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Live from the Frontlines: Protest and Violence from the Perspective of Activists and Social Movement Leaders

by Nantasha Williams

Nov 19, 2020 | 12:00- 1:30 PM

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Don’t talk to us about looting. Y’all are the looters. America has looted Black people. America looted the Native Americans when they first came here, so looting is what you do. We learned it from you. We learned violence from you. We learned violence from you. The violence was what we learned from you. So if you want us to do better, then, damn it, you do better.” – Tamika Mallory, Co-Founder Until Freedom

Recent social uprisings in the name of Black Lives have been associated with violence primarily in the media, despite other reports that say otherwise. Dominant reports and studies typically tell a one-sided story, based on an outsider’s perspective and fail to uplift the voices of those who are currently on the frontlines. Previous research typically relies on theory and policy and doesn’t consider qualitative data from experienced individuals actively involved in social movements over the last decade. Future research should use qualitative data from individuals that span generations, social movement style, and positionality to tell a richer story of the transgressions of radicalism and violence. Leaning on my personal experiences working within and with recent movements such as the Women’s March on Washington, Until Freedom, and the Gathering for Justice I will leverage my own observations as well as the knowledge of those “live from the movement” to uncover how they view the current movement in comparison to historic movements of the past, and the fate/state of future social movements. The study also seeks to wrestle with central narratives around the usage of and reporting of violence in the name of social justice and possible dangers caused by misuse of such narratives.

About the Speaker

Nantasha Williams is a well respected political strategist and policy whiz who works tirelessly for communities across the country. In 2014, she was appointed the Executive Director of the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus (“the Caucus”) … one of the largest and most influential political entities in the State of New York. As the Executive Director,

Because of her work Williams was honored as one of Albany’s rising stars top 40 under 40 by City & State and later went to run for the New York State Assembly Seat in Southeast Queens in 2016. Her fight for human rights, feminism, and political righteousness, led her to organize one of the largest demonstrations in American history, the Women’s March on Washington as a National Organizer; post the March Nantasha currently serves as consultant to Women’s March Inc.

Outside of Women’s March Nantasha is Manager of External Affairs at John F. Kennedy Airport. Nantasha Williams received her Bachelors of Art degree in Political Science from Virginia Commonwealth University, holds a Master’s in Public Administration from Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, and currently in a PhD program for Social Welfare at the CUNY Graduate Center.

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Right-wing protests in the US: How a violent protest launched the conservative movement and homeschooling in the US

In 1974, the Conservative Movement was born in the hills of West Virginia. The controversy over which books students would read spurred violent protest over race, religion, and family, and saw nearly half the students removed from local public schools. It drew national attention and the arrival of members of Congress, the Heritage Foundation, the John Birch Society, and the KKK. Nearly 50 years later, the Kanawha textbook war is largely forgotten, but the legacy of protest over public education persists and removing students from school remains a tactic in the larger plan of the Conservative Movement to secure political power. This talk recounts this political history and links it to the ongoing politics of opting out, the homeschooling movement, and control of the public square.

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About the Author

Heath Brown is associate professor of public policy at the City University of New York, John Jay College, and the CUNY Graduate Center. His books include Immigrants and Electoral Politics: Nonprofit Organizing in a Time of Demographic Change (2016) and The Tea Party Divided: The Hidden Diversity of a Maturing Movement (2015).

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