rights litigator and formerly served as the George N. Lindsay Civil Rights Fellow at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

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Jakada Imani


Jakada joined the Ella Baker Center in 1999 and became Executive Director in 2007. Since taking over from the center’s founder Van Jones, Jakada has helped pass federal legislation (the Green Jobs Act), lead the organization in two successful state-wide ballot measure campaigns (No on Prop 6 in 2008 and No on Prop 23 in 2010), lunched the centers newest efforts, Soul of the City and Heal the Streets and grown the center’s budget, staff and board. Before becoming Executive Director, Jakada was a lead strategist and chief team member on some of Ella Baker Center’s most high profile campaigns, including serving as Campaign Director for Books Not Bars and Third Eye Movement, led the successful Stop the Super Jail Campaign, and served as the center’s Director of Programs.

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Jasiri X

Jasiri X

Jasiri X is the first independent hip-hop artist to be awarded an Honorary Doctorate, which he received from Chicago Theological Seminary in 2016. Still, he remains rooted in the Pittsburgh based organization he founded, 1Hood Media, which teaches youth of color how to analyze and create media for themselves. His critically acclaimed album Black Liberation Theology (2015) has been recognized as a soundtrack for today’s civil rights movement. He has performed his music from the Smithsonian to the Apollo Theater and has discussed his views on hip-hop, race, and politics at leading institutions across the nation, including Harvard University, the University of Chicago, NYU, Yale, and Stanford, among others. In 2017 he received the Nathan Cummings Foundation Fellowship to start the 1Hood Artivist Academy. Jasiri is also a recipient of the USA Cummings Fellowship in Music, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Artist as Activist Fellowship and the President’s Volunteer Service Award.

Other sessions: Video that Changes the Debate, Turn It Up: Using Hip-Hop to Mobilize in 2012

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