The News Beat Podcast is a short-form educational and political news podcast focused on social justice and civil liberties issues, that melds the worlds of journalism and music.
We elevate journalistic storytelling through interviews with experts, thought leaders, academics and activists, coupled with original verses from musicians and independent hip-hop artists to foster a deeper connection with listeners and deliver an alternative narrative on some of the most pressing issues, events and people shaping our world.
Morey Creative Studios, longtime publisher of the award-winning Long Island Press, launched News Beat to continue the mission of truth-telling and journalistic integrity that guided the Press for its nearly 15 years of publication. News Beat utilizes verse, beats, and audio to educate, inform, and inspire our readers and listeners—interacting with the public on a whole new level in the process.
News Beat combines all the facets of Morey Creative Studios—content production, inbound marketing and alternative news perspective—and embodies our ideals and our strengths as a company: collaboration, storytelling, alternative news, history and education.
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With News Beat, you’ll no longer simply read the news; you’ll hear it, and you’ll literally feel it. Most importantly, News Beat presents an alternative take to widely accepted narratives on its featured topics, arming listeners with important knowledge and insights that they likely wouldn’t hear from mainstream media—provoking thought, spurring questions, and challenging long-held beliefs. News Beat episodes clock in at roughly 20 minutes each—far less than the average podcast length of 35 minutes, and yet long enough to listen to in their entirety during the commute to work.
Think how “Schoolhouse Rock” broke down educational barriers by leveraging an original score in a televised cartoon format, and more recently, how “Hamilton” has brought history to life through hip-hop and theater.
The host and producer of News Beat is Michael “Manny Faces” Conforti, hip-hop journalist, DJ, producer and lecturer, founder of New York hip-hop publication Birthplace Magazine and hip-hop non-profit The Center for Hip-Hop Advocacy. News Beat’s Executive Producer is Morey Creative Studios President Jed Morey. Its editor in chief is Christopher Twarowski. Rashed Mian is News Beat’s managing editor.
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Jed Morey is the Executive Producer of News Beat and CEO of Morey Publishing, an Inbound Content Marketing agency based on Long Island. Morey began his career in broadcasting at WLIR-FM in New York, the heritage alternative rock station in the country. In 2002 he founded the Long Island Press, an alternative weekly publication that garnered more than 400 local and national awards over the next 15 years. Morey is also the author of a political book, The Great American Disconnect: Seven Fundamental Threats to our Democracy, which was published in 2013. The Long Island Press migrated to a strictly digital format in 2014 and was sold in 2017 and during his tenure as Publisher of the Press, Morey branched out and started the Inbound Marketing agency—a Gold HubSpot Partner Agency—where he continues as CEO today.
In 2016, Morey began working on what would become News Beat. Frustrated with the glut of misinformation in the corporate media and the race to the bottom of online news media, Morey constructed the framework for a different kind of news organization that melded his experience in broadcasting, investigative journalism and inbound marketing to attract a new and discerning audience hungry for a fresh perspective in an original format. He partnered with former Press Editor-In-Chief Christopher Twarowski, Civil Liberties editor Rashed Mian and Morey Publishing engineer Michael Conforti, a respected New York hip-hop journalist to bring this vision to life. The result is News Beat, an unconventional podcast and website that challenge conventional wisdom. News Beat infuses high quality journalism with hip-hop and rhythms to create a memorable and compelling narrative around pressing issues and events.
Morey is married to Eden White, a New York-based singer songwriter. They live in Glen Cove, NY and have two daughters.
News Beat Host & Producer
Michael Conforti, aka Manny Faces, is the host and producer of News Beat Podcast. He’s also an award-winning new media journalist and digital strategist with more than 15 years of experience in news publishing and online journalism, much of which was spent at Morey Publishing’s previously owned alternative news outlet, Long Island Press. Under his Manny Faces pseudonym, he is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Birthplace Magazine, a thriving online entertainment and lifestyle destination focusing on hip hop music and culture in the New York metropolitan area, creator and host of The NY Hip Hop Report, a popular, weekly, live video show/podcast. In late 2015, he founded The Center for Hip-Hop Advocacy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing public awareness of hip-hop’s important artistic and cultural contributions.
Editor in Chief
Christopher Twarowski is editor in chief of News Beat, and former editor in chief and chief of investigations of the alt-weekly Long Island Press. He holds an M.S. in Journalism with a specialization in investigative journalism from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and was an inaugural member of the school’s Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism. He also holds an M.A. from the school with a concentration in business and economics. Twarowski has written for the financial and metro desks of The Washington Post and has earned more than 150 local, state and national journalism awards and accolades. Follow him on Twitter at @investigations1.
Rashed Mian is the managing editor of News Beat. Mian previously covered civil liberties and the Muslim American community for Long Island Press. Mian graduated with a degree in journalism from Hofstra University. Mian is interested in under-reported stories that impact disenfranchised communities as well as issues related to civil liberties. You can find him on Twitter at @rashedmian.
A prolific recording and performing artist, Silent Knight has a reputation for being one of the hardest working artists in independent hip-hop. And it’s easy to see why. From being the frontman of The Band Called FUSE, to hosting and curating their Line Up showcase in NYC, to releasing almost a dozen albums independently in less than 10 years. Charismatic yet humble, SK’s genuineness comes across in his music and in his energetic and engaging stage show.
A seasoned performer, SK has captivated crowds on many world-renowned stages and opened for or collaborated with a wide array of acts. Some of these artists include Inspectah Deck of the Wu-Tang Clan, Nneka, Talib Kweli, 112, and members of The Roots. He has also worked with many notable producers including !llmind (Drake, J,Cole), Jake One (JAY Z), & M-Phazes (Eminem).
Silent Knight has been News Beat’s Artist in Residence since its launch in 2017, and following his passionate lyrical performance on “Exonerated & Broke“—our episode about the lack of universal compensation for those wrongly convicted of crimes and then cleared—was named an ‘Innocence Ambassador’ by the nonprofit Innocence Project, which strives to exonerate the wrongfully convicted through DNA testing and also advocates for criminal justice reform.
LiKWUiD is a New York-based hip hop fusion music artist, DJ, songwriter, educator, and one of News Beat’s 2018 Artists in Residence. Born Faybeo’n LaShanna A Mickens, she is committed to using her gift of song to empower the portrayal of women in the entertainment industry. She’s performed nationwide with artists such as Slick Rick, 9th Wonder, Matt and Kim, Lyfe Jennings, Jazmine Sullivan, Talib Kweli, Frankie Beverly and Maze, Bow Wow, Rah Digga, The Last Poets, DJ Evil Dee, and world-renowned comedian Cedric the Entertainer. LiKWUiD’s writing style often includes multiple entendres, extended metaphor and religious paradox. She is a member of the Hunger Division and often collaborates with Lower Eastside dynamic production duo 2Hungry Bros. Her current album, Fay Grim is now available via HiPNOTT Records.
Senior Research Fellow, The Policing Program
Leah G. Pope joined Vera Institute in 2016, and is a senior research fellow for the Policing Program. Her current work at Vera includes developing a policy brief on how criminal justice systems are thinking about and responding to the opiate epidemic, and implementing and evaluating a sentinel events review process at Rikers Island jail aimed at reducing incidents of suicide and self-harm. Prior to joining Vera, Leah was a research scientist at the Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, where she worked on a process and outcome evaluation of Parachute NYC, a citywide approach to providing a “soft landing” for people experiencing a psychiatric crisis.
Executive Director, Treatment Advocacy Center
John Snook serves as executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center, widely recognized as one of the most influential mental health advocacy organizations in existence today. More than half of all states have reformed mental health laws as a result of the Treatment Advocacy Center’s efforts, and its original research on issues such as the criminalization of mental illness has reshaped the national narrative on the treatment of severe mental illness. Snook brings the organization more than 15 years of policy and advocacy experience at both the federal and state levels. Prior to joining the Treatment Advocacy Center, John worked on policy issues at the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) and at Habitat for Humanity International.
Dr. Homer Venters
Senior Health and Justice Fellow, COCHS
Dr. Homer Venters
Homer Venters is a physician, epidemiologist and nationally recognized leader in health and human rights. As the Senior Health and Justice Fellow for Community Oriented Correctional Health Services (COCHS), Dr. Venters directs several initiatives regarding health and justice, including reducing traumatic brain injury among detainees and correctional staff, and promoting access to evidence-based addiction treatment for persons with justice involvement. Prior to joining COCHS, Dr. Venters served as the Director of Programs for Physicians for Human Rights and the Chief Medical Officer for the NYC Jail system. Venters is the author of the new book “Life and Death in Rikers Island.”
Napoleon Da Legend
Napoleon Da Legend
Napoleon Da Legend is a Paris-born, East African and Washington DC-raised, Brooklyn-based lyricist who evokes the bleak reality of the world today without losing hope for a better tomorrow. N.D.L.’s innovative short-film Wise Men, featuring the late great Sean Price, quickly became a cult hit among Hip-Hop heads with its overt challenge of the music industry establishment. His signature wordplay and voice rose from relative obscurity after the groundbreaking Oxygen record, featuring Wu-Tang Clan’s Raekwon. He has since been touring Europe and the United States. Known for his poignant social commentary and deeply introspective music, the release of his Steal This Mixtape series resulted in spots on “Sway in the Morning,” Fox 5 News DC, the Essence Festival, and Rocksteady 40th Anniversary Show In 2017, among many other media outlets, showcases and venues.
Danielle Sered launched and directs Common Justice, one of the few organizations offering alternatives to incarceration for people who commit serious violent crime and which has produced immensely promising results. Critically, Sered argues that the reckoning owed is not only on the part of those who have committed violence, but also by our nation’s overreliance on incarceration to produce safety—at great cost to communities, survivors, racial equity, and the very fabric of our democracy.
Vice Dean and Segal Family Professor of Regulatory Law and Policy
Rachel Barkow’s scholarship focuses on applying the lessons and theory of administrative and constitutional law to the administration of criminal justice. She has written more than 20 articles, is a co-author of one of the country’s leading criminal law casebooks, and is recognized as one of the country’s leading experts on criminal law and policy. Her book, Prisoners of Politics: Breaking the Cycle of Mass Incarceration (Harvard/Belknap 2019), demonstrates the ways in which our current criminal justice policies undermine public safety and explains how we can get better outcomes by relying less on a flawed political process and instead making institutional changes that allow data and evidence to guide our choices while respecting important constitutional limits. She received the NYU Distinguished Teaching Award in 2013 and the Law School’s Podell Distinguished Teaching Award in 2007. In June 2013, the Senate confirmed her as a member of the United States Sentencing Commission. She has been a member of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office Conviction Integrity Policy Advisory Panel since 2010. In 2015, she co-founded a clemency resource center that obtained sentencing commutations for 96 people as part of President Obama’s clemency initiative.
San Francisco District Attorney
Chesa Boudin is a public defender and candidate for district attorney in San Francisco. Boudin’s parents were arrested when he was 14 months old for driving the getaway car in a tragic robbery. His father is still in prison. Boudin knows first-hand the destructive impacts of mass incarceration.
Mia Bird is a research fellow in the areas of corrections and health and human services at the Public Policy Institute of California. She also serves on the faculty of the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. At PPIC, she co-leads a collaborative project between the California Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC), PPIC, and several partner counties, known as the BSCC–PPIC Multi-County Study. This data collection and evaluation effort is designed to estimate the effects of realignment on recidivism outcomes and identify best practices for recidivism reduction at the local level.
Abbie VanSickle covers criminal justice in California for The Marshall Project. She has worked as a reporter for the University of California, Berkeley Investigative Reporting Program, the Center for Investigative Reporting and the Tampa Bay Times. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. She is a graduate of the UC Berkeley School of Law and a lecturer at its Graduate School of Journalism. From 2011 to 2012, she was a Henry Luce Scholar in Cambodia, where she worked on behalf of survivors at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.
Mayor of Stockton, California
Upon taking office in January 2017, Michael Tubbs became both Stockton, California’s youngest mayor and the city’s first African-American mayor. He is also the youngest mayor in the history of the country representing a city with a population of over 100,000 residents, and his programs to combat poverty, gun violence, and other pressing issues, have received national coverage. Among these: Tubbs launched the nation’s first municipal level basic income pilot, the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration.
Campaign Strategies Director
Myaisha Hayes is the national organizer on criminal justice and technology at the Center for Media Justice, a nonprofit dedicated to “building a powerful movement for a more just and participatory media and digital world—with racial equity and human rights for all.” An outspoken activist with experience on various national and local campaigns—President Obama’s re-election, Fight for $15, and CloseRikers, among these—myaisha is the grandchild of a political prisoner, and deeply committed to organizing ‘People Power’ leading to radical, transformative change and justice.
James Kilgore is a writer, educator, and social justice activist who teaches and works at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and writes widely on issues of mass incarceration and the politics and history of Southern Africa. He is the project director for Challenging E-Carceration, part of the Center for Media Justice’s #NoDigitalPrisons campaign, which aims to change the conversation and policy concerning electronic monitoring and surveillance in the criminal legal system. James spent more than six years in prison, during which time he drafted four published novels. He is also the author of a primer on the prison-industrial-complex: Understanding Mass Incarceration: A People’s Guide to the Key Civil Rights Struggle of Our Time. When not writing, Kilgore works in his community to fight against jail building, and help open the doors of opportunity for people with felony convictions.
Data Privacy Counsel
Stephanie Lacambra is criminal defense staff attorney at Electronic Frontier Foundation, the leading nonprofit defending civil liberties in the digital world. founded in 1990, EFF champions user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development—working to ensure that rights and freedoms are enhanced and protected as our use of technology grows. A long-time indigent criminal defense trial attorney and immigration defense activist, prior to EFF, Stephanie worked as a deputy federal defender at the Federal Defender’s Office of San Diego, and also at the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office. She continues to speak truth to power by protecting your civil rights from government overreach as part of EFF’s civil liberties team.
The Band Called FUSE
The Band Called FUSE
The Band Called FUSE brings together street-philosopher MCs Silent Knight (Rawkus 50, 2016 Wake Up Show top artists list) and Soul Qloc, soul diva K. Desireé, Belgian rock brothers X and Toast and road veteran drummer Mr. Pokkett. Uniting the traditions of The Roots, Rage Against The Machine and The Fugees into a fresh new sound know as “Soul Rock,” they deliver an intoxicating mix of powerful lyrics, raw beats and driven jams perfected over hundreds of live shows.
The Band Called FUSE’s electrifying performance on our season one finale “Why We Riot” contributed to News Beat’s ‘Best Podcast’ win in the 2018 New York Press Club Journalism Awards, a competition including such national mainstream media outlets as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, New York Daily News, Reuters, and CBS News, among many others.
Ben Smith is the editor in chief of BuzzFeed News and former senior political writer for Politico. Before that, he was a columnist and blogger for the New York Daily News and started New York’s first political blog, The Politicker, for the New York Observer, as well as the political site, Room Eight, after working as city hall bureau chief for the New York Sun and as a stringer for The Wall Street Journal in Latvia. As BuzzFeed’s EIC, Smith built the digital media outlet’s newsroom and founded its investigative unit, among other seismic accomplishments.
Abby Martin is co-founder of Media Roots, a citizen journalism project that quote “reports the news from outside of party lines while providing a collaborative forum for conscious citizens, artists and activists to unite;” and host of the investigative documentary and interview series reporting on war and inequality, The Empire Files, which airs on teleSUR throughout Latin America and on Free Speech TV and The Real News Network in the United States, and was shut down due to U.S. government sanctions against Venezuela. Martin has since founded a GoFundMe campaign to continue its mission. She is also the former host of RT America’s “Breaking the Set,“ as well as a former correspondent.
Writer & Author
Shanita Hubbard is a passionate social justice advocate, journalist, consultant and speaker whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Essence, Fusion, Pitchfork, The Root, Griots Republic, and The Guardian, among other publications. She is an adjunct professor of criminal justice at Northampton Community College in Pennsylvania, and her speaking engagements have a addressed a wide range of social justice topics, including: the prison industrial complex; juvenile justice reform; the connection between media, politics, crime and society; media literacy and the quote-power of fake news; and hip hop and sociology, among these.
Journalist & Editor
Chris Faraone is an award-winning journalist, editor in chief of the altweekly DigBoston, and co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, which supports independent publications in various reportorial and organizational capacities, collaborates with partners on sustainable journalism and civic engagement initiatives, and aims to empower promising muckrakers with training and professional compensation. Its mission: to produce bold reporting on issues related to social justice, and cultivate writers and multimedia producers to assist in that role. In other words, Faraone and the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism strive to bolster and sustain fearless, independent, investigative social justice journalism, the most important type. Faraone is also an adjunct professor of communications at Salem State University, and the author of four books, 2012’s 99 Nights With the 99 Percent: Dispatches From the First Three Months of the Occupy Revolution, among these.
Margaret Sullivan is the media columnist for The Washington Post, the former New York Times public editor, and previously the chief editor of the Buffalo News. A graduate of Georgetown University and Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, she was a member of the Pulitzer Prize board from 2011 to 2012, and was twice elected as a director of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, where she led the First Amendment Committee. Sullivan has taught in the graduate schools of journalism at Columbia University and the City University of New York.
Author & Distinguished Professor of Political Science
Jeanne Theoharis is the author of numerous books and articles on the civil rights and Black Power movements, the politics of race and education, social welfare and civil rights in post-9/11 America. Her biography “The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks” won a 2014 NAACP Image Award, the Letitia Woods Brown Award from the Association of Black Women Historians, and was named one of the 25 Best Academic Titles of 2013 by Choice. Her newest book “A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History” won the 2018 Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize for Nonfiction. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, MSNBC, The Nation, The Atlantic, Slate, Salon, the Intercept, the Boston Review, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Public Programs Coordinator
Yolanda Jack is Public Programs coordinator at The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, which since its founding in 1965, has been a leading institution dedicated to the African American experience. Its mission: to open minds and change lives through the exploration and celebration of African American history and culture. Learn more about its inspiring vision, extraordinary exhibits, and more than 300 annual public events.
Osyris Antham is a Brooklyn-bred rapper from Flatbush. His first foray into the arts began with poetry and he slowly grew into the Hip-Hop world. After jumping into the New York underground scene at his first official rap contest in August 2013, Antham has won more than 30 competitions, including 17 victories at “Freestyle Mondays,” and becoming the first back-to-back “End of the Weak World Champion” for 2017 (Prague) & 2018 (Paris). He’s a fan first and has a great appreciation for the art and staying true to its roots. Antham also teaches Hip-Hop to middle school kids.
Abolitionist, Organizer & Educator
Mariame Kaba is an abolitionist, organizer, educator and the founder and director of nonprofit Project NIA, which among other goals, seeks to end youth incarceration. Among the other projects Kaba has been involved with: Chicago Freedom School, the Chicago Taskforce on Violence Against Girls and Young Women, the Chicago Alliance to Free Marissa Alexander, and the Rogers Park Young Women’s Action Team, or YWAT, including many others. She’s also served on numerous nonprofit boards. You can read Kaba’s work on criminal justice and prison abolition on her blog, Prison Culture.
Associate Professor of Religion
Joshua Dubler is an assistant professor of religion at University of Rochester. He is a critically engaged scholar whose teaching and writing takes place where American religious history and ethnography intersects with critical theory, and with the theory of religion. Among other topics he teaches classes on Religion in America, Islam in America, Theories of Religion, Guilt, Genealogy, and Pilgrimage. He is author of “Down in the Chapel: Religious Life in an American Prison” (FSG, 2013). With Andrea Sun-Mee Jones, he is the co-author of “Bang! Thud: World Spirit from a Texas School Book Depository” (Autraumaton, 2007). With Vincent Lloyd, he is currently writing a book entitled “Break Every Yoke: Religion, Power, and the End of Mass Incarceration,” which looks to marshal religious resources toward prison abolition. He is also working on a cultural history of the concept of guilt in America.
Victoria Law is a freelance journalist and editor, activist and author who frequently writes about the intersections between mass incarceration, gender, and resistance. Her articles have appeared in the Village Voice, The Nation, Gothamist, truthout, Bitchmedia, and Rewire News, among many other outlets. She is also the author of “Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women” and co-editor of “Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind: Concrete Ways to Support Families in Social Justice Movements and Communities,” both available on Amazon.
Kathy Morse is one of several former inmates featured in the award-winning documentary “Rikers: An American Jail,” by acclaimed journalist Bill Moyers. Morse spent 11 months at Rikers and served a four-year sentence in upstate New York, experiencing the horrors of sexual abuse behind bars. She is also one of the advocates leading the charge to close the Rose M. Singer Center, the all-female jail on Rikers Island, and end rape and sexual assaults there. Her group, Close Rosies, is comprised of current and formerly detained women who spent time there, along with other advocates and community members seeking to shutter the New York City Department of Corrections facility, for good.
Deputy Executive Directors at Just Detention International
Linda McFarlane, MSW, LCSW, is one of the Deputy Executive Directors at Just Detention International. A licensed social worker, McFarlane has more than 20 years of experience working with survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse. She leads JDI’s domestic training, technical assistance, and mental health programs. In this role, she trains corrections officials, medical and mental health practitioners, and direct service providers in preventing and responding to sexual violence behind bars. She also works with corrections agencies on implementing programs to make their facilities safer.
We are Rebel Diaz. Somos hermanos—RodStarz and G1—who grew up in Chicago and came up in The South Bronx. Somos hijos de political refugees from Chile who fled a CIA-funded dictatorship in the 1970s. Revolution raised us, and the culture of Hip-Hop provided us our own Nueva Cancion. We’ve been doing rebel rap since the Clinton era, sharing our story and those of our people; el barrio, the hood, the poor, los inmigrantes. Our bilingual sound has been shaped by pieces of South American folk, house, and Latin percussion gettin down with boom-bap breaks and 808s.Hip-Hop and a vision for liberation have taken us around the world. We’ve rocked stages in front of thousands at festivals, and in front of dozens in squat house living rooms. We learned about tomas in our international tours, then came back to The Bronx, took over an abandoned building and started a community center, The RDACBX. We’ve given lectures at Ivy League schools, but are college dropouts. We went from rapping about being ‘periodistas de la esquina’ to actually hosting a television news program on Telesur English. We’ve been blessed to open for the likes of Public Enemy, Calle 13, and Rage Against the Machine. The New York Times, Washington Post, and NPR among others, have featured our work and words. Educators across the world use our music and videos as learning tools. Today, we continue in la lucha with our families and in our community through our music and multimedia work.After successfully releasing and touring various mixtapes and 2013’s Radical Dilemma, we’ve been heavy back in the studio preparing for the 2018 release of América vs Amerikkka, un disco casi entero en español, with features from some of America Latina’s most impactful artists.
Dr. Jill Stein
Dr. Jill Stein
Jill Stein ran as the Green Party’s U.S. presidential candidate in 2012 and 2016, and its gubernatorial candidate for Massachusetts in 2002 and 2010. She is a mother, organizer, activist, physician, and pioneering environmental-health advocate. She has helped lead initiatives to fight environmental racism and injustice, to promote healthy communities, to strengthen local green economies and to revitalize democracy. She has helped win victories in campaign finance reform, racially-just redistricting, green jobs, and the cleanup of incinerators, coal plants, and toxic threats. She was a principal organizer for the Global Climate Convergence for People, Planet and Peace over Profit.
Pulitzer-Prize Winning Journalist
Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, an author, ordained Presbyterian minister, and a columnist for the progressive news site Truthdig. His latest book, “America: The Farewell Tour,” is one of a dozen he’s penned, including 2012’s New York Times best-seller “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt.” Hedges hosts a show on RT America called “On Contact,” in which he interviews intellectuals, journalists, and activists, among others. He’s spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans, and has reported from more than 50 countries. In 2012, Hedges successfully sued President Barack Obama over Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act, which overturned the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act along with its prohibitions against the military acting as a domestic police force. The decision was overturned on appeal by the Obama administration, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the ruling, known as Hedges v. Obama, in 2014.
Econimist, Professor & Co-Founder of Democracy At Work
Richard D. Wolff is an author, economist, Left Forum board member, co-founder and contributor at nonprofit Democracy at Work, and Professor of Economics Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst where he taught economics from 1973 to 2008. He hosts the weekly nationally syndicated radio program “Economic Update,” produced by Democracy at Work, and is currently a Visiting Professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University, New York City. Earlier he taught economics at Yale University (1967-1969) and at the City College of the City University of New York (1969-1973). In 1994, he was a Visiting Professor of Economics at the University of Paris (France), I (Sorbonne). Wolff was also a regular lecturer at the Brecht Forum in New York City.
Journlist & Activist
Glen Ford is an acclaimed journalist, political activist and the executive editor of Black Agenda Report, a member-supported, progressive online video news network. He is also co-host of the weekly radio magazine and podcast “Black Agenda Radio” with Nellie Bailey, broadcasting news, commentary and analysis from a Black Left perspective. Among many other titles and accolades, in 1977, he co-launched, produced and hosted ‘America’s Black Forum,’ the first nationally syndicated black news interview program on commercial television. In 1987, he launched ‘Rap It Up,’ the first nationally syndicated hip hop music show, broadcast on 65 radio stations.
Vice President & Chief of Campaigns, Color Of Change
Arisha Michelle Hatch is the vice president and chief of campaigns at Color Of Change, leading campaigns on civic engagement, voting rights, criminal justice, and corporate and media accountability.
Mark Haase is a progressive candidate for county attorney in Minnesota. Haase has spent the last decade-plus advocating for people returning to society after being incarcerated. He’s a former member of the U.S. Coast Guard and is the co-founder of Minnesota Second Chance Coalition. Haase is seeking to reform the criminal justice system in Hennepin County. Among his priorities: expanding diversion and juvenile restorative justice services, working to end the cash bail system, and decriminalizing marijuana.
Co Deputy Director, Dallas
Brianna Brown is deputy director of the Texas Organizing Project (TOP). Founded in 2010, TOP is a nonprofit promoting economic and social equality for low- to moderate-income African American and Latino communities through electoral organizing, with the goal of transforming Texas into a state where working people of color have the power and representation they deserve. Brianna joined TOP in 2013 and worked on Affordable Care Act enrollment, among other initiatives.
Steven Renderos is organizing director at nonprofit The Center for Media Justice. He holds more than seven years of community organizing and training experience, and more than 10 years of filmmaking and media production experience. Prior to joining the group’s Main Street Project, Renderos served as Project Coordinator of the Minnesotano Media Empowerment Project, an initiative focused on improving the quality and quantity of media coverage and representation of Latinos in Minnesota. He currently serves on the boards of Organizing Apprenticeship Project and La Asamblea de Derechos Civiles. Renderos (aka DJ Ren) also hosts a show called ‘Radio Pocho’ at a community radio station and spins at venues throughout New York City.
Mike German is a fellow with the nonprofit Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty and National Security Program, where his work focuses on law enforcement and intelligence oversight and reform. Prior to joining the Brennan Center, German served as the policy counsel for national security and privacy for the American Civil Liberties Union Washington Legislative Office. He also served as a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, where he specialized in domestic terrorism and covert operations, leaving in 2004 after reporting continuing deficiencies in agency counterterrorism operations to Congress.
Intikana [pronounced in-tee-kah-nah] is an international award winning emcee, poet, musician, educator, filmmaker, and executive producer from The Bronx. He has traveled the world touring his music, films, and workshops. Independently, Intikana has toured over 100 cities throughout 12 countries across four continents. He was selected to be a featured artist on VH1 and has appeared on Shade 45’s Sway In The Morning. His captivating performances have been quoted in The Daily News, Time Out NY, The Village Voice, Chicago’s La Voz, Australia’s Green Left Weekly, to name a few. Intikana has shared the stage with legends such as The Last Poets, Dead Prez, Styles P, Immortal Technique, Jay Electronica, Raekwon, Talib Kweli, Saul Williams, among others.Intikana is an End Of The Weak USA National MC Challenge Champion and his EP “Native Eyez” was nominated for three Native American Music Awards (“Best Music Video,” “Best Rap Recording” & “Best Historical / Linguistic Recording”). With nearly 20,000 combined followers & subscribers across his social media platforms, his music and films have totaled over .5 million views online. His collaboration “We R Da World” with Dinco D from Leaders of The New School was ranked #8 on Chuck D’s Top 10 Songs Of The Week for RapStation and #2 on his list of “Songs That Mean Something.”The Bronx Council On The Arts granted Intikana its BRIO (Bronx Recognizes Its Own) award for excellence in Performing Arts. He has been invited to perform and speak at hundreds of established venues, universities, colleges, high schools, elementary / middle schools, community centers, and prison facilities. As an art educator, Intikana has more than 13 years of experience teaching in the classroom. He has dedicated most of that time serving at-risk youth in group homes and public schools in New York City. Serving 10 years as an Urban Word NYC Youth Mentor, he has conducted annual training at New York University and University of Wisconsin – Madison for teachers seeking to engage with Hip-Hop in the classroom. As a roster artist and educator at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute for over two years, Intikana recorded four studio albums with Bronx youth in juvenile justice settings.
Organizer, Political Commentator & Journalist
Rosa Clemente is an organizer, political commentator and independent journalist. An Afro-Puerto Rican born and raised in the Bronx, NY she has dedicated her life to organizing, scholarship and activism. She is one of the most raw, honest, political, social, and cultural voices in the country. From Harvard to prisons, Rosa has spent her life dedicated to grassroots organizing and scholar activism. Throughout her scholarly career, Rosa has been a constant on-the-ground presence through the many political struggles facing people of color in the 21st century. She travels nationally as a public speaker, at colleges and universities, various organizations organizing and speaking to a wide range of communities. She was the first ever Afro-Latina women to run for Vice-President of the United States in 2008 on the Green Party ticket. She and her running mate, Cynthia McKinney, were to this date the only women of color ticket in American history.Rosa is the president and founder of Know Thy Self Productions, which has produced seven major community activism tours and consults on issues such as hip-hop feminism, media justice, voter engagement among youth of color, third-party politics, United States political prisoners and the right of Puerto Rico to become an independent nation free of United States colonial domination. She is a frequent guest on television, radio and online media, as her opinions on critical current events are widely sought after.Rosa is a leading scholar on the issues of Afro-Latinx identity. Her groundbreaking article, “Who is Black?” published in 2001, was the catalyst for many discussions regarding Blackness in the Latinx culture. As an activist with Black Lives Matter she has continued to address issues of Afro-Latinx Identity and anti-Blackness through her writings. As a co-founder and national coordinator of the first-ever National Hip-Hop Political Convention, Rosa helped bring together more than 3000 activists to create and implement a national political agenda for the Hip-Hop generation. She also co-founded the REACH Hip-Hop Coalition, a Hip-Hop generation-based media justice organization.
Writer & Film Director
Nelson Denis is a writer, film director, and former New York State Assemblyman. His award-winning films premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and screened throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico. His editorials for the New York Daily News and El Diario (more than 300 of them) won awards from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. He is the writer of eight feature-length screenplays, writer/director of the feature films Vote For Me! and Make America Great Again, and author of the book War Against All Puerto Ricans: Revolution and Terror in America’s Colony. He represented El Barrio/East Harlem in the New York State Assembly (1996-2000) and developed a leadership initiative with the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation. Denis recently completed the novel Island of Lost Spirits, and has a lifelong interest in the history, culture and folklore of Puerto Rico.
Journalist & Author
Ed Morales is a journalist and author who has written for The Nation, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and The Guardian, The Village Voice and author of Living in Spanglish (St. Martins), The Latin Beat (Basic Books), and Latinx: The New Force in American Politics and Culture (Verso Books). He is currently an adjunct professor and lecturer at Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race, and penning his next book, tentatively titled Fantasy Island: Colonialism, Exploitation and the Betrayal of Puerto Rico, and due out next fall on Nation Books.
Senior Legal Worker
Ibraham Qatabi is a senior legal worker at the Center for Constitutional Rights, where he helps coordinate a large network of pro bono counsel representing Guantánamo detainees and assists with attorney-client meetings at the prison. Mr. Qatabi also serves as a UN/U.S. advisor to the Nobel Peace Laureate Tawakkol Karman of Yemen, and was a lead advisor on the UN Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Prior to joining the Center for Constitutional Rights, he interned in the Terrorism/Counter-Terrorism section at Human Rights Watch in New York. He is a cum laude graduate of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York, where he earned a B.A. in international criminal justice with a certificate in dispute resolution and a minor in government. Mr. Qatabi is a frequent commentator on Yemeni affairs on various cable news networks, including Al Aljazeera, RT (Arabic and English), Aljazeera America, and Alhurra TV, among others. During the Arab Spring, Qatabi co-founded the Yemeni American Coalition for Change (YACC) to support change and the democracy movement in Yemen.
Dr. Debbie Almontaser
Educator & Community Leader
Dr. Debbie Almontaser
Dr. Debbie Almontaser is an internationally recognized, award-winning educator, speaker and authority on cross cultural understanding. She is an influential community leader and the Founder and CEO of Bridging Cultures Group, Inc. Almontaser was the founding and former principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy in Brooklyn, NY. A 25-year veteran of the NYC Public School System, she taught special education, inclusion, trained teachers in literacy, and served as a multicultural specialist and diversity advisor. Currently, she is the Board President of the Muslim Community Network. She frequently lectures, serves on panels, and facilitates teacher and public workshops on cultural diversity, conflict resolution, Arab Culture, Islam, Muslims in America, interfaith coalition building and youth leadership at schools, universities, libraries, museums, faith-based organizations, churches, synagogues, as well as national and international conferences. She is also the co-founder of the Yemeni Americans Merchant Association.
Mohammed Alobahy is a 27-year-old Yemeni American who emigrated to the United States in 2006. Alobahy, who lives and works in upstate New York, has been trying to bring his wife to the United States since February 2016—nine months prior to the presidential election. His wife’s visa was approved and then revoked a few months later because of President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban.
Desmond Meade is a formerly homeless returning citizen who overcame many obstacles to eventually become the current State Director for Florida Live Free Campaign, President of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC), Chair of Floridians for a Fair Democracy, Chair of the Florida Coalition on Black Civic Participation’s Black Men’s Roundtable, and a graduate of Florida International University College of Law. As President of the FRRC, which is recognized for its work on felon disfranchisement issues, Desmond has orchestrated the reorganization and incorporation of a coalition comprised of over 70 state and national organizations and individuals which includes, but not limited to the NAACP, ACLU, PICO, Florida League of Women Voters, A. Philip Randolph Institute, PICO Florida, and Florida Immigration Coalition. Desmond has also received many accolades, celebrating his hard work and dedication to leadership and commitment to social justice. He is presently leading efforts to restore civil rights to over 1.68 million Floridians, empower and civically re-engage local communities, and to reshape local, state, and national policies.
Manager of The Sentencing Project's Sentencing Program
Nicole D. Porter manages The Sentencing Project’s state and local advocacy efforts on sentencing reform, voting rights, and eliminating racial disparities in the criminal justice system. Her advocacy has supported criminal justice reforms in several states including Kentucky, Missouri, and California. Porter was named a “New Civil Rights Leader” by Essence Magazine in November 2014 for her work to eliminate mass incarceration.Since joining The Sentencing Project in 2009, Porter’s work has been cited in several major media outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, and National Public Radio. She has given a number of talks on state sentencing policy, collateral consequences, and racial disparity to various audiences including the League of Women Voters, NAACP, and the United Methodist Women’s Assembly.
Deputy director in the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice
Sean Morales-Doyle is deputy director of the Democracy Program at Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. His work is focused on voting rights and elections, including automatic voter registration, voter fraud, and voting rights restoration. Morales-Doyle is a seasoned litigator with experience in all manner of civil rights and constitutional matters, as well as a background in labor and employment law.
Youth Voice Amplifier
Eryn Wise is the Youth Voice Amplifier for Seeding Sovereignty. She comes from the Jicarilla Apache Nation and Laguna Pueblo people. She is the Youth Voice Amplifier for Seeding Sovereignty, working with our passionate young organizers to bring impactful change to indigenous communities across Turtle Island. In addition to her work within Seeding Sovereignty, she is the “Ina” or mother of sorts for the International Indigenous Youth Council, and has collaborated with Honor the Earth, Sacred Stone Camp, Seeding Sovereignty, and Indigenous Roots Cultural Arts Center to guide young organizers committed to movement work and defending the sacred.
William J. Brennan Fellow
Vera Eidelman is the William J. Brennan fellow with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project. Vera is a graduate of Stanford University and Yale Law School. During law school, she worked in Yale’s Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic, interned with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and was a member of Yale’s San Francisco Affirmative Litigation Project. Before joining SPT, she served as a law clerk to the Hon. Beth Labson Freeman, U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of California.
Alice Speri reports on justice, immigration, and civil rights for The Intercept. She is originally from Italy and lives in the Bronx. Her work has appeared in Al Jazeera America, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Christian Science Monitor, AFP, DNAinfo, Truthout, PassBlue, The Electronic Intifada, The Star-Ledger, and VICE News.
Former U.S. Senator
Fred Harris is a former U.S. Senator from Oklahoma, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of New Mexico, the last surviving member of the 1968 Kerner Commission, and co-editor of its latest update “Healing Our Divided Society: Investing in America Fifty Years After the Kerner Report.” He coined the political term “New Populism” in the ’70s to describe his platform, and authored two books on the subject, Now Is The Time (1971) and The New Populism (1973). He also served as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 1969 to 1970.
Founder & CEO
Dorothy Stoneman is the founder and former CEO of nonprofit YouthBuild—a worldwide movement and network of more than 260 locally controlled programs in the United States and more than 80 programs in 21 countries—and an author of a chapter within the 2018 report “Healing Our Divided Society: Investing in America Fifty Years After the Kerner Report.” Stoneman has a long and storied legacy within the civil rights movement and been involved with developing, expanding, analyzing and evaluating programs for low-income young people for about 50 years. Among other initiatives she’s either led or been a part of: Harlem Action Group, Head Start, and East Harlem Block Schools. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history and science from Harvard University, a master’s degree in early childhood education and a doctorate of humane letters from Bank Street College of Education, and has been recognized with many awards for her lifetime of work on behalf of the poor and disenfranchised.
Rev. Michael McBride
Rev. Michael McBride
Rev. Michael McBride is Director of Urban Strategies and the Live Free Campaign to end gun violence and mass incarceration with nonprofit PICO National Network. He is a graduate of Duke University’s Divinity School, holding a Master of Divinity with an emphasis in Ethics and Public Policy, and the founder and lead pastor of The Way Christian Center in West Berkeley, California. McBride was honored as the #9 ‘Top Clergy Leader to Watch in the U.S.’ by the Center for American Progress in 2013, and has served on a variety of local and national task forces with the White House and Department of Justice regarding gun violence prevention, boys and men of color, and police-community relationships. He is also a regular guest on MSNBC, CNN and Al-Jazeera programs, providing commentary for issues related to faith and racial justice.
National Field Director
Mishi Faruqee is the National Field Director of the nonprofit Youth First Initiative, where she provides technical assistance, training and strategy support to state-based campaigns. Previously, she worked as the juvenile justice policy strategist for the national ACLU and campaign director at the Washington State ACLU.
James Williams IV is the Juvenile Justice Field Organizer at New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. He worked previously for the United States Air Force’s Family Advocacy Program at Goodfellow Air Force Base and Kirtland Air Force Base. Prior to that, he worked primarily in higher education for Fayetteville State University, Troy University, Brown Mackie College and Park University. A frequent speaker at community events throughout the state, Williams has collaborated with police departments, military installations and community organizations on a wide variety of issues, including: Community Policing, Juvenile Justice and Police Procedures.
Hernan Carvente Martinez
National Youth Partnership Strategist
Hernan Carvente Martinez
Hernan Carvente Martinez is the National Youth Partnership Strategist for nonprofit Youth First Initiative. He manages the Youth First Youth Leaders Network, which provides young emerging leaders with the training and tools to lead the fight against youth incarceration. Previously, he served as a Program Analyst for the Center on Youth Justice at the Vera Institute of Justice, where he worked on policy analysis, program development, and elevated the voices and needs of youth and families in statewide policy reform.
Salvadoran Hip-Hop Artist
Cruz Kontrol, born Edwin V. Cruz, started his journey as a Bboy in his native El Salvador in the mid 1980s, but after having to immigrate to the United States because of the civil war of the 1990s, he lands in New York where he learns that Bboying (breakdancing) is just one element of the phenomenon known as Hip Hop. Since then, he becomes a student of the culture and begins learning about the elements, rap, Djing, Bboying, graffitty and the social impact of this art. Influenced by such artists as Run DMC, Public Enemy and KRS one, Cruz learns the importance of positive and strong messages that can be propagated by this new culture and the effects it has on the youth and society. As a founding member and leader of the Hip Hop group Reyes Del Bajo Mundo, the group credited with being the pioneers of the rap movement in their native El Salvador, Cruz has traveled throughout the United States and Central America bringing the message of positivity and progress using Hip Hop culture as a tool peace, creativity and entrepreneurship.
Raymond Bonner has been a foreign correspondent and investigative reporter for The New York Times, a staff writer at The New Yorker, and has written for The New York Review of Books. He has reported from more than a hundred countries. He is the author of four books, including “Weakness and Deceit: America and El Salvador’s Dirty War,” and the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including a shared Pulitzer, and the Louis M. Lyon award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism from the Nieman Fellows at Harvard.
Jose Miguel Cruz
Director of Research
Jose Miguel Cruz
Jose Miguel Cruz is the Director of Research at Florida International University’s Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center and Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs. He’s an expert in criminal violence, gangs, police, democratization and public opinion in Latin America. Cruz recently wrote a piece in The Washington Post, titled: “Trump is wrong about MS-13. His rhetoric will make it worse.”
Patrick Young is an immigration attorney, immigrant rights advocate, the Program Director at CARECEN—the Central American Refugee Center—and co-founder of the Long Island Civic Engagement Table. He has represented thousands of immigrants before the immigration courts, the INS, and the Department of Homeland Security. He was co-counsel on two successful Federal lawsuits and he wrote the winning brief in the United States Court of Appeals case that established the standard of eligibility for political asylum in New York. He is the co-author of the Master Exhibit on Human Rights in Peru published by the U.S. Department of Justice.
United Nations Special Rapporteur
Professor Philip Alston is the current United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights. The Special Rapporteur is an independent expert appointed by the Human Rights Council, charged with presenting research, conducting country visits, and informing respective governments whether alleged violations of human rights of people living in extreme poverty has taken place. Alston also teaches international law, international criminal law, and human rights at New York University, and is the John Norton Pomeroy Professor of Law at New York University School of Law.
Director of the Kairos Center and Co-Chair Poor People's Campaign
Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis is co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, co-director of the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice, and a founder and the coordinator of the Poverty Initiative. She has spent 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 United Workers Association, the National Union of the Homeless and the Kensington Welfare Rights Union.
Professor of History
Premilla Nadasen is a professor of history at Barnard College, Columbia University. She joined the Barnard faculty in 2013 and is affiliated with the American Studies and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies programs. She teaches, researches, and writes about race, gender, social policy, and organizing. Her most recent book, Household Workers Unite, examines how African American domestic workers in the U.S. strategically used storytelling to develop a political identity and through their organizing reshaped the landscape of labor organizing. She is co-founder of Scholars for Social Justice, a coalition of progressive professors that fights for justice for all people, especially the most vulnerable, and also author of the award-winning book Welfare Warriors: The Welfare Rights Movement in the United States.
John Kiriakou is a former CIA analyst who blew the whistle on the agency’s much-rumored, illegal torture program. He played a key role in the capture of the first alleged high-level al Qaeda operative following the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, and spent 30 months in prison after being convicted under the Espionage Act, a World War I-era law intended to prosecute spies. He is the co-author of 2009’s The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA’s War on Terror, a book detailing his service in the CIA, and author of 2017’s award-winning Doing Time Like A Spy: How the CIA Taught Me to Survive and Thrive in Prison.
Barrett Brown is an award-winning journalist and founder of the online anti-injustice civic ecosystem Pursuance Project, who spent four years in prison for crowd-sourcing an investigation into the U.S. cyber-industrial complex, known as Project PM, among other things. His work has appeared in Vice, Vanity Fair, The Guardian, The Intercept, Huffington Post, New York Press, Skeptic, The Daily Beast, al-Jazeera, and dozens of other outlets. Formerly a columnist at The Intercept, Brown received the 2016 National Magazine Award for columns and commentary.
Margaux Ewen is executive director at nonprofit Reporters Without Borders (RSF) North America and runs the U.S. activities for the organization and advocates for journalists, bloggers and media rights worldwide. Acting as RSF’s spokesperson in the U.S., Margaux regularly appears on American media (CNN, VOA, The Daily Show, etc.) and foreign media (BBC, Al Jazeera, France 24, etc.) on press freedom violation issues and the work of RSF.
Co-Founder & Executive Director
Trevor Timm is a co-founder and the executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. He is a journalist, activist, and lawyer who writes a weekly column for The Guardian on privacy, free speech, and national security. He has contributed to The Atlantic, Al Jazeera, Foreign Policy, Harvard Law and Policy Review, PBS MediaShift, and Politico.
Former U.S. Department of Defense Official
Mark Fallon is a former U.S. Department of Defense official and Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Special Agent. He was the lead investigator on the Criminal Investigation Task Force (CITF) at Guantanamo Bay Naval Camp in Cuba, which was charged with investigating terror suspects rendered to the camp following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, and is currently a national security consultant. Fallon documented much of his experience as one of the country’s preeminent experts on Guantanamo Bay and the United States’ illegal torture program in 2017’s “Unjustifiable Means: The Inside Story of How the CIA, Pentagon, and U.S. Government Conspired to Torture,” published by Regan Arts.
Senior Staff Attorney
Pardiss Kebriaei is a senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, where she works on challenging U.S. government abuses in the context of national security. She was lead counsel for CCR in Al-Aulaqi v. Panetta, which challenged the killings of three American citizens in U.S. drone strikes in Yemen, and Al-Aulaqi v. Obama, which challenged the authorization for the targeting of an American citizen added to secret government “kill lists.” She also represents current and former Guantanamo detainees.
Shelby Sullivan-Bennis is a staff attorney at Reprieve, an international human rights group. She currently represents two men detained indefinitely at Guantanamo Bay prison who have already been cleared for release, as well as victims of America’s “targeted killing” program.
Director of Government Affairs
Robert McCaw is the director of the Government Affairs Department at the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the largest Muslim civil rights group in the country.
Rabbi Darkside is an MC/DJ/Beatboxer. His movements aim to incite empathy and empowerment through social justice and creative freedom, seen and heard in his musical recordings, live shows and published writings. His prowess as a multi-elemental artist has led to 15 international tours, landed his latest album atop the CMJ Hip Hop charts and found him on MTV’s Made, Okayplayer, The New York Times, The Today Show, CBS Early Show, HipHopDX, 2DopeBoyz and The Village Voice.
Bryce Covert is an independent journalist writing about the economy. She is a contributing op-ed writer at The New York Times and also writes for The Nation and other outlets. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The New York Daily News, New York Magazine, The New Republic, Slate, and other publications, and she won a 2016 Exceptional Merit in Media Award from the National Women’s Political Caucus. She has appeared on ABC, CBS, MSNBC, and NPR, among other news programs.
Peter Goldberg is executive director of the nonprofit Brooklyn Community Bail Fund and has been with the group since its inception. In 2012, while at Cleary Gottlieb, he assisted pro bono in the Fund’s formation. In 2013, he became a member of the founding board. In order to pay bail for those who cannot afford it, Peter applied to become a licensed bail bond agent in 2014. He was thrilled to become the Fund’s first Executive Director in 2015. Peter previously worked at Cleary Gottlieb and Lawyers Alliance for New York, is a member of the NYC Bar Non-Profit Organizations Committee, and has counseled nonprofits on an array of legal issues. Peter lives in Brooklyn with his wife. He has a B.A. from the Johns Hopkins University and J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School.
Deputy Legal Director
Sam Brooke is the Deputy Legal Director of the Economic Justice Project at the nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center. Brooke and his team challenge public and private systems that trap people in poverty and punish them simply for being poor. Brooke previously served as a Soros Justice Fellow and worked in its Immigrant Justice Project for five years before joining the Economic Justice team. He previously clerked for the Honorable Joan B. Gottschall of the Northern District of Illinois and earned a law degree from the New York University School of Law, a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, and a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Sciences from Drake University.
Director of Bail Operations
Terrence Bogans is the director of bail operations at the nonprofit Brooklyn Community Bail Fund. He previously practiced as a public defender at Brooklyn Defender Services, representing indigent clients in criminal cases across the borough. His passion for advocating for those with underrepresented voices stems from both his personal experiences and educational background. Throughout law school, he focused on wrongful convictions, racial biases in arrest and sentencing decisions, and the over-policing of impoverished neighborhoods. Terrence was a member of his law school’s Youth Justice Clinic, served as the President of the Death Penalty Project, and also had the opportunity to work with the Bronx Defenders, Orange County Public Defender, and the Office of the Capital Defender (NC). He has a B.A. in Psychology and Sociology and a J.D., both from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Lawrence “Larry” Hamm is a lifelong activist and the chairman of the Newark, NJ-based People’s Organization for Progress. Hamm was 13 years old during the Newark Rebellion of 1967. At just 17, he became the youngest-ever member of the Newark Board of Education, and later led a movement at Princeton University that led to the college to divest from the South African economy during apartheid. In 2015, Hamm received the key to the city of Newark.
Rev. Roger C. Williams
Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Glen Cove
Rev. Roger C. Williams
Rev. Roger C. Williams is Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Glen Cove.Rev. Williams answered the call to serve as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Glen Cove, N.Y. in 1999. In 2007, he served as co-chair of the New York State “Enough is Enough Campaign” to demand corporate responsibility in the media, exposing and eradicating negative images in music videos. Rev. Williams serves currently as President of the Glen Cove Chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. Rev. Williams can be contacted via email at email@example.com and on Twitter at @FBCGlenCove.
Dr. Cornel West
Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard University
Dr. Cornel West
Dr. Cornel West is a prominent and provocative democratic intellectual. He is Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard University and holds the title of Professor Emeritus at Princeton University. He has also taught at Union Theological Seminary, Yale, Harvard, and the University of Paris. Cornel West graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard in three years and obtained his M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy at Princeton. West is a the author of more than a dozen books, including “Race Matters” and “Democracy Matters.”
Elizabeth Nix is an associate professor and chair of the Division of Legal, Ethical and Historical Studies at the University of Baltimore. In commemoration of the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s death, Nix and her UB colleagues, along with their students, created the Baltimore ’68 project. Along with oral histories and a driving tour, the project culminated in an anthology titled “Baltimore ’68: Riots and Rebirth in an American City,” which Nix co-authored.
Charles Kurzman is a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and co-director of the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations. He is author of The Missing Martyrs (2011), Democracy Denied, 1905-1915 (2008), and The Unthinkable Revolution in Iran (2004), and editor of the anthologies Liberal Islam (1998) and Modernist Islam, 1840-1940 (2002).
Journalist, News Host
Mehdi Hasan is an award-winning independent journalist, political commentator, broadcaster and author, currently the host of UpFront and Head to Head on Al Jazeera English in Washington, D.C., a columnist at The Intercept, contributing editor of New Statesman, and contributing writer at The Guardian. He’s an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, the author of two books, and a broadcasting veteran who’s worked for the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky News, among other outlets.
Sammy Rangel & Tony McAleer
Co-Founders of Anti-Hate Nonprofit
Sammy Rangel & Tony McAleer
Sammy Rangel and Tony McAleer are co-founders of the anti-hate nonprofit Life After Hate, which is dedicated to inspiring individuals to a place of compassion and forgiveness for everyone, including themselves, and counter the seeds of intolerance and racism. Rangel serves as the group’s executive director, and is also an author, social worker, peace activist, speaker, and trainer. McAleer currently serves as Life After Hate’s board chair and shares his practice of compassion as a presenter of its Kindness Not Weakness curriculum. Both are former white supremacists and right-wing extremists who now strive to inspire others away from hate to embrace life, love and hope.
Musician & Writer
Greg Tannen is a musician and writer. Born in Australia, raised in Toronto and New York, briefly a resident in Colorado, Ohio, and North Carolina, he’s the son of an amateur jazz pianist and the grandson of a magician. Greg’s music has been featured as a “New and Noteworthy” release on iTunes, played on renowned radio stations (WFUV, NPR, Acoustic Cafe), won international songwriting awards, and can be heard on national TV and in award-winning films. He also writes songs with other artists (Amanda Brown, the Weepies, Amanda Brecker) and has shared the stage with musical greats such as Rosanne Cash and John Hammond. Purchase the original song he crafted for this episode, titled “The Great War,” HERE.
Former U.S. Army Captain
Nathan Smith is a former U.S. Army Captain who was based in Kuwait as part of counter-ISIS mission “Operation Inherent Resolve.” Smith in 2016 sued the Obama administration for what he believed was an unconstitutional war against ISIS because Congress had yet to declare war or on the terror group. Smith comes from a three-generation military family.
Attorney & Analyst
Elizabeth Beavers is nonprofit Indivisible’s Foreign Policy Manager. Previously, Elizabeth was a Senior Campaigner for the U.S. section of Amnesty International, focusing on national security and human rights issues. She also advocated for anti-militarism and pro-civil liberties policies at the Friends Committee on National Legislation, a Quaker lobby in the public interest.
Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast “Unauthorized Disclosure.” Gosztola was among a handful of journalists providing day-to-day coverage of Chelsea Manning’s court martial in the summer of 2013, then as a reporter for the website Firedoglake.
In 1984, Alan Newton, of Brooklyn, was arrested for a crime he did not commit, and ultimately convicted. He spent 21 years in prison for rape, robbery, and assault before being exonerated on DNA evidence. Newton maintained his innocence throughout, and had spent a decade of his incarceration, beginning in 1994, petitioning for exoneration on the basis of DNA evidence. He currently counsels fellow exonerees and advocates for state statutes compensating others who’ve spent time in prison for crimes they did not commit.
Rebecca Brown joined the Innocence Project in 2005 and directs its federal and state policy agenda, which seeks to prevent and reveal wrongful convictions and assure compensation for the wrongfully convicted upon release from prison. She has also served as a Policy Analyst for the Mayor’s Office in New York City and a Senior Planner at Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services (CASES), where she conducted research, evaluation and planning work around its alternative to incarceration programs.
Staff Writer & Senior Research Fellow
Emily Bazelon is a staff writer at the New York Times Magazine and the Truman Capote Fellow for Creative Writing and Law at Yale Law School. Before joining the Times Magazine, Bazelon was a writer and editor for nine years at Slate, where she co-founded the women’s section DoubleX. She continues to co-host the Slate Political Gabfest.
Son of a Libyan revolutionary, Kayem is a Chicago-based hip hop artist who was born into the struggle. His father was a political prisoner who helped form a pro-democracy movement after escaping prison. Kayem’s first trip to Libya, after spending a lifetime of advocacy in exile, was filmed in the docu-series “Sing Freedom.”
Professor of Religious Studies
Hussein Rashid, PhD, is a professor of religious studies at Barnard College and founder of islamicate, L3C, a consultancy focusing on religious literacy and cultural competency. He works with a variety of NGOs, foundations, nonprofits, and governmental agencies for content expertise on religion broadly, with a specialization on Islam. His work includes exploring theology, the interaction between culture and religion, and the role of the arts in conflict mediation. Hussein has a B.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from Columbia University, a master’s degree in Theological Studies focusing on Islam, and an M.A. and PhD in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, focusing on South and Central Asia from Harvard University.
Daisy Khan is executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA), a New York-based nonprofit dedicated to strengthening an expression of Islam based on cultural and religious harmony, as well as building bridges between Muslims and the general public. At ASMA, Daisy Khan has created a number of groundbreaking intra- and inter-faith programs. She has led numerous interfaith events, such as the theater production, “Same Difference,” and the Cordoba Bread Fest Banquet. She continues to mentor American Muslims on assimilation issues, balancing faith and modernity, the challenges of living as a minority, and intergenerational questions. To strengthen the voices of women and youth within the global Muslim community, she created two cutting-edge programs of international scope: Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow (MLT) and the Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality (WISE).
Murtaza Hussain is a national security reporter at investigative news outlet The Intercept. Hussain reports on America’s ongoing War on Terror and issues related to the Muslim American community. Hussain’s articles have also appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian and Al Jazeera English.
Johann Hari is a British journalist. He has written for The New York Times, Le Monde, the Guardian, the Los Angeles Times, and several other notable news outlets. He was an op-ed columnist for the Independent, one of Britain’s leading newspapers, for nine years. Hari is the author of The New York Times best-selling book “Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs.”
Maia Szalavitz is one of the premier American journalists covering addiction and drugs. She is the author of “Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction,” and co-author of “Born for Love” and “The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog,” both with Dr. Bruce D. Perry. Her book, “Help at Any Cost” is the first book-length exposé of the “tough love” business that dominates addiction treatment. She writes for TIME.com, VICE, The New York Times, Scientific American Mind, Elle, Psychology Today and Marie Claire, among other publications and news outlets.
Alex Clermont is a copywriter and creative writer born and raised in New York City. He’s the author of “You, Me and the Rest of Us: #NewYorkStories,” a collection of stories “about those people who are all trying to find their place in the world;” “Eating Kimchi & Nodding Politely,” a collection of creatively written narratives about his time as an English teacher in South Korea; and the literary short story romance “Missing Rib.” He’s also a prison-reform activist.
Staff Attorney, Knight First Amendment Institute
Carrie DeCell is a staff attorney at the Knight First Amendment Institute and a Lecturer in Law at Columbia Law School. Her litigation focuses on freedom of speech on social media and government surveillance of speech at the border. In addition, she runs the Knight Institute’s externship program with Columbia Law School.
Former Vice President and General Counsel for The New York Times
James C. Goodale is a leading First Amendment lawyer. He has represented The New York Times in four U.S. Supreme Court cases. Perhaps the most famous involved the Pentagon Papers, a secret history of the Vietnam War leaked to The New York Times by Daniel Ellsberg. He's currently a partner at the New York-based firm Debevoise & Plimpton.
Managing Editor, U.S. Press Freedom Tracker
Professor of Urban Studies and Planning
Vivek Shandas is a professor of urban studies and planning at Portland State University where he specializes in developing strategies for addressing the implications of climate change on cities. His teaching and research examine the intersection of exposure to climate-induced events, governance processes, and planning mechanisms. As an interdisciplinary scholar, Dr. Shandas studies the emergent characteristics that generate vulnerability among communities and infrastructure.
Director of Capacity Building
Originally from Queens, New York, Cate began her career teaching middle school science to students in the Bronx and Brownsville, Brooklyn. She later transitioned to the policy side of working with low-income communities as the Director of Policy and Program Development for the Massachusetts Division of Public Housing. In 2018, Mingoya joined Groundwork USA as the director of capacity building.
Senior Research Analyst
As an urban geographer and senior research analyst at the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC), Bruce Mitchell recognizes the crucial role of place in determining the range of economic opportunities available to people. He specializes in the application of quantitative methods, including conventional and spatial statistics, remote sensing, and geographic information systems (GIS) to analyze patterns of inequity in U.S. cities. He is deeply interested in the historical and structural factors which have shaped the present demographic and socioeconomic patterns of neighborhoods. These factors include segregation, redlining, suburbanization, urban renewal, and gentrification.
Narrative Change Liaison, Eviction Lab
Alieza Durana writes and leads media strategy for The Eviction Lab in partnership with the Economic Hardship Reporting Project. Alieza gained a decade of experience as a writer and researcher of the intersections of gender, work, and social policy, most recently at the think tank New America, as a Senior Policy Analyst at the Better Life Lab program. Her work mapping the state of childcare in America gained widespread national attention during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU National Prison Project
Maria Morris is a senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) National Prison Project. Morris recently wrote a piece for the ACLU in which she said "people in prisons and jails are uniquely vulnerable to coronavirus," and urged officials to ensure the safety of inmates.
Managing Director Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem
Alice Fontier is the managing director of Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem (NDS), which provides holistic public defense services, including criminal and civil attorneys, social workers, family attorneys, and other resources. Fontier previously held the same position at nonprofit public defender The Bronx Defenders.
Director of Organizing and Advocacy at Center for Community Alternatives
Katie Schaffer is the Director of Organizing and Advocacy at Center for Community Alternatives. Prior to that, she
coordinated a statewide campaign for bail reform which won a historic victory in April 2019. She has also served as the Director of College Access at the Prisoner Reentry Institute of John Jay College, collaborating with incarcerated students to develop and expand college access in New York State prisons, and has worked as an independent consultant, supporting organizations across the state in developing new campaigns and advocacy work.
Staff Attorney ACLU of Florida
Director of National Resource Center on Children and Families of the Incarcerated
Ann Adalist-Estrin is director of the National Resource Center on Children and Families of the Incarcerated. The center was originally part of the federal government during the Clinton administration, serving children and families of those who were incarcerated. In 2013 the center merged with Rutgers University-Camden. It works to support and promote family strengthening policy related to incarceration and to gather accurate data on people who are most impacted. The center also provides training and technically assistance to state and local governments.
Dr. Sharrelle Barber
Assistant Research Professor at Drexel University
Dr. Sharrelle Barber
Dr. Sharrelle Barber received a Doctor of Science (ScD) degree in Social Epidemiology from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Health Behavior and Health Education from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health. Her research focuses on the intersection of “place, race, and health” and examines the role of structural racism (i.e., concentrated economic disadvantage and residential segregation) in shaping health and racial/ethnic health inequalities among Blacks, with a particular focus on the Southern United States and Brazil.
Dr. Uché Blackstock
Founder and CEO of Advancing Health Equity
Dr. Uché Blackstock
Dr. Uché Blackstock is a board-certified physician and the CEO and founder of Advancing Health Equity, which seeks to rectify long-held inequities in healthcare. Blackstock also serves as a part-time physician for an urgent care center in New York and has witnessed first-hand the toll the novel coronavirus has taken on disenfranchised minority populations.
Dr. Arline Geronimus
Professor in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, and associate director and research professor in the Population Studies Center at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan
Dr. Arline Geronimus
Dr. Arline T. Geronimus is a professor in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, and associate director and research professor in the Population Studies Center at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, where she also is the founding director of the Public Health Demography training program. She is affiliated with the Center for Research on Ethnicity, Culture, and Health.
Professor of law at NYU & faculty director of The Policing Project
Professor Friedman is one of the country’s leading authorities on constitutional law, criminal procedure, and the federal courts. He is the author of the critically-acclaimed The Will of the People: How Public Opinion Has Influenced the Supreme Court and Shaped the Meaning of the Constitution (2009), and the widely-discussed book on policing and the Constitution, Unwarranted: Policing without Permission, (2017). Professor Friedman writes extensively about police regulation, constitutional law and theory, federal jurisdiction, and judicial behavior. His scholarship appears regularly in the nation’s top law and peer-edited reviews, and he is a frequent contributor to the nation's leading publications, including The New York Times, Slate, The Los Angeles Times, Politico and The New Republic, among others.
Representative of Justice Committee
London Arnold is a representative of the four-decade-old Justice Committee grassroots organization, which strives to end police violence in New York City. The group supports families who have lost loved ones to police violence and advocates for police accountability and reform.
Journalist & Author
Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist, syndicated columnist and author of the New York Times and international bestsellers, No is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need (2017), This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate (2014), The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (2007) and No Logo (2000). Photo credit: Kourosh Keshiri
Author & Researcher
Through research, writing, legal services, and organizing, Andrea J. Ritchie has dedicated the past two decades to challenging abusive and discriminatory policing against women, girls, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people of color. She's researcher-in-residence at the Barnard Center for Research on Women, author of "Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color,” and co-author of "Say Her Name: Resisting Police Brutality Against Black Women," a joint report published by the African American Policy Forum and Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies at Columbia Law School.
Professor of Law, University of Florida Levin College of Law
Michelle S. Jacobs is a professor of law at University of Florida Levin College of Law, where she teaches Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, International Criminal Law, Critical Race Theory, and the seminar Criminal Law in the Virtual Context, which examines the ways technological development creates interesting intersections between traditional civil law and criminal law. Prior to academia, Jacobs was an experienced trial attorney. Among many other clients, she represented union workers in District Council 37, New York’s second largest union, and represented plaintiffs in federal civil rights litigation under the Fair Housing Act. She frequently writes about race, crime, and law, with contributions spanning a wide list of publications. Jacobs is also the author of "The Violent State: Black Women’s Invisible Struggle Against Police Violence," published in the William and Mary Journal of Race, Gender and Social Justice.
Attorney at San Francisco Public Defender's Office
Danielle Harris is managing attorney for the San Francisco Public Defender's Integrity Unit. She previously served as managing attorney of the defender's office felony unit, and is an experienced trial attorney.
Research Analyst at Prison Policy Initiative
Emily Widra is a research analyst at the Massachusetts-based Prison Policy Initiative (PPI), a nonprofit think-tank that focuses on the criminal justice system. Widra joined PPI full time in January 2020, and her work includes research into the limits of video visitation technology; Travis County, Texas' experiments replacing in-person visitation with video visitation; and why Black women are disproportionately affected by HIV.
Faculty Director, UCLA Prison Law & Policy Program
Sharon Dolovich is Professor of Law at UCLA School of Law, and Director of the UCLA Prison Law & Policy Program. She also serves as director of the UCLA Law COVID-19 Behind Bars Data Project, which tracks infections, deaths, releases, and other virus-related issues inside jails and prisons. Dolovich teaches courses on criminal law, the constitutional law of prisons, and other post-conviction topics, and her scholarship focuses on the law, policy, and theory of prisons and punishment. She has been a visiting professor at NYU, Harvard, and Georgetown, and a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. She also served as Deputy General Counsel for the Los Angeles Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence, which was charged with investigating use of force in the L.A. County Jail and making recommendations for institutional reform.
Senior Counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund
Deuel Ross serves as Senior Counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF). In that capacity, Ross uses litigation, public education and other advocacy strategies to ensure that Black people have equal access to the political process and to educational opportunities.
Ross is lead counsel in Greater Birmingham Ministries v. Merrill, an ongoing Voting Rights Act lawsuit that challenges Alabama’s racially discriminatory voter photo ID law. He was a member of the trial team and has co-authored the appellate briefs in Veasey v. Perry, the successful challenge to Texas’s unconstitutional photo ID law. Ross has also represented Black voters in amicus briefs and via public advocacy, including successful challenges to an unconstitutional election system in the City of Florissant, Mo. and the Arkansas photo ID law.
President, Color Of Change
Rashad Robinson is the president of Color Of Change, a leading racial justice organization driven by millions of members who are building power for Black communities. Color Of Change uses innovative strategies to bring about system change in the industries that affect Black people’s lives: Silicon Valley, Wall Street, Hollywood, Washington, corporate board rooms, local prosecutor offices, state capitol buildings and city halls around the country.
Campaign Lead, Black Visions
Oluchi Omeoga is campaign lead at Black Visions, an advocacy organization created in 2017 and is rooted in transformative justice. Black Visions has become one of the most recognizable racial justice groups in the Twin Cities and has spearheaded the push to divest from the Minneapolis Police Department.
Professor of Sociology, Brooklyn College
Alex Vitale is a professor of sociology and coordinator of the Policing and Social Justice Project at Brooklyn College. He has spent the last 30 years writing about policing and consults both police departments and human rights organizations internationally. He is the author of "The End of Policing."
Carissa Byrne Hessick
Professor of University of North Carolina School of Law
Carissa Byrne Hessick
Carissa Byrne Hessick is a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law and director of The Prosecutors and Politics Project. Hessick is also the Anne Shea Ransdell and William Garland “Buck” Ransdell, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Law. Her areas of interest include criminal law and the workings of the criminal justice system. She is a graduate of Yale Law School.
Executive Director of Fair and Just Prosecution
Miriam Krinsky is the executive director of the nonprofit Fair and Just Prosecution. A former federal prosecutor, Krinsky works with newly elected reform prosecutors as they seek to reverse decades of tough-on-crime policies that have helped fuel mass incarceration.
Associate Professor of Law at Rutgers Law School
Prior to joining the faculty at Rutgers Law, Thea Johnson was an associate professor of law at the University of Maine School of Law where she was awarded Law Professor of the Year in 2019 and 2020. She was also a Thomas C. Grey Fellow at Stanford Law School, and a public defender with both the Federal Defenders of New York and the Criminal Defense Division of The Legal Aid Society in New York.
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