2015 Program

2015 VPA PROGRAM – as of 1/6/15

  • There are 3 Plenary (general) sessions, 8 Panel Discussions and 3 Workshops.
  • Resolutions – to be submitted to vpassembly@gmail.com by Jan. 7 – will be voted on in the 2nd Plenary Session.
  • There are more than 40 presenters. Except where noted, all panel presentations are 5 minutes each, followed by questions and answers, comments and discussion.
  • Panels, workshops, presenters, panel moderators & plenary co-chairs are listed here in alphabetical order.

First Plenary Session

Welcome & Overview of the Day’s Program
Co-Chairs: True Master, Nation of Gods & Earths & Kat McNeal, Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality

Second Plenary Session

Voting on Resolutions
Co-Chairs: Nasiha Rashid, VCU Living Wage Campaign & Guillermo Zamora, Virginia Raise Up

Third Plenary Session

Report-backs from Panels & Workshops; Overview Talks
Co-Chairs: Charles Brown, Our Walmart Campaign & Ha Tran, Richmond Reproductive Freedom Project


Climate Change & the Environment

MODERATOR: Nathan Stickle, Richmond Jericho
Freeda Cathcart – Mothers Against Pipelines (Roanoke): “Stopping the Dominion Pipeline”
Erica Gray – Member, Not on Our Fault Line – Stop North Anna 3 Nuclear Reactor; Nuclear Chair, Virginia Sierra Club – “Stopping the 3rd nuclear power plant at North Anna”
Kendyl Crawford – Organizer, Virginia Sierra Club: “’Heat Islands’ as green spaces in public areas that help reduce heat.”
Charlie Spatz – Virginia statewide organizer, Chesapeake Climate Action Network: “Climate issues in Virginia and related legislation”

Community Economic Development

Moderator: Ana Edwards, Chair, Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project
Evandra Catherine – Director, The Identity Project; Incoming Director of Community Engagement, VCU Dept. of African American Studies: “Black Self-Sufficient Communities: Greenwood (Tulsa) OK, Hayte (Durham), NC, and Wilmington, NC.
Duron Chavis – Director, Urban Farm Project, Virginia State University: “Urban Farming as Sustainable Community Development”
Monica Esparza – Founder, AfroCity Tours: Building Intergenerational Wealth”
Marty Jewell – Founder, Rebuilding Maggie’s Village: “Developing a Community Wealth Development Plan”
John Lewis – Executive Director Renew Richmond: “Alleviating poverty through Urban Agriculture”
Sera Stavroula – Rag & Bones bicycle cooperative, Richmond: “A grassroots project and a registered 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to spreading the knowledge of bicycle maintenance, repair and safety through an inclusive, safe and casual setting.”

Defending Unions & Organizing the Unorganized

MODERATOR: Cassandra Shaw, Virginia Raise Up
Phen Bowman – Richmond: “Experiences as a queer transman of color at work”
Charles Brown – Walmart Worker, Newport News: “Our Walmart” campaign
Chris Greene – Aramark Worker at VCU
Rev. Rodney Hunter – President, Richmond Chapter SCLC: “Community Support for Workers’ Struggle”
Statement from Prisoners, Buckingham Correctional Center: “Prisoners & Labor in Virginia”
Rolandah McMillan (5 min.) LaShieka Harris, Katrina Lewis, Jarrod Woodson (2.5 min. each): “Virginia Raise Up” (the campaign for $15 an hour for fast food workers)
Representative, UFCW Local 400: “Supporting the General Assembly bill for a $10.10 minimum wage in Virginia”

Education Issues

MODERATOR: Nasiha Rashid, VCU Living Wage Campaign
Panelists: (partial listing)
Dr. Tammy Hodo – Board Chair, African American Family Initiative (AAFI): “The Climate & Culture of Academia & the Continued Need for Minority Students & Faculty.”
Marty Jewell – Co-Founder & Chairman, Advocacy Committee, Richmond Coalition for Quality Education: “Resegregation in Richmond Public School”
Jesse Senechal – Teachers for Social Justice: “Strategies for Keeping Public Schools Public”
Claire Wyatt – Virginia Student Power Network: “Student Debt”

 International Issues & the Antiwar Movement

MODERATOR: Kat McNeal, Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality
Adeeb Abed – Palestinian-American Activist: “Palestine, Israel & the U.S.”
Nick Copeland, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor of Sociology at Virginia Tech: “The U.S. Role in Latin America”
Neil Holmes, Ph.D. – Chairperson, Pan African Unity Movement of Richmond: “The U.S. in Africa”
Ana Edwards – President, Virginia Friends of Mali: “Mali’s Continuing Crises”
Lee Robinson – President, African Awareness Association: “Cuba, Africa & Revolution!”
Simin Royanian – Women for Justice & Peace in Iran; Economist, Marxist, Feminist, Labor Union Activist: “Iran & the U.S.”
Adria Scharf – Director, Richmond Peace Education Center: “The Cost of War”
Phil Wilayto – Editor, The Virginia Defender: “The Roots of Conflict in the Middle East”

 Police & the Criminalization of Communities of Color

MODERATOR: Margaret Breslau, Coalition for Justice, Blacksburg
Panelists: (partial listing)
Kwame Binta – November Coalition: “The War on Drugs”
Jihad Abdulmumit – Richmond Jericho: “Combatting the Criminalization of Communities of Color”
Shavontae Patrick and Ashleigh Shackelford – Black Action Now: “Intersectionality and how different aspects of our identity determine how police brutality affects us within the Black community.”
Kishara Griffin & Kiara Redd-Martin – Operation Social Equality (OSE): “The successful push for post-Ferguson organizing efforts in Charlottesville’s Black community to move beyond respectability politics and into bold, militant action.”
Dr. Tammy Hodo – Board Chair, African American Family Initiative (AAFI): “The Need for Community Policing & the Historical Context under which the Mistrust for the Police Began.”
Phil Wilayto – Editor, The Virginia Defender: “The 2001-1008 Campaign against Richmond Police Shootings & Current Issues”
Representative – Find Sage Smith Campaign, Charlottesville: “The family of Sage Smith and their supporters have an ongoing fundraising and awareness campaign surrounding her disappearance from Charlottesville more than two years ago. They have constantly been educating themselves on the intersecting struggles of Black and trans-identified people, particularly in low-income communities in the South.”

Prisons, Detention Centers & Prisoner Cases

MODERATOR – Weluna Queen Earth, Nation of Gods & Earths
Lillie “Ms. K” Branch-Kennedy – Founder & Executive Director, Resource Information Help for the Disadvantaged (RIHD): “The Mobile Justice Tour”
Felicia Doss – Sister of Jermaine Doss: “The Case of Jemaine Doss”
Born King – Director, Department of Cultural Affairs, Nation of Gods & Earths (also known as the Five-Percenters): “Political Discrimination & Censorship in the Virginia Prison System”
Oludare Ogunde – President & Legislative Coordinator, RIHD: “Legislative Issues in the 2015 General Assembly”
Statement from Prisoners, Buckingham Correctional Center: “Life in a Virginia Prison”
Letter from a Richmond “Justice” Center Inmate: “Life in the Richmond ‘Justice’ Center”
Ras Soloman Tafari, Ras Talawa Tafari – Rastafarians & Former Virginia Prisoners: “Rastafarians in the Virginia Prison System”
Carolina Velez – Community Field Organizer Coordinator, Wayside Center for Popular Education: “Immigrants & the Detention System in Virginia and the Country”

 Women’s Issues, Intersectionality, Solidarity

MODERATOR: Vanessa Nunes – Richmond Activist
Panelists: (partial listing)
Lina Calin – Survivor & Advocate: “Women Surviving Violence”
Rebecca Keel – Southerners on New Ground: “Perspectives from a Black/albino Southern Queer Young Woman”
Katrina Lewis and LaKiesha Harris – Virginia Raise Up
Kat McNeal – Defenders: “Update on TRAP Legislation”
Ashleigh Shackelford – Black Action Now: “Queerness within race. Also, how trans and gender non-conforming individuals are often left out of discussions about women’s rights.”


“Inclusivity in the Black Power Movement” – This workshop will focus on discussing intersectionality and Blackness and how we can move forward towards liberation as a whole. Host: Black Action Now (Richmond)

“Reclaiming Shockoe Bottom” – This workshop is for those who want to help develop a community proposal on the future of Richmond’s Shockoe Bottom, once the center of the U.S. domestic slave trade and now threatened by inappropriate economic development. Hosted by Ana Edwards, Chair, Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project.

“U.S. Imperialism in the Middle East, with an Emphasis on Iran” – Host: Simin Royanian, Women for Peace and Justice in Iran; Economist, Marxist, Feminist & Labor Union Activist; native of Iran who recently returned from a two-month visit.

One thought on “2015 Program

  1. Excellent range of topics! Glad to see Bro. Jihad’s involvement! A must for to see & hear! See everyone on Jan. 10th! RAISE UP!

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