May 07

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 Fernandez

    Baruch College CUNY

    Dr. Johanna Fernández is a former Fulbright Scholar to Jordan in the Middle East and Assistant Professor of History at Baruch College of the City University of New York. She has written numerous articles on the activism, politics and gender dynamics of the Young Lords that have been published in field-defining anthologies of the sixties movements. Her Young Lords article in Freedom North: Black Freedom Struggles Outside of South and her article on Denise Oliver and the women of the Young Lords in Want to Start a Revolution: Radical Women in the Black Freedom Struggle are cited as ground breaking texts that have changed the way historians understand the civil rights and black power era.

    Her forthcoming book, When the World Was Their Stage: A History of the Young Lords Party, 1969–1976, will be published by Princeton University Press in 2016. Professor Fernández developed the exhibition project ¡Presente! The Young Lords in New York, alongside of Art Historian Yasmin Ramirez. The project, which has been reviewed by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and NPR is currently showing at the Bronx Museum, El Museo del Barrio and Loisada Center.

    Fernández is an activist scholar known for her work in the movement to Free Mumia. She is editor of Writing on the Wall: Selected Prison Writings of Mumia Abu-Jamal. With Mumia Abu-Jamal she is co-editor of 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. She is the writer and producer of the film, Justice on Trial: the Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal.

    Johanna Fernández received her Ph.D. in United States History at Columbia University under the direction of the late Manning Marable.

  • Paul Ortiz

    University 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 Theoharis

    Poor 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.


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