Full Program of the 2015 VPA

Presenters and plenary co-chairs are listed here in alphabetical order

7:30 – 9:00 am – REGISTRATION
Registration is open throughout the day, but this is the main registration period

8:00 – 9:00 am – BLACK CAUCUS meeting – Open to all people of African descent

9:00 – 9:30 am – FIRST PLENARY (general) SESSION

Co-Chairs: True Master, Nation of Gods & Earths & Kat McNeal, Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality
Welcoming Remarks by Rev. Rodney Hunter, Pastor, Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church
Explanation of day’s agenda; housekeeping details

9:45 am – 12:30 pm – PANEL DISCUSSIONS

Education Issues
9:45 am – 10:45 am (60 min.)
MODERATOR: Nasiha Rashid, VCU Living Wage Campaign
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”

Police & the Criminalization of Communities of Color
9:45 am – 11:15 am (90 min.)
MODERATOR: Margaret Breslau, Coalition for Justice, Blacksburg
Jihad Abdulmumit – Richmond Jericho: “Combatting the Criminalization of Communities of Color”
Kwame Binta – November Coalition: “The War on Drugs”
Shavontae Patrick & Ashleigh Shackelford – Black Action Now
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.”
Kiara Redd-Martin & Kishara Griffin – Operation Social Equality: “The successful push for post-Ferguson organizing efforts in Charlottesville’s Black community to move beyond respectability politics and into bold, militant action.”
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.”

Defending Unions & Organizing the Unorganized
11 am – 12:30 pm (90 min.)
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 – Arawark Worker at VCU
Rev. Rodney Hunter – President, Richmond Chapter SCLC: “Community Support for Workers’ Struggle”
Statement from Prisoners in 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”

Community Economic Development
11:30 am – 12:30 pm (60 min.)
MODERATOR: Ana Edwards, Chair, Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project
Evandra Catherine – Founder, The Identity Project; Incoming Director of Community Engagement for the VCU African American Department: “Self-sufficient Communities from a Historical Perspective”
Duron Chavis – Virginia State University – “Urban Farming as Sustainable Community Development”
Ana Edwards – Chair, Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project: “A Proposal for Reclaiming Shockoe Bottom”
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, RenewRichmond: “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.

12:45 – 1:45 pm – LUNCH – with informal meetings

2:00 – 3:00 pm – 2ND PLENARY SESSION

Voting on resolutions; reports from morning panels
Co-Chairs: Nasiha Rashid, VCU Living Wage Campaign & Guillermo Zamora, Virginia Raise Up

 3:15 – 6:00 pm – PANEL DISCUSSIONS

Climate Change & the Environment
3:15 – 4:15 pm (60 min.)
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”
Charlie Spatz – Virginia statewide organizer, Chesapeake Climate Action Network: “Climate issues in Virginia and related legislation”
Kendyl Crawford – Organizer, Virginia Sierra Club: “’Heat Islands’ as green spaces in public areas that help reduce heat.”

Prisons, Detention Centers & Prisoner Cases
3:15 – 4:45 pm (90 min.)
MODERATORS: Weluna Queen Earth, Nation of Gods & Earths & Janet “Queen Nzinga” Taylor, Prisoners & Families for Equal Rights & Justice
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 Jermaine 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 at the 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 (2.5 min. each): “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”

International Issues & the Antiwar Movement
4:30 – 6 pm (90 min.)
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”

Women’s Issues, Intersectionality and Solidarity
5 – 6 pm (60 min.)
MODERATOR: Vanessa Nunes Richmond Activist
Rebecca Keel – Southerners on New Ground: “Perspectives from a Black/albino Southern Queer Young Woman”
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.”

 6:15 – 7:15 pm – Workshops

Inclusivity in the Black Power Movement
6:15 – 6:50 pm
This workshop will focus on discussing intersectionality and Blackness and how we can move forward towards liberation as a whole. Host: Black Action Network (Richmond)

Reclaiming Shockoe Bottom
7:00 – 7:30 pm
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. With Ellen Chapman, RVA Archeology.

U.S. Imperialism in the Middle East, with an Emphasis on Iran
6:15 – 6:45 pm
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.

7:30 pm – DINNER

8:00 – 8:30 pm – Cultural presentation by Corey Harris, world-famous blues singer/songwriter now living in Fulton Hill, Richmond. Will include his new song “I Can’t Breathe.”


Co-Chairs: Charles Brown, Our Walmart Campaign & Ha Tran, Richmond Reproductive Freedom Project
Reports from afternoon panels & overall wrap-up of the conference

9 pm: Group singing of Solidarity Forever!

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