“The Fierce Urgency of Now”

Monday, January 22, 2018, Various Sessions from 3-7:30 pm, Breed Memorial Hall (51 Winthrop Street, Medford, MA 02155)

Each year, Tufts University hosts observances honoring the life and work of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This afternoon symposium on civil rights will open with a performance by the Tufts Black Theater Troupe. Dr. Kerri Greenidge will then place our current moment in historical context. Next, a conversation among community organizers and activists will discuss how this contemporary moment is shaping their work at the local and national levels. We will then conclude with a community dinner and keynote lecture intended to inspire ongoing action for civil rights in our time.

Sponsored by the Office of the President, the Office of the Provost, the Office of the Chief Diversity Officer, the Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences, the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs, the Toupin-Bolwell Fund, the Africana Center, the Center for the Humanities at Tufts, the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy, the Tisch College of Civic Life, and the University Chaplaincy.

Join the Facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/155427115107962/

With any questions, please contact Tufts University Chaplain, The Reverend Greg McGonigle at greg.mcgonigle@tufts.edu.

A live stream of the symposium will be available on the day of the event here: https://www.somervillemedia.org/2018mlkday.

Outline of the Day

3-3:30 pm – Community Coffee, Tea, and Refreshments

3:30-3:45 pm – Welcome Remarks

3:45-4 pm – Performance by Tufts Black Theater Troupe

4-4:15 pm – Historical Context by Dr. Kerri Greenidge, Co-Director, African American Freedom Trail Project, Department of History, and the Consortium of Studies in Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora.

4:30-5:45 pm – Conversation with Boston-Based Organizers and Activists

  • Chris Cato, Green Initiative Project Manager, YouthBuild USA
  • Cheryl Clyburn Crawford, Executive Director, MassVOTE
  • Lydia Edwards, Boston City Councilor

5:45-6:15 pm – Dinner

6:15-7:15 pm – Keynote Speaker, Emery Wright, A99, Co-Director, Project South

An Atlanta native, Emery was raised to be part of Black radical traditions of the U.S. South. Emery carries 2 decades of experience in community organizing, movement building, and political education working primarily across the U.S. South. Prior to working at Project South, Emery co-founded and directed a Black youth organization called The Nia Project which organized in Boston, Coastal South Carolina, and Atlanta. He co-founded and co-facilitated a weekly Black Studies course at South Bay Prison, and he has developed learning and leadership exchanges between grassroots organizers in the U.S., the greater Caribbean, and East Africa. Emery joined the Project South staff team in 2004 and was part of a successful leadership transition to Co-Director in 2007. Emery serves on the board of WRFG, the 35-year old community radio station in Atlanta, the Georgia Citizens’ Coalition on Hunger, and US Human Rights Network.

MLK Symposium Presenter Bios

Dr. Kerri Greenidge, Co-Director, African American Freedom Trail Project, Department of History, and the Consortium of Studies in Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora.

Dr. Kerri Greenidge received her Doctorate in American Studies from Boston University, where her specialty included African-American history, American political history, and African-American literature from 1850 through the 1910s. She has taught at Suffolk University, Boston University, the University of Massachusetts, Emerson College, and Brown University. Her work includes historical research for the Wiley-Blackwell Anthology of African-American Literature, the Oxford African American Studies Center, and the Boston History and Innovation Collaborative. For nine years she worked as a historian for Boston African American National Historical Site in Boston, through which she published her first book, Boston Abolitionists (2006). Her forthcoming book is a biography of African-American activist, William Monroe Trotter, which explores the history of racial thought and African American political radicalism in New England at the turn of the century. She teaches at Tufts University and the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

Chris Cato,Green Initiative Project Manager, YouthBuild USA

Chris Cato has 30 years of experience in community and youth development with a focus on partnership collaboration, workforce development, youth leadership, and environmental responsibility. He is currently the Green Initiative Project Manager at YouthBuild USA, a nonprofit that puts low-income young people on a path to education and employment by teaching construction skills that help them build affordable housing, community centers, and schools.

Chris is also a founding board member of Eagle Eye Institute, an organization that offers hands-on learning experiences in nature and connects underserved urban youth to mentors in the fields of natural resources and science. In addition, he is Chair of the Executive Committee for St. Stephen’s Church and member of the Executive Committee of the United South End Settlements.

Cheryl Clyburn Crawford, Executive Director, MassVOTE

Cheryl Clyburn Crawford is Executive Director at MassVOTE, a nonprofit organization that works to promote active political participation by providing civic organizations the tools they need to organize, register, and educate voters, with an emphasis on historically disenfranchised communities. As the public face of the organization, she plays a critical role in recruiting coalition members, new donors, and volunteers.

Cheryl also serves as 2nd Vice President of the NAACP-Boston Branch. She sits on the Women’s Pipeline for Change’s Oversight and Planning Board and is Vice President of the Garrison Trotter Neighborhood Association. Cheryl previously served as Campaign Manager and, later, Chief of Staff to State Representative Willie Mae Allen.

Lydia Edwards, Boston City Councilor

Lydia Edwards is the recently elected Boston City Councilor for District 1, serving Charlestown, East Boston, and the North End. A former Deputy Director in the Mayor’s Office of Housing Stability, she was responsible for developing and delivering innovative solutions to fight displacement that brought together all stakeholders: landlords, management companies, housing authorities, and tenants.

Councilor Edwards previously worked as a public interest attorney with Greater Boston Legal Services, focusing on labor issues like access to unemployment insurance, back wages, fair treatment for domestic workers and combating human trafficking. She also served as the statewide campaign coordinator for the Massachusetts Coalition for Domestic Workers, which advocated for the passage of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. In 2015, she received an honorable mention in the Boston Globe’s Bostonian of the Year awards.