Why We’re Winning: How Black-Led Progressive Organizations are Changing the Face of Western PA Politics

Why We’re Winning: How Black-Led Progressive Organizations are Changing the Face of Western PA Politics

Session Type(s): Featured Panel

Starts: Thursday, Aug. 18 1:00 PM (Eastern)

Ends: Thursday, Aug. 18 2:15 PM (Eastern)

Room: 315/316

2021 was a difficult election cycle for Democrats nationally, but Pittsburgh made history by electing its first Black mayor in the city history. Also elected were 5 progressive judges, all women, and 3 African-Americans, to the Allegheny Court of Common Pleas. A large part of this success can be attributed to emerging Black-Led progressive organizations that have been collectively building power over the last few years in the wake of the movement for Black lives. With progressive Summer Lee poised to become the first Black women congressperson in Western PA history, hear how these organizers are challenging the establishment and winning.

Moderator

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: Off Campus: Winning Progressives’ Most Important Generation

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Panelists

Brandi Fisher

Brandi Fisher is the founder and president of the Alliance for Police Accountability(APA), an organization dedicated to criminal justice reconstruction founded in March 2010. Miss Fisher personifies love for community, is a strong voice for justice and teaches us how to be fearless in the face of opposition while never compromising principles to please others for self gain. In 2017, she spearheaded organizing the very diverse Woodland Hills School District who successfully ran a campaign to replace four school board members and the principal, as a result of students being abused by staff and school police. In 2018, as a result of the uproar in the community regarding the response to the Tree of Life shooting compared to the response to tragedies in the Black community, Ms. Fisher convened a group of leaders within the Jewish and Black communities to address the disparity with the Pittsburgh City administration. She also worked with PA Governor Wolf to successfully veto a bill that would have allowed the identity of officers involved in use of force incidents to be kept secret. She takes joy in bridging the gaps that exist between political officials, community members and institutions. Under her leadership, APA’s advocacy has resulted in financial awards of over $5.5 million dollars for individuals and families. Miss Fisher also assists in writing and introducing policies and legislation such as the decriminalization of marijuana in the city of Pittsburgh, to the most recent ballot initiatives to ban No knock warrants in the city of Pittsburgh and extremely restrict solitary confinement in the Allegheny County Jail. Both of these initiatives passed in the May 2021 election.

Other sessions: Public Safety vs. Policing: They are Not One and the Same!

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Robert Saleem Holbrook

robert.s.holbrook

Robert Saleem Holbrook is a Paralegal and Community Organizer for ALC. He is a co-founder of the Human Rights Coalition, an organization with chapters in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh that is composed of family members of prisoners and which advocates on behalf of the civil and human rights of prisoners. He also sit on the advisory boards of the Amistad Law Project and Youth Arts and Empowerment Project. He is also a member of 1Hood, a movement of socially conscious hip hop artists and community activists and started a prison chapter called 1Hood United to help mentor youth in Pennsylvania’s state prisons. He has a degree in paralegal studies and has written extensively on issues related to prison abuse, social injustice and juveniles charged and sentenced as adults. He was released from prison in 2018 after spending over two decades incarcerated for an offense he was convicted of as a child offender.