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Featured Speakers

Friday Plenary
Saturday Plenary

Welcome and Keynote Address: Angela Davis & Alicia Garza
Moderated by Barbara Ransby, NWSA President, Conference Co-Chair
Thursday, November 16, 2017 at 7 PM
Baltimore Convention Center, Ballrooms I-II
Angela Davis
Distinguished Professor Emerita of History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies, UC Santa Cruz

Angela Davis is an activist, writer, and Distinguished Professor Emerita of History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies at UC Santa Cruz. Her work as an educator – both at the university level and in the larger public sphere – has always emphasized the importance of building communities of struggle for economic, racial, and gender justice. She is the author of ten books, the most recent of which is entitled Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine and the Foundations of a Movement. Having helped to popularize the notion of a “prison industrial complex,” she now urges her audiences to think seriously about the future possibility of a world without prisons and to help forge a 21st century abolitionist movement.
Alicia Garza
Special Projects Director, National Domestic Workers Alliance
Co-Founder, #BlackLivesMatter
Alicia Garza is an organizer, writer, and freedom dreamer living and working in Oakland, CA.  She is the Special Projects Director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, the nation's leading voice for dignity and fairness for the millions of domestic workers in the United States, most of whom are women. She is also the co-creator of #BlackLivesMatter, a national organizing project focused on combatting anti-Black state sanctioned violence. She has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Root 100 2016 list of African American achievers and influencers between the ages of 25 and 45, 2016 Glamour Women of the Year Award, 2016 Marie Claire New Guard Award  and was featured in the Politico 50 guide to the thinkers, doers and visionaries transforming American politics in 2015.
Combahee Revisited, Movement for Black Lives & Current State of Black Feminist Organizing and Leadership: Intergenerational Conversation
Friday, November 17, 2017 at 12:30 PM
Baltimore Convention Center, Ballrooms I-II
Moderator: Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Spelman College

This intergenerational panel will bring together some of the original members of the Combahee River Collective, including CRC statement co-author, Barbara Smith, along with leaders of the Movement for Black Lives, and #Sayhername to talk about the history of Black feminist organizing and the impact of the Combahee River Collective statement on Black feminist praxis today.
Charlene A. Carruthers is a Black, queer feminist community organizer and writer with over 10 years of experience in racial justice, feminist and youth leadership development movement work. She currently serves as the national director of the Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100), an activist member-led organization of Black 18-35 year olds dedicated to creating justice and freedom for all Black people. Her work has been covered in several publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Reader, The Nation, Ebony and Essence Magazines. She has appeared on CNN, Democracy Now!, BBC and MSNBC. Charlene has also written for, Colorlines and the Boston Review. She was recently recognized as one of the top 10 most influential African Americans in The Root 100. Her inspirations include a range of Black women, including Ella Baker, Cathy Cohen, and Barbara Ransby. In her free time, Charlene loves to cook and believes the best way to learn about people is through their food.
Kimberlé Crenshaw, Professor of Law at UCLA and Columbia Law School, is a leading authority on Civil Rights, Black feminist legal theory, and race, racism and the law. She is the founding coordinator of the Critical Race Theory Workshop, and co-editor of the volume, Critical Race Theory: Key Documents That Shaped the Movement. Crenshaw’s groundbreaking work on “Intersectionality” has traveled globally and was influential in the drafting of the equality clause in the South African Constitution. Crenshaw is the co-founder and Executive Director of the African American Policy Forum, a gender and racial justice legal think tank, and the founder and Executive Director of the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies at Columbia Law School. She is a leading voice in calling for a gender-inclusive approach to racial justice interventions, having spearheaded the Why We Can’t Wait Campaign and co-authored Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced and Underprotectedand Say Her Name: Resisting Police Brutality Against Black Women.
Demita Frazier, is an unrepentant Black feminist, social justice activist, thought leader, writer and teacher. A founding member of the Combahee River Collective, she has worked, in coalition with many, on the issues of reproductive rights, domestic violence, the care and protection of endangered children, urban sustainability issues affecting food access in poor and working-class communities, and a host of other important issues. She has been a consistent advocate for the unequivocal freedom of Black women so that we can get on with the urgent business of freeing the world. Her current life goals include avid participation in the ongoing project of the dismantling of the myth of white supremacy, ending misogynoir and hetero-patriarchal hegemony, and undermining late stage capitalism, with the hope of joining with others in creating a democratic socialist society. A practicing unallied Buddhist, she is committed to practicing loving kindness as she walks through life. Passionate cook & & gardener, she would feed the world if she could.
Mary Hooks is a 35yr old, Black, lesbian, feminist, mother, organizer and co- director of SONG. Mary joined SONG as a member in 2009 and begin organizing with SONG in 2010. Mary’s commitment to Black liberation, which is encompasses the liberation of LGBTQ liberation, is rooted in her experiences growing up under the impacts of the War on Drugs. Her people are migrants of the Great Migration, factory workers, church folks, Black women, hustlers and addicts, dykes, studs, femmes, queens and all people fighting for the liberation of oppressed people. Southerners on New Ground is a political home for LGBTQ liberation across all lines of race, class, abilities, age, culture, gender, and sexuality in the South. We build, sustain, and connect a southern regional base of LGBTQ people in order to transform the region through strategic projects and campaigns developed in response to the current conditions in our communities. SONG builds this movement through leadership development, coalition and alliance building, intersectional analysis, and organizing.
Margo Okazawa-Rey is Professor at Fielding Graduate University and Professor Emerita at San Francisco State University. Her primary areas of research and activism are militarism, armed conflict, and violence against women, examined intersectionally, and she engages with women’s movement activists and scholars in East/Southeast Asia, West Africa, and Palestine. She serves on the boards of Du Re Bang (Uijongbu, So. Korea), PeaceWomen across the Globe (Bern Switzerland), and Highlander Center (New Market, TN). Among her latest publications are Critical Ethnic Studies and Gender Studies: Education for Justice, Transformation, and Progressive Social Change, in The Race Controversy in American Education (2015) and “A ‘Nation-ized’ Intersectional Analysis: The Politics of Transnational Campus Unity (2017, Spring). New Directions for Student Services. She was a founding member of the Combahee River Collective and her lifetime of teaching, activism, and scholarship has been deeply shaped by the Collective.
Barbara Smith is an author, activist, and independent scholar who has played a groundbreaking role in opening up a national cultural and political dialogue about the intersections of race, class, sexuality, and gender.  She has been politically active in many movements for social justice since the 1960's.  She was cofounder and publisher until 1995 of Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, the first national publisher in the U. S. for women of color.  She served two terms as a member of the Albany Common Council and is currently the Special Community Projects Coordinator for the City of Albany, helping to implement the Equity Agenda.  She is a regular panelist on WAMC Northeast Public Radio’s Round Table.
Global Context and National Connections
Saturday, November 18, 2017 at 3:15 PM
Baltimore Convention Center, Ballrooms I-II
Marsha Darling. Adelphi University

Transnational solidarity and anti-imperialism were core principles of the Combahee River Collective statement and are very much a part of the political practice of the Movement for Black Lives. This plenary will explore the character and challenges of transnational solidarities in the struggle for Palestinian autonomy, indigenous rights, immigrant rights, decolonial praxis and anti-police violence organizing.
Gina Dent (Ph.D., English & Comparative Literature, Columbia University) is Associate Professor of Feminist Studies, History of Consciousness, and Legal Studies at University of California, Santa Cruz.  She served previously as Director of the Institute for Advanced Feminist Research and as Principal Investigator for the UC Multicampus Research Group on Transnationalizing Justice.  She is the editor of Black Popular Culture ([1993] New York: The New Press, 1998) and author of articles on race, feminism, popular culture, and visual art. Her forthcoming book Anchored to the Real: Black Literature in the Wake of Anthropology (Duke University Press) is a study of the consequences—both disabling and productive—of social science’s role in translating black writers into American literature.  Her current project grows out of her work as an advocate for human rights and prison abolition—Prison as a Border and Other Essays, on popular culture and the conditions of knowledge.  She has offered courses in critical race studies and black feminisms in Brazil (Universidade Federal da Bahia), Colombia (Universidad Nacional de Colombia), and Sweden (Linköping University) and lectures widely on these and other subjects. In June 2011, she was a member of a delegation of indigenous and women of color feminists to Palestine and speaks often from that experience.  
Tara Houska (Couchiching First Nation) is a tribal attorney based in Washington, D.C., the National Campaigns Director of Honor the Earth, and a former advisor on Native American affairs to Bernie Sanders. She advocates at the local and federal levels on a wide range of issues impacting indigenous peoples, including social and environmental justice. She recently spent six months living and working in North Dakota fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline. She is a co-founder of Not Your Mascots, a non-profit committed to educating the public about the harms of stereotyping and promoting positive representation of Native peoples in the public sphere.
Chandra Talpade Mohanty is Distinguished Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and Dean’s Professor of the Humanities at Syracuse University.  Her work focuses on transnational feminist theory, anti-capitalist feminist praxis, anti-racist education, and the politics of knowledge.  She is author of Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity (2003) and co-editor of Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism (1991),   Feminist Genealogies, Colonial Legacies, Democratic Futures (1997),  Feminism and War: Confronting U.S. Imperialism, (2008), and The Sage Handbook on Identities (2010).  Ms. Mohanty is a steering committee member of the Municipal Services Project (, a transnational research and advocacy group focused on alternatives to privatization in the Global South, a founding member of the Democratizing Knowledge Collective ( at Syracuse University, and Coordinating Team member of the Future of Minority Studies Research Project  (   She was a member of the “Indigenous and Women of Color Solidarity delegation to Palestine” in June 2011.  
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor is author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, published by Haymarket Books in January 2016. The book surveys the historical and contemporary ravages of racism and persistent structural inequality, including mass incarceration, housing discrimination, police violence, and unemployment. Taylor is the recipient of the 2016 Cultural Freedom Especially Notable Book Award from the Lannan Foundation.
Taylor’s interests are broadly in the fields of race and public policy, Black politics and racial inequality in the United States.  She is Assistant Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University.  Taylor’s writing has been published in Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society, The Guardian, Los Angeles Times, Boston Review, The New Republic, AlJazeera America, Jacobin, In These Times, New Politics, The International Socialist Review and other publications. She is currently writing a book titled Race for Profit: Black Housing and the Urban Crisis in the 1970s, under contract with the University of North Carolina Press in their Justice, Power and Politics series.  Taylor received her PhD in African American Studies at Northwestern University in 2013 and is currently an Assistant Professor in African American Studies at Princeton University.