Activists

Ericka Higgins

Ericka Huggins is an educator, Black Panther Party member, former political prisoner, ally and poet. 

For 35 years, Ericka has lectured in the United States, and internationally, Restorative Justice practices and, the role of spiritual practice in creating social change. 

In 2016, in recognition of the 50th Anniversary of the Black Panther Party, Ericka speaks about the importance of inclusive grassroots movements. 

Ericka was a professor of Sociology and African American Studies from 2011 through 2015 in the Peralta Community College District. At Merritt College, home of the Black Panther Party, she co-created and taught a course, "The Black Panther Party-Strategies for Organizing The People."


 
Denise Oliver-Velez
 
 
Denise Oliver-Velez is a applied anthropologist, currently teaching Anthropology and Women’s Studies at SUNY New Paltz, and is a Contributing Editor for the progressive political blog Daily Kos, for whom she writes a weekly Sunday morning feature - covering race, gender and culture. 
She is a former member of The Young Lords Party (YLP), serving as their Minister of Economic Development and was the first woman on their Central Committee. She is also a former member of The Black Panther Party.

She worked in community media and public broadcasting for many years, was a co-founder and program director of Pacifica's first minority-controlled radio station, WPFW-FM, in Washington DC and Program Director for WNYC-TV in NY. She was also the executive director of the Black Filmmaker Foundation.
 

Her political activism has spanned over 5 decades - civil rights, anti-war, reproductive and human rights, work in and with prisoners, and HIV/AIDS. 

She is currently a strong supporter and advocate for the Moral Monday's Movement, spear-headed by the Rev. Dr. William Barber in North Carolina.

 


Sonia Sanchez

Poet. Mother. Professor. National and International lecturer on Black Culture and Literature, Women’s Liberation, Peace and Racial Justice. Sponsor of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Board Member of MADRE. Sonia Sanchez is the author of over 20 books including Homecoming, We a BaddDDD People, Love Poems, I’ve Been a Woman, A Sound Investment and Other Stories, Homegirls and Handgrenades, Under a Soprano Sky, Wounded in the House of a Friend (Beacon Press 1995), Does Your House Have Lions? (Beacon Press, 1997), Like the Singing Coming off the Drums (Beacon Press, 1998), Shake Loose My Skin (Beacon Press, 1999) and most recently, Morning Haiku (Beacon Press, 2010). In addition to being a contributing editor to Black Scholar and The Journal of African Studies, she has edited an anthology, We Be Word Sorcerers: 25 Stories by Black Americans. BMA: The Sonia Sanchez Literary Review is the first African American Journal that discusses the work of Sonia Sanchez and the Black Arts Movement. A recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts, the Lucretia Mott Award for 1984, the Outstanding Arts Award from the Pennsylvania Coalition of 100 Black Women, the Community Service Award from the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, she is a winner of the 1985 American Book Award for Homegirls and Handgrenades, the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Humanities for 1988, the Peace and Freedom Award from Women International League for Peace and Freedom (W.I.L.P.F.) for 1989, a PEW Fellowship in the Arts for 1992-1993 and the recipient of Langston Hughes Poetry Award for 1999. Does Your House Have Lions? was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She is the Poetry Society of America’s 2001 Robert Frost Medalist and a Ford Freedom Scholar from the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Her poetry also appeared in the movie Love Jones. Sonia Sanchez has lectured at over 500 universities and colleges in the United States and has traveled extensively, reading her poetry in Africa, Cuba, England, the Caribbean, Australia, Europe, Nicaragua, the People’s Republic of China, Norway, and Canada. She was the first Presidential Fellow at Temple University and she held the Laura Carnell Chair in English at Temple University. She is the recipient of the Harper Lee Award, 2004, Alabama Distinguished Writer, and the National Visionary Leadership Award for 2006. She is the recipient of the 2005 Leeway Foundation Transformational Award and the 2009 Robert Creeley Award. Currently, Sonia Sanchez is one of 20 African American women featured in “Freedom Sisters,” an interactive exhibition created by the Cincinnati Museum Center and Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition. In December of 2011, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter selected Sonia Sanchez as Philadelphia’s first Poet Laureate, calling her “the longtime conscience of the city.” 


Joan Trumpauer Mulholland

Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, the recipient of the 2015 National Civil Rights Museum’s Freedom Award, is a Civil Rights Legend who participated in over 50 sit-ins and demonstrations by the time she was 23 years old. She was a Freedom Rider, a participant in the Jackson Woolworth’s Sit-in, and helped plan and organize the March on Washington.

For her actions she was disowned by her family, attacked, shot at, cursed at, put on death row and hunted down by the Klan for execution. Her path has crossed with some of the biggest names in the Civil Rights Movement: Martin Luther King, Medgar Evers, Fannie Lou Hamer, Robert F. Kennedy, John Lewis, Diane Nash, John Salter, Julian Bond, and Harry Belafonte, to name a few. In addition, she has met such luminaries of that period like Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, Marlon Brando, Jesse Owens and Jackie Robinson.

As a white southern woman her courage and fortitude in the Movement is highly regarded and recognized.

Joan has appeared in several books including, Coming of Age in Mississippi, Breach of Peace, We Shall Not Be Moved, and the new illustrated kid’s books about her life, She Stood For Freedom. She has appeared on television and news programs like the CBS Nightly News. And her story and experiences were highlighted award-winning documentaries including An Ordinary Hero, PBS’s Freedom Riders, Standing on My Sister’s Shoulders and the groundbreaking film Eyes on the Prize

She has received numerous awards and recognition for her work in the Civil Rights Movement. Most recently she was recognized, along with other female Freedom Riders, by President Barack Obama, received Delta Sigma Theta, Inc.’s Annual Award of Honor, the Anti-Defamation League Annual Heroes Against Hate Award, and a resolution was passed by her home state of Virginia recognizing her life-long achievements and contributions.

Articles about Joan have appeared in numerous publications: USA Today, Washington Post, Ebony Magazine, Washington Times, and the Clarion-Ledger

She is a sought after speaker having presented at major universities, charitable events, government organizations, the U.S. Congressional Luncheon, and the United Nations.