Rev. C. T. Vivian is a living legend of the Civil Rights Movement and he continues his activism today, tirelessly working for the progress of African Americans and the civil and political rights of all people. An uplifting speaker, he has addressed audiences on the issues of civil rights, non-violence, racism and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with whom he worked for many years.
A Baptist minister, his first use of non-violent direct action was in 1947, to end Peoria's segregated lunch counters. Later he founded the Nashville Christian Leadership Conference, organizing the first sit-ins there in 1960 and the first civil rights march in 1961. Rev. Vivian was a rider on the first "Freedom Bus" into Jackson, Mississippi, and went on to work alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on his Executive Staff in Birmingham; Selma; Chicago; Nashville; the March on Washington; Danville, Virginia; and St. Augustine, Florida. During the summer following the Selma Movement, Rev. Vivian conceived and directed an educational program, Vision, and put 702 Alabama students in college with scholarships. The program later became Upward Bound.
Rev. Vivian has been featured as an activist and an analyst in the civil rights documentary, "Eyes on the Prize," and has been featured in a PBS special, "The Healing Ministry of Dr. C. T. Vivian." Rev. Vivian is the focus of the biography, Challenge and Change by Lydia Walker and he is author of Black Power and the American Myth, which was an Ebony Book Club Selection. His leadership positions have included: Chairman of the Southern Organizing Committee Education Fund, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) the Black Action Strategies and Information Center (BASIC), and the Center for Democratic Renewal.
An eloquent and inspiring speaker, Rev. Vivian continues to speak out for racial justice and democracy.
Dr. Nevarez serves as an associate professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies as well as Director of the Independent Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership at California State University, Sacramento. He received his doctorate in Education Leadership and Policy Studies and a master’s in Counseling from Arizona State University. Much of his work has been focused on developing academic programs designed to cultivate transformational leaders, including a master’s program and two doctoral programs in educational leadership. His recent research and publications focus on addressing what type of leadership training is available for higher education leaders and its impact on leadership development.
Nevarez has taught numerous courses on the topic of leadership theory, diversity, research methods, and student affairs. He is currently Chair of the American Educational Research Association Special Interest Group: Multicultural/Multiethnic Education—Research, Theory and Practice, and was a Doctoral Fellow for the Kellogg Foundation. He has also served a number of internships and fellowships with national organizations such as the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, the Education Commission of the States, the National Science Foundation: Association for Institutional Research, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. He also is a consultant for the College Board and the Education Testing Service.
Raising in the Sun: Leading for a Just World in the 21st Century
Dr. Tricia Rose, author, commentator, and social critic, is well known for her ground-breaking book on hip hop culture. Her first book, Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America, was listed as one of the “Top Books of the 20th Century” by Black Issues in Higher Education. Her 2008 book, The Hip Hop Wars, challenges the contemporary state of hip hop and examines the possibility of reincarnating the progressive heart of what hip hop once was and still can be. She received her BA in Sociology from Yale University and her Ph.D. from Brown University in the field of American Studies. She has taught at several of the nation’s educational institutions like NYU, University of California at Santa Cruz, and Brown University where she is currently a professor.
Rose honestly addresses the most difficult and yet richest areas of our culture in an effort to debunk the societal myths and stigmas that plague our psyches.
A renowned speaker, educator, author, activist and minister, Eric Thomas is rising to national prominence by delivering a high energy message that tells young people through first-hand experience how to live up to their full potential and greatness by breaking the cycles of crime, hopelessness and despair that many face daily. Known for his engagingly personal approach, his messages are dynamic and inspiring. Thomas is no stranger to the ills that plague our communities as he was born in Chicago and raised on the streets of Detroit. His childhood and adolescent years were difficult, and his life struggles and personal identity issues were intensified because like so many, he did not establish a relationship with his biological father until his early thirties.
At age 16, Thomas dropped out of school, left home and lived on the streets of Detroit, supporting himself through a life of theft, gambling and other illicit activities, until he met a pastor who saw him as a young man with tremendous unrealized potential. As a result of their mentoring relationship Thomas completed his GED and enrolled in Oakwood University. It was while he was in college that he started the Break the Cycle I Dare You organization that focuses on youth who have had struggles and obstacles to overcome in their lives. Understanding the struggle of the streets, he realized what his purpose in life was to become, so he reached back to his fellow drug dealers and helped many of them to get their GEDs and go to college, incorporating many of the strategies and self-improvement exercises he learned in order to assist them in developing their own positive life plans.
Currently, Thomas is pursuing his Ph.D. in Education Administration at Michigan State and serves as senior pastor of A Place of Change Ministries in Lansing, Michigan as well as an academic advisor at Michigan State in the Office of Supportive Services.
The Journey for Equality and Equity Continues
Cheryl Jacques served as president and executive director of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), leading the HRC through the successful defeat of the anti-gay Federal Marriage Amendment. Jacques took the helm of HRC after serving nearly a dozen years in the Massachusetts State Senate, being first elected at age 29 in a traditionally conservative district, proving her ability to speak to constituents across a spectrum of ideologies.
In the Senate, Jacques was a leader in civil rights and equality, successfully pushing for the inclusion of sexual orientation in the Hate Crimes Statute. An outspoken advocate for gay and lesbian youth, she has also championed the cause of civil rights, consumer protection, criminal justice and victim’s rights.
The Poverty Manifesto
From his celebrated conversations with world figures to his work inspiring the next generation, broadcaster, author, publisher, advocate, and philanthropist Tavis Smiley has emerged as an voice for change. Currently the host of the Tavis Smiley show on PBS and The Tavis Smiley Show and Smiley & West on Public Radio International, Smiley has authored 16 books. His memoir, What I Know for Sure: My Story of Growing Up in America, became a New York Times best seller, and the book he edited, Covenant with Black America, became the first nonfiction book by a Black-owned publisher to reach number one on the New York Times’ best-sellers list.
In his latest title The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto, Smiley and his co-author Dr. Cornel West take on the “p” word — poverty. In this game-changing book, they challenge all Americans to re-examine their assumptions about poverty in America — what it really is and how to eradicate it.