How the Conference “Works”
Large Group Sessions
There are two large group sessions: a plenary on Friday evening (a conversation with an esteemed group of immigration advocates and activists from West Virginia) and a general session on Saturday morning (an overview of mass incarceration in WV given by Ted Boettner, Executive Director of WV Center on Budget and Policy).
Each session is structured differently, depending on the topic and presenters. All are intended to be informal spaces that encourage conversation and interaction. On Saturday there will be four or five sessions running concurrently. This means you may have a hard time choosing which session to attend, and each session could have 30–40 participants. Although we strive for informality and don’t, for example, have people pre-register for any of the breakout sessions, please take into account of the number of people in the room when you show up for any given session. If it looks packed, consider sitting in on a different session that interests you.
A light dinner will be provided on Friday and lunch will be provided on Saturday. Saturday breakfast and dinner are on your own. We recommend continental breakfast for those who are traveling to the summit. Ample time between the closing of the summit at 5:00 PM and Troy Williams’ keynote at West Virginia State University at 7:30 PM is provided for dinner. Please plan accordingly.
Friday, November 30
BridgeValley Community & Technical College, Toyota Hall
South Charleston, WV
4:00 PM Registration opens; Light dinner provided
5:00 PM Opening Remarks & Introduction
5:15 PM Evening Session
Immigrant Voices in WV: Panel and Discussion
Immigrants face legal and social pressures. This workshop will address some of the myths about immigration and the immigration system. It will also discuss the unique challenges immigrants in West Virginia face and their needs.
Moderator: Joseph Cohen, Executive Director of ACLU-WV
Jackie Lozano, West Virginian DACA Recipient
Nahla Nimeh-Lewis, Syrian Immigrant and Charleston Area Civil Rights Activist
Dominique Villasenor, Student Leader at West Virginia University
6:45 PM Break
7:00 PM Opening Keynote
Ash-Lee Henderson, Co-Executive Director of the Highlander Research & Education Center
Saturday, December 1
BridgeValley Community & Technical College, Toyota Hall
South Charleston, WV
8:45 AM Opening Morning Session
An Overview of Mass Incarceration in WV: How to counter demographic trends in prison and jail population growth
The goal of this workshop is threefold: first, to give an overview of demographic trends in the growth of the prison and jail population in West Virginia. Second, it will explore the question of what is driving the growth in the criminal justice system. Lastly, the participants will workshop best practices and policy options for how to deal with this issue.
Presenter: Ted Boettner, Executive Director of WV Center on Budget and Policy
10:00 AM Breakout Sessions
So You Think You’re an Ally?
Participants will gain skills in naming and planning ways to use power and privilege to challenge racism and increase the ability to effectively engage in racial justice issues as an ally.
Rachel Dash, WVU Medical School, Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry
Tonia Thomas, Co-Team Coordinator of the West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Appalachian Black Girl Magic Meet-up
Facilitators: CARE Youth Council and CARE staff
Drug Courts and the Opioid Crisis in West Virginia
FUN FACT: Even though black and white people commit crimes and use drugs at the same rate, black West Virginians make up roughly 1/3 of the prison population. Black men only account for 1.5-2% of the state population and make up a large part of that 33% of the jail and prison population. Why? The goal of this panel is to:
1. Provide an overview of drug courts and how they operate in AL vs. WV. What is working, and what isn’t working? Where do we need more resources?
2. Create a space for listing the pros and cons of drug courts, (e.g. racial disparities in who receives treatment vs. jail; is rehab a form of surveillance?)
3. Gain clarity about what would make drug courts better in response to the opioid crisis in WV, since we lead the country in overdose rates
4. Shed light on how there has been a shift of public perception of drug abuse (e.g. Crack/Cocaine sentencing vs. The Opioid Epidemic)
5. Ask the question: is drug addiction/substance abuse a public health issue or a criminal issue?
Presenter: Judge Shanta Owens, 10th Circuit Court Judge of Jefferson County Drug Court in Birmingham, Alabama
Ashir Coillberg, MPP, Policy Analyst and Social Justice Organizer
Ashley Bledsoe, Clinical Director for the Southwestern Regional Day Report Center
Judge Jennifer Bailey, 13th Circuit Judge of Kanawha County Drug Court in Charleston, West Virginia
Rico Moore Esq, Private Criminal Defense Attorney, Co-Founder of Triangle District Media Group
12:00 PM Lunch provided
1:00 PM Breakout Sessions
Uproot Racism Before it Grows: Rural Resistance to White Supremacy
An interactive popular education workshop about anti-racist and anti-fascist organizing in the hills, hollers, and valleys of Appalachia.
Facilitator: The Holler Network, a decentralized group of Appalachian organizers, artists, educators, farmers and healers working in Appalachia
Farming While Black: Uprooting Racism, Seeding Sovereignty
Some of our most cherished sustainable farming practices – from organic agriculture to the farm cooperative and the CSA – have roots in African wisdom. Yet, discrimination and violence against African-American farmers has led to our decline from 14 percent of all growers in 1920 to less than 2 percent today, with a corresponding loss of over 14 million acres of land. Further, Black communities suffer disproportionately from illnesses related to lack of access to fresh food and healthy natural ecosystems. Soul Fire Farm is committed to ending racism and injustice in our food system. Through programs such as the Black-Latinx Farmers Immersion, a sliding-scale farmshare CSA, and Youth Food Justice leadership training, Soul Fire Farm is part of a global network of farmers working to increase farmland stewardship by people of color, restore Afro-indigenous farming practices, and end food apartheid. And now, with the new book Farming While Black, Soul Fire Farm extends that work by offering the first comprehensive manual for African-heritage people ready to reclaim our rightful place of dignified agency in the food system. Join us to learn how you too can be part of the movement for food sovereignty and help build a food system based on justice, dignity, and abundance for all members of our community.
Facilitator: Amani Olugbala, Assistant Director of Programs at Soul Fire Farm
Community Wealth: Shared Ownership as a Power Tool
One defining feature of racial injustice is the extraction of wealth and resources from communities of color. For any sort of new economy to be just, wealth needs to be returned to black communities in a reparative way. One way of reversing the flow of resources back into our communities is to build shared ownership in business enterprises and community assets. This workshop will delve into shared ownership models such as cooperative businesses. We will discuss how cooperative businesses and other shared ownership models work and why they can help address systemic issues such as racialized poverty. We will review their historical use in minority and low-income communities as a powerful economic development tool, and then discuss modern examples of shared ownership models. The workshop will close with an activity where groups will pick an issue they would like to solve, and we will build an enterprise to tackle that issue.
Brandon Nida, PhD, Project Officer, Cooperation Central Appalachia
Mavery Davis, CPA, Director of Financial Literacy Bootcamp and Project Officer, Cooperation Central Appalachia
A Health and Equity Conversation: Defining Disparities and What it Means for Communities of Color in West Virginia
A discussion focused on race and racism as it relates to health and equity in communities of color in West Virginia in an effort to develop innovative, challenging, and thoughtful ways to health beyond disparities. Dr. Andress explains, “A Black infant in West Virginia is 1.7 times more likely to die before their first birthday,” as compared to a white infant. “African Americans make up almost 4% of the total population in the state of West Virginia.” Is equity in healthcare urgent? This workshop will lead the audience toward an understanding of disparities based on data, historical evidence, and value-based arguments to determine whether we have a problem that should be further investigated, and define who has a responsibility to investigate this problem.
Presenter: Dr. Lauri Andress, PhD, JD, Assistant Professor, Department of Health Policy, Management, and Leadership, West Virginia University
Ex-offender Roundtable with Troy Williams
3:00 PM Breakout Sessions
Art as Resistance
Using art (even if you aren’t artistic) as a form of resistance, education and advocacy; How to create and execute impactful messages through accessible art.
Facilitator: Ótaés, Member of the vocal and justice-seeking Ramapough Lenape Nation
Surviving as Millennials of Color in the Public, Private, and Nonprofit Sectors in West Virginia
Moderator: Stacy Oden, YWCA Racial Justice Program Coordinator
Angelica Armstrong, Vice President of the Social Media Association of West Virginia and serves on the Marketing Committee for Habitat for Humanity
Chela Barajas, Co-Founder of Holler Health Justice and Kaleidoscope WV
Jamecia James, Student Advocacy and Success Coordinator at Marshall University
Rodney Robinson, Young Child Wellness Coordinator, Project LAUNCH
Takeiya Smith, Former co-chair of Call to Action for Racial Equality
Community Justice: Restorative Justice and Circle Process
How do we prevent harm from happening in our communities and how do we address it when it occurs? With a liberatory framework, this workshop will look at restorative justice circles as one tool to support and build community through a process that attempts to shift the concentration of power from the individual towards the collective.
Facilitator: Ashlee George, Associate Director of Impact Justice’s Restorative
Saturday Evening, December 1
Closing Keynote Address
West Virginia State University, Ferrell Hall Auditorium
6:00 PM Doors Open
7:30 PM Closing Keynote
Troy Williams, Program Coordinator for R.I.S.E. scholars program at Chabot College, Founder of the San Quentin Prison Report, and 2018 Soros Justice Fellow