American by Senalka McDonald

Image: “American” by Senalka McDonald

Biographies of Participants

Photo of Kaleema Al-Nur Kaleema Al-Nur [Forum Organizer] is the recipient of the 2008–2010 Postgraduate Fellowship in Human Rights at the Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice. Kaleema received her J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law and her undergraduate degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with dual concentrations in International Human Rights and Spanish from the ‘Global College’ program of Long Island University. Under Northeastern’s unique cooperative education program, Kaleema completed legal co-op’s with the Serious Felony Division of the North Carolina Office of the Public Defender in Charlotte; the Women’s Rights and Gender Unit of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in San Jose, Costa Rica. Prior to joining the Rapoport Center, she also worked in Dorchester District Court as a Civil Legal Advocate under Northeastern’s Domestic Violence Clinic. In addition, she prepared an analysis and recommendations on redressability for victims of the New Bedford Immigration raid before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights in collaboration with the Immigration Unit of Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS). Kaleema was the recipient of the Spirit of Valerie Gordon Human Rights Book Award (2006) and the Denise Carty-Bennia Memorial Bar Award (2008). As an undergraduate, Kaleema completed co-op’s in Costa Rica with Feminist International Radio Endeavour (F.I.R.E.) and Peru with Amnesty International. She also pursued international human rights studies in London and completed an in-depth research project in the Canary Islands on that country’s movement for independence from Spain. Kaleema is also an alum of V.I.S.T.A [Volunteers in Service to America], a Kennedy-era domestic Peace Corps initiative.

photo of carol anderson Carol Anderson is an associate professor of African American Studies at Emory University and has recently completed a fellowship at Harvard University’s Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History. Professor Anderson’s research and teaching focus on public policy; particularly the ways that domestic and international policies intersect through the issues of race, justice and equality in the United States. She is the author of Eyes off the Prize: The United Nations and the African-American Struggle for Human Rights, 1944–1955, which was published by Cambridge University Press and awarded both the Gustavus Myers and Myrna Bernath Book Awards. In her forthcoming book, Bourgeois Radicals: The NAACP and the Struggle for Colonial Liberation, 1941–1960, Professor Anderson uncovers the long-hidden and important role of the nation’s most powerful civil rights organization in the fight for the liberation of peoples of color in Africa and Asia. Her research has garnered substantial fellowships and grants from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Ford Foundation, National Humanities Center, Harvard University, and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Professor Anderson has also received numerous teaching awards, including the William T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence, the Mizzou Class of 1939 Outstanding Faculty Award , the Most Inspiring Professor Award from the Athletic Department, the Gold Chalk Award for Outstanding Graduate Teaching, and the Provosts Teaching Award for Outstanding Junior Faculty. Professor Anderson serves as a member of the U.S. State Department’s Historical Advisory Committee and is on the Board of Directors of the Harry S. Truman Library Institute. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Miami University, where she earned bachelors and masters degrees in Political Science, International Relations, and History. She earned her Ph.D. in history from The Ohio State University.

Photo of Cliff Brown Cliff Brown is a practicing Attorney with over 19 years experience. Mr. Brown received his BBA in Business Management & Finance from Adelphi University in New York. He earned a Juris Doctorate at The George Washington University - National Law Center (Washington D.C.) in 1989. Mr. Brown has extensive litigation experience having tried over 100 cases. He has worked both sides of the aisle as both a defense attorney and prosecutor. Upon Graduating law school, he accepted a position as an Assistant District Attorney with the Bronx District Attorney’s Office in New York City. This position proved to be a great training ground where he prosecuted a wide variety of crimes including child abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, robbery as well as homicide cases. In 1993 he entered into private practice as a Partner in the New York City firm of Jackson, Brown, Powell and St. George. This firm was principally an Entertainment Law Firm. However given Brown’s litigation experience the firm was also able to serve its clients in the areas of criminal defense and civil litigation. As a criminal defense attorney, Brown handled several high profile cases involving both celebrity as well as indigent clients. Mr. Brown and his family relocated to Austin, Texas from the New York Metropolitan Area in 2000, whereupon he accepted a position with the Travis County District Attorney’s Office. He once again began to prosecute the most serious of cases in the District Courts of Travis County. In 2004 Mr. Brown was selected to serve in a newly created position as a Community Prosecutor in the North Central area of Austin. He served as a liaison working in partnership with various community residents, groups, organizations as well as the Austin Police Department seeking to help facilitate solutions to local problems thereby strengthening neighborhoods. In January of 2007, Mr. Brown was selected to serve as the City of Austin Police Monitor. His office is a vehicle for citizens to file complaints of misconduct against the Austin Police Department. They oversee the investigation of those complaints in order to provide a sense of transparency to that process in an effort to enhance public confidence and support of the Police Department. Mr. Brown is very active in Austin community affairs through his church (Mount Sinai Missionary Baptist Church) where he serves as a member of the Deacon’s Ministry and the Lake Travis Youth Association where Mr. Brown is both a past Board Member and presently a volunteer basketball coach. In addition, Mr. Brown has served as a mentor within AISD. He is a regular panelist for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MAAD). He is a regular facilitator at the monthly Harvest Foundations African-American Men and Boy’s Conferences. He is presently a Board Member of the National. Mr. Brown and his wife Tammie have two daughters ages 16 and 13 years old.

Darrell Caldwell [Coming Soon!], Program Administrator, Neighborhood Conference Committee of Travis County

Photo of Latreese Cooke Latreese Cooke is originally from Chicago, Illinois. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Minorities for Equality in Employment, Education, Liberty and Justice [MEEELJ], which was founded and incorporated in 1991, but officially opened offices in Bastrop, Texas in 2004. MEEELJ works with the children of incarcerated parents and persons who are on parole. All the programs that are offered by the organization were created and developed by Latreese. She has worked in state government in various capacities from administrative, human resources, legislative response and operations management and in the private sector as a professional ethics liaison, administrative manager and consultant. She has extensive experience in activism and advocating for the civil rights of disadvantaged persons. Presently, she is involved in multiple re-entry Committees within Texas, and is Chairperson for the Committee on Legislative Policy Reform for Incarcerated Persons and serves on many other committees. She is a Certified Alcohol Awareness Instructor and has the only licensed outpatient treatment facility in Bastrop County. Latreese is a former State Senate Page who served in the 65th Legislative Session sponsored by then Senator Lloyd Doggett; and most recently sought a Texas State House Seat by running for State Representative in District 17. She is an alumnus of the University of Phoenix, Austin Community College and is currently attending St. Edward’s University in Austin. She is a member of the Holy Temple COGIC in Austin, Texas. Latreese is the wife of Khalif and the proud mother of three children Erin, Quione and Samirrah.

Photo of Jill Soffiyah Elijah Jill Soffiyah Elijah serves as Deputy Director of the Criminal Justice Institute (CJI) at Harvard Law School (HLS). In her capacity as Deputy Director at CJI, she is responsible for leading the fulfillment, development and expansion of the Institute’s work to address the urgent needs of the powerless, voiceless and indigent in the criminal justice system. Elijah was a clinical instructor at CJI prior to being selected to her current position. As a clinician, she supervised third-year law students in the representation of adult and juvenile clients in the Roxbury and Dorchester Divisions of the Boston Municipal Court. Under Elijah’s leadership, HLS won the 2004 National Trial Advocacy Competition, the same Competition at which HLS placed second in 2003. Ms. Elijah practiced law through various avenues before transitioning into the clinical practice of academia. She was a Supervising Attorney at the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem (NDS), where she defended indigent members of the Harlem, New York community. Before joining NDS, Ms. Elijah was in private practice, specializing in criminal defense and family law. She also worked as a Staff Attorney for the Juvenile Rights Division of the Legal Aid Society.

With 20 years in the legal profession, the scope of her interests and scholarship is diverse. Elijah has authored several articles and publications based on her research of the U.S. criminal justice and prison systems. She has represented numerous political prisoners and social activists over the past 22 years. And, her travels to Cuba over the past 17 years have enabled her to conduct extensive research on the country’s legal system, with a focus on its approach to criminal justice issues. In 2001, Elijah was awarded a Revson Fellowship at Columbia University to continue research in her areas of interest. Elijah’s current research and scholarship focuses on criminal justice issues and the prison industrial complex. Elijah earned her B.A. from Cornell University and her J.D. from Wayne State University Law School.

Photo of Karen Engle Karen Engle has taught at The University of Texas School of Law since 2002. She directs the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice, which she helped found in 2004. She is also an affiliated faculty member of Latin American Studies and of Gender and Women’s Studies, and is a Senior Fellow at the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law. She teaches courses in public international law, international human rights and employment discrimination, as well as specialized seminars such as "Publishing Legal Scholarship" and "Human Rights and Justice Workshop." Professor Engle received her J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School and her undergraduate degree from Baylor University. Following law school, she clerked for Judge Jerre S. Williams on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, and then served as a post-doctoral Ford Fellow in Public International Law at Harvard Law School. She was Professor of Law at the University of Utah prior to joining the University of Texas.

Professor Engle writes and lectures extensively on international law and human rights. Her recent works include “Indigenous Roads to Development” (forthcoming, Handbook of International Law, Routledge), “Judging Sex in War” (forthcoming, Michigan Law Review), “Calling in the Troops: The Uneasy Relationship Among Human Rights, Women’s Rights and Humanitarian Intervention,” Harvard Human Rights Law Journal (2007 ), “Feminism and Its (Dis)contents: Criminalizing War-Time Rape in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” American Journal of International Law (2005), “Liberal Internationalism, Feminism and the Suppression of Critique: Contemporary Approaches to Global Order in the United States,” Harvard International Law Journal (2005) and “International Human Rights and Feminisms: When Discourses Keep Meeting” in International Law: Modern Feminist Approaches (2005). Professor Engle spent spring and summer of 2007 in Bogotá, Colombia , where she investigated and lectured on indigenous rights and Afro-Colombian rights. She has been named a Fulbright Senior Specialist. —JD 1989, Harvard; BA 1984, Baylor.

Photo of Edmund T. Gordon Edmund T. Gordon is the former Director of the Center for African and African American Studies and Associate Professor in Anthropology of the African Diaspora at The University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Gordon has also been recently appointed as the Associate Vice President of Thematic Initiatives and Community Engagement of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at The University of Texas. His teaching and research interests include: Culture and power in the African Diaspora, gender studies (particularly Black males), critical race theory, race education, and the racial economy of space and resources. His publications include Disparate Diasporas: Identity and Politics in an African-Nicaraguan Community, 1998 UT Press. Dr. Gordon received his Doctorate in Social Anthropology from Stanford University and his Master's of Arts from Stanford University in Anthropology and Master's degree in Marine Sciences from the University of Miami.

Joy James’ focuses on political and feminist theory, critical race theory, and incarceration. Her current research focuses on Black Women in National Politics, 1964–2004, from Fannie Lou Hamer to Condoleeza Rice. James is author of the forthcoming: Memory, Shame and Rage: The Central Park Case, 1989–2002; Shadowboxing: Representations of Black Feminist Politics; Transcending the Talented Tenth: Black Leaders and American Intellectuals; and Resisting State Violence: Radicalism, Gender and Race in U.S. Culture. Her edited works include: Warfare in the American Homeland: Policing and Prison in a Penal Democracy; The New Abolitionists: (Neo)Slave Narratives and Contemporary Prison Writings; Imprisoned Intellectuals: America’s Political Prisoners Write on Life, Liberation, and Rebellion; and The Angela Y. Davis Reader. Joy James is Senior Research Fellow at the Center for African and African American Studies, University of Texas, Austin and the John B. and John T. McCoy Presidential Professor of the Humanities and College Professor in Political Science at Williams College. James has received research grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (NY Public Library) and the Rockefeller Bellagio Center (Italy).

Photo of Nelson Linder Nelson Linder, [Coming Soon!], President, Austin Area Chapter, NAACP

Photo of Joni L. Jones Joni L. Jones/Omi Osun Olomo is Associate Professor of Theatre & Dance at the University of Texas College of Fine Arts. She specializes in performance scholarship that focuses on identity, ethnography, Yoruba-based performance aesthetics, Black Feminisms and Theatre for Social Change. She teaches undergraduate courses in African-American theatre history and the performance of race. At the graduate level she teaches performance ethnography, performing Black Feminisms, Yoruba performance, and performance and activism. Dr. Jones was a Fulbright Fellow in Nigeria (1997–1998) where she taught at Obafemi Awolowo University and contributed Theatre for Social Change workshops to the Forum on Governance and Democracy in Ile-Ife. Her dramaturgical work includes con flama for Frontera @ Hyde Park Theatre, Clay Angels for New WORLD Theatre in Amherst, Massachusetts, and Shakin’ the Mess Outta Misery and Pill Hill for First Stage Productions in Austin, Texas. In Austin, Texas and Washington, D.C. she has received acting awards for her work in professional theatre. Dr. Jones was the opening plenary performer at the Second Annual Performance Studies Conference at Northwestern University with "sista docta." That work has also been presented at National Communication Association National Conference, Pedagogy/Theatre of the Oppressed Conference, and the Black Women in the Academy II Conference. Her print scholarship on performance and identity have appeared in Text and Performance Quarterly, Theatre Topics, The Drama Review, Theatre Insight, Theatre Journal, and Black Theatre News. She is currently writing a book on the use of a jazz aesthetic among theatre artists with particular attention to Laurie Carlos, Daniel Alexander Jones, and Sharon Bridgforth, as well as a book documenting the work of The Austin Project—a collaborative venture among women of color artists, scholars and activists and their allies.

Photo of Rob Owen Rob Owen has defended people facing the death penalty since 1989 at every level of the state and federal court system, including arguing successfully at the United States Supreme Court (Tennard v. Dretke (2004), Abdul-Kabir v. Quarterman (2007), and Brewer v. Quarterman (2007)). He has taught at the Law School continuously since1998. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia, where he studied comparative literature, and Harvard Law School. After spending six years as an attorney with the Texas Resource Center in Austin, he served for three years as an Assistant Federal Public Defender in Seattle, Washington before entering private practice in Austin. He co-directs the Capital Punishment Clinic, shares responsibility for teaching the classroom course on capital punishment, and leads a freshman seminar on the death penalty in the undergraduate Plan II Honors Program. He is a recipient of the Thurgood Marshall Award, recognizing his work in fighting the death penalty, from the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. In 2008, he was honored by UT Law students with an award given annually to a faculty member who "goes above and beyond for the student body," and also received one of four "Excellence in Public Interest" awards from the student organization Texas Law Fellowships. JD, 1989; Harvard, MA 1986; University of Georgia, AB 1984; University of Georgia.

Photo of Melynda Price Melynda Price is a Visiting Research Fellow in the Capital Punishment Center at the University of Texas School of Law and an Assistant Professor at the University of Kentucky College of Law. Her research focuses on citizenship, punishment and the role of law in the politics of race and ethnicity in the U.S. and its borders. She is currently completing a book titled, At the Cross: Race, Religion, and Citizenship in the Politics of the Death Penalty Among African Americans, which analyzes the role of the death penalty in defining the contemporary relationship between African Americans and the state. Her most recent publications are Litigating Salvation: Race, Religion, and Innocence in the Cases of Karla Faye Tucker and Gary Graham in the University of Southern California Review of Law and Social Justice and a publication on the death penalty and the pursuit of justice in the Rwandan genocide, Balancing Lives: Individual Accountability and the Death Penalty as Punishment for Genocide (Lessons from Rwanda) in the Emory International Law Journal. In 2006, Price completed a Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of Michigan. she also has a J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law and an undergraduate degree from Prairie View A&M University. She teaches in the areas of torts, immigration, law and social science and law and popular culture. She serves on the Board of the Kentucky Equal Justice Center. She is a native of Houston, Texas.

Ja-Mes Sloan is a 2nd year law student at the University of Texas from Dallas, Texas. In May 2007, she received her undergraduate degree in public relations with a minor in Spanish from Hampton University in Hampton, VA. Ja-Mes is currently serving as the Parliamentarian of the Thurgood Marshall Legal Society, UT’s chapter of the National Black Law Student Association. Along with other members of TMLS, Ja-Mes had the opportunity to do volunteer legal work with the victims of Hurricane Katrina. In January 2008, a group of students spent the final week of the winter break in New Orleans, surveying Katrina victims in order to compile the information for use in lobbying for more assistance to the storm stricken area. Along with this trip, Ja-Mes cites her interest in human rights law as arising from a 3 week course on international human rights law taken while studying at the UN-mandated graduate university for peace and conflict studies, the University for Peace (UPEACE) in Santa Ana, Costa Rica during the summer of 2008.

Photo of Gregory Vincent Gregory Vincent has served as Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement, at the University of Texas at Austin since 2006. He also serves as the W.K. Kellogg Professor of Community College Leadership. Additionally, Dr.Vincent is a professor in the School of Law and an endowed faculty fellow of the Sid W. Richardson Chair in Community College Leadership Program in the College of Education.

Vincent, a native of New York City, joined the University of Texas in 2005 as Vice Provost for Inclusion and Cross-Cultural Effectiveness. From 2003 to 2005, Vincent served as Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity and Law Professor at The University of Oregon. From 1999 to 2003, Vincent served as Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Campus Diversity and Law Professor at Louisiana State University. From 1995 to 1999, he served as Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and was a lecturer at the law school. In Ohio, Vincent served as the Assistant Attorney General and successfully argued several major civil rights cases before the Ohio Supreme Court and was promoted to Legal and Regional Affairs Director for the Ohio Civil Rights Commission. He was also vice president and lead counsel for Bank One and an associate in a corporate law firm. In 2003, Vincent was named a fellow at the Institute of Higher Education for Law and Governance at the University of Houston and published articles in several law reviews and peer-reviewed journals. He has presented at a number of national and international conferences on community-university partnerships and successful diversity models. Dr. Vincent earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Hobart and William Smith Colleges, his law degree from The Ohio State University College of Law, and his doctorate from The University of Pennsylvania.

Vice President Vincent serves on the board of numerous organizations including the Austin Area Urban League, Communities in School, Envision Central Texas and E3 Alliance, and is chair of the University of Texas Charter Elementary School’s management board.

Photo of Juliet Walker Juliet Walker is a Professor in the Department of History at the University of Texas at Austin and Founding Director of the Center for Black Business History, Entrepreneurship and Technology (CBBH) at the University of Texas. A University of Chicago PhD, with postdoctoral work at Harvard University, she is author of The History of Black Business in America: Capitalism, Race, Entrepreneurship, the first and only comprehensive scholarly study of African American business activates from the Colonial era to the late 1998. Also, she is author of some ninety published articles and essays and has won thirteen publication awards in addition to teaching awards. Professor Walker has won numerous grants and fellowships including a Princeton University Davis International Fellow in addition to fellowships from the Harvard University Du Bois Institute, Rockefeller Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities and a Senior Fulbright Teaching and Research Fellowship, where she taught at University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, while researching Black Business in South Africa. In addition she has pursued research on comparative black/minority business cultures Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, England, France, Belgium, Netherlands and West Germany.

Professor Walker also launched the Texas Black Business Hall of Fame in 2003 at the CBBH's first conference, "The Federal Government and Black Business." Professor Walker's work in developing the field of Black Business History began with her first book, Free Frank A Black Pioneer on the Antebellum Frontier, which details the business and entrepreneurial activities of slave-born Frank (1777-1854), who used profits from his various enterprises to purchase sixteen family members from slavery, including himself in a forty-year period of time. Free Frank is Professor Walker's great great grandfather was also the first African American to legally plat a town, New Philadelphia, Illinois. The town's site is now a National Historics Landmark.

Professor Walker also serves as Vice President on the Board of Directors of MEEELJ (Minorities for Equality in Employment, Education, Liberty and Justice)founded by Latreesee Cooke, the Executive Director.

Photo of Roger Wareham Roger Wareham is a lawyer and political activist of over four decades. He is a member of the December 12th Movement, an organization of African people which organizes in the Black and Latino community around human rights violations, particularly police terror. Wareham is also the International Secretary-General of the International Association Against Torture (AICT), a non-governmental organization that has consultative status before the United Nations. Since 1989, he has annually presented evidence of human rights violations facing people of color in the United States and other parts of the world at assemblies of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council (formerly the Commission on Human Rights) and its other bodies that meet in Geneva, Switzerland. His work was instrumental in having Mr. Maurice Glele, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance; conduct the first U.N. investigation of the United States in history. Wareham was an active organizer of and participant in the United Nations’ World Conference against Racism held from August 30 – September 7, 2001 in Durban, South Africa.

Mr. Wareham was a lead attorney in the historic lawsuits filed in the Federal District Courts suing private corporations for reparations due the descendants of enslaved Africans in the United States. He is co-counsel representing three of the young Black and Latino men wrongfully convicted in the Central Park Jogger case of 1989. He was co-counsel of the legal team that went to Federal court to defeat former New York Mayor Giuliani’s attempt to prevent the convening of the Million Youth Marches in 1998 and 1999. He has also represented Black political prisoners in various federal lawsuits around the country. He earned his B.A. from Harvard University as a member of the first class graduating with a degree in Afro-American Studies. He then earned his J.D. from Columbia University Law School.