Tour Speakers (These are some of the folks who traveled to dozens of cities as part of the Community and Resistance Tour)
Jesse Muhammad, affectionately called Brother Jesse, is a journalist, blogger, experienced community organizer, national motivational speaker, and social media strategist. Brother Jesse has served as a writer for The Final Call Newspaper since 2004 and receives rave reviews for his reporting on hard-hitting stories that impact the community. He gained worldwide recognition for his consistent coverage of Hurricane Katrina survivors and was credited with bringing national and international attention to the case of the “Jena Six.”
Brother Jesse developed a passion for blogging and walked away with three honors from the 2009 Black Weblog Awards including Blog of the Year. He is a guest blogger for GlobalGrind.com and HoustonBelief.com. His news articles and blogs have been featured in numerous print and online publications. Brother Jesse is a weekly news commenter for several radio shows including Sound of Soul (S.O.S.) Radio hosted by DJ Zin on Houston KPFT 90.1FM. He has been interviewed on FOX, ABC, NBC, CNN Radio, Black Entertainment Television (BET), The Cliff Kelly Show, Front Page with Dominique DiPrima, The Stevie Wonder Show, The Roland Martin Show, Hard Rock Radio with Davey D, Sons of Afrika Radio, KJAMZ with Sonny Mac, Suavv Mag Radio, ConversationsLIVE, The Sankofa Experience and more. He is a husband, father, artist, and budding photojournalist….a Renaissance brother.
Victoria Law is a writer, photographer and mother. After a brief stint as a teenage armed robber, she became involved in prisoner support. In 1996, she helped start Books Through Bars-New York City, a group that sends free books to prisoners nationwide. In 2000, she began concentrating on the needs and actions of women in prison, drawing attention to their issues by writing articles and giving public presentations. Since 2002, she has worked with women incarcerated nationwide to produce Tenacious: Art and Writings from Women in Prison and has facilitated having incarcerated women’s writings published in larger publications, such as Clamor magazine, the website “Women and Prison: A Site for Resistance” and make/shift magazine. Her book Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women (PM Press 2009) is the culmination of over 7 years of listening to, writing about and supporting incarcerated women nationwide and resulted in this former delinquent winning the 2009 PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award.
In 1995, she became involved with ABC No Rio, a collectively-run arts center on New York’s Lower East Side, a move that resulted in changing her lifestyle from delinquency to social justice with an arts focus. In 1997, she organized a group of activist photographers to transform one of No Rio’s upstairs tenement apartments into a black-and-white photo darkroom for community use. She has also participated in and curated numerous exhibitions at No Rio’s gallery, many with themes addressing social and political issues such as incarceration, grassroots efforts to rebuild New Orleans, Zapatista organizing, police brutality and squatting.
In 2003, she collaborated with China Martens to create Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind, a workshop addressing the specific (and often unacknowledged) needs of parents and children in radical movements; and has co-facilitated discussions in Baltimore, New York City, Providence, Montreal, Minneapolis, Detroit and Boston. They are editing a handbook for allies of radical parents by the same name.
Jordan Flaherty is a writer and community organizer based in New Orleans. He was the first writer to bring the story of the Jena Six to a national audience, and his award-winning reporting from the Gulf Coast has been featured in a range of outlets including the New York Times, Mother Jones, and Argentina’s Clarin newspaper. His post-Katrina writing in ColorLines Magazine shared a journalism award from New America Media for best Katrina-related coverage in the Ethnic press. Audiences around the world have seen the news segments he’s produced for Al-Jazeera, TeleSur, GritTV, and Democracy Now.
Jordan has appeared as a guest on a wide range of television and radio shows, including CNN Morning, Anderson Cooper 360, CNN Headline News, and both local and nationally-syndicated shows on National Public Radio and Air America, including News and Notes, Radio Nation, and many other progams. As a white southerner who speaks honestly about race, Jordan Flaherty has been regularly published in Black progressive forums such as BlackCommentator.org and Black Agenda Report, and is a regular guest on Black radio stations and programs such as Keep Hope Alive With Reverend Jesse Jackson.
Jordan is an editor of Left Turn Magazine, a national publication dedicated to covering social movements. He has written about politics and culture for the Village Voice, New York Press, Labor Notes, Radical Society, and in several anthologies, including the South End Press books Live From Palestine and What Lies Beneath: Katrina, Race and the State of the Nation, the University of Georgia Press book What is a City, and the AK Press book Red State Rebels.
Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is a Worcester raised, Toronto matured, Oakland-based queer Sri Lankan writer, performer and teacher. She is the 2009-10 Artist in Residence and part-time professor at UC Berkeley’s June Jordan’s Poetry for the People and the co-founder and co-artistic director of Mangos With Chili, North America’s only touring cabaret of queer and trans people of color performing artists.
She is a commissioned performer with Sins Invalid, the national performance organization of queer people with disabilities and chronic illnesses. Her one woman show, Grown Woman Show, has toured nationally, including performances at the National Queer Arts Festival, Swarthmore College, Yale University, Reed College and McGill University.
The author of Consensual Genocide, her writing has appeared in the anthologies Yes Means Yes, Visible: A Femmethology, Homelands, Colonize This, We Don’t Need Another Wave, Bitchfest, Without a Net, Dangerous Families, Brazen Femme, Femme and A Girl’s Guide to Taking Over The World. She writes regularly for Bitch, Colorlines, Hyphen, Left Turn and Make/Shift magazines. The Revolution Starts At Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities, which she co-edited with Ching-In Chen and Jai Dulani, will be published by South End Press in March 2011. Her second book of poetry, Love Cake, and first memoir, Dirty River, are forthcoming.
She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College, focusing on creative nonfiction and community-based teaching by writers of color. In 2009 she was honored as the Bent Writing Institute’s 2009 Bent Mentor. She is a track coordinator for the Creating Safer Communities track of the 2010 Allied Media Conference and an advisor on the Disability Justice track. She frequently travels the country teaching and performing.
Manju Rajendran is an organizer and artist. She is one of many founding members of Ubuntu, a women-of-color and survivor-led organization ending sexual assault and creating transformative love in Durham, NC. Manju is a long-time member and former worker of Southerners On New Ground (SONG), connecting race, class, gender, and sexuality, and she volunteers as a copy editor and occasional writer for Left Turn magazine. On tour, Manju will be telling the story of Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe, her family’s restaurant experiment in creative resiliency and food justice.