The Poor People's Campaign, the Young Lords, and Black, Brown, Yellow, White, and Red Organizing
Struggles of indigenous people, Latinx people, and others have often been intertwined with Black radical organizing. Join historians and activists Johanna Fernandez, Paul Ortiz, and Liz Theoharis for this important conversation about how organizations like the Poor People's Campaign and Young Lords Party faced the challenges and possibilities of building genuine solidarity.
Johanna FernandezBaruch College CUNY
Johanna Fernandez teaches 20th Century US history and the history of social movements in the Department of History at Baruch College, CUNY. Her book The Young Lords: A Radical History was published in February 2020. In 2015, she directed and co-curated, ¡Presente! The Young Lords in New York an exhibition in three NYC museums cited by the New York Times as one of the year’s Top 10, Best in Art. In 2014, Dr. Fernández sued the NYPD for its failure to honor her research-driven, Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request. Her suit led to the recovery of the “lost” Handschu files, the largest repository of police surveillance documents in the country, namely over one million surveillance files of New Yorkers compiled by the NYPD between 1954-1972, including those of Malcolm X.
Professor Fernández is the editor of Writing on the Wall: Selected Prison Writings of Mumia Abu-Jamal. With Mumia Abu-Jamal she co-edited a special issue of the journal Socialism and Democracy, titled The Roots of Mass Incarceration in the US: Locking Up Black Dissidents and Punishing the Poor. Her awards include the Fulbright Scholars grant to the Middle East and North Africa and a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship of the Scholars-in-Residence program at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture of the New York Public Library. She is the writer and producer of the film, Justice on Trial: the Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Fernández is the recipient of a B.A. in Literature and American Civilization from Brown University and a Ph.D. in U.S. History from Columbia University.
Paul OrtizUniversity of Florida
Professor Paul Ortiz (PhD Duke University, 2000) is the author of An African American and Latinx History of the United States, which received the 2018 PEN Oakland-Josephine Miles Award for Literary Excellence. His book Emancipation Betrayed: The Hidden History of Black Organizing and White Violence in Florida from Reconstruction to the Bloody Election of 1920 was awarded the Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore Book Prize from the Florida Historical Society and the Florida Institute of Technology. He also co-edited and conducted oral history interviews for the book, Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Tell About Life in the Jim Crow South.
He teaches undergraduate courses and supervises graduate fields in African American history, Latinx history, comparative ethnic studies, U.S. South, labor, social movement theory, oral history and field work methodologies among other topics.
Ortiz is currently working on three books: Settler Colonialism and the ‘War on Terror’: 1492 to the Present, which will be published by Beacon Press. He is co-editing a book with Wesley Hogan of Duke University titled Changing the System Now: People Power, History, and Organizing in the 21stCentury, which includes contributions by William Greider, Lane Windham, Ernie Cortes and other activist intellectuals. He is currently finishing a synthesis of the segregated South with William H. Chafe titled: Behind the Veil: African Americans in the Age of Segregation, 1895-1965.
Reverend Liz TheoharisPoor People's Campaign
The Reverend Dr. Liz Theoharis is Co-Chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival with the Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II that organized the largest and most expansive wave of nonviolent civil disobedience in US history. She is the Director of the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary. She has spent over the past two decades organizing amongst the poor in the United States, working with and advising grassroots organizations with significant victories including the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, the Vermont Workers Center, Domestic Workers United, the National Union of the Homeless and the Kensington Welfare Rights Union.
Liz received her BA in Urban Studies from the University of Pennsylvania, her Masters of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary in 2004 where she was the first William Sloane Coffin Scholar, and her PhD from Union Theological Seminary in New Testament and Christian Origins. She has been published in Time Magazine, The Guardian, Sojourners, The Nation, The Christian Century, among other outlets.
Liz is the author of Always with Us?: What Jesus Really Said about the Poor. She is co-author of Revive Us Again: Vision and Action in Moral Organizing. Liz is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and teaches at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.