2021: The People’s Gathering (Spring Virtual Convening)

Anti-Racism, Advancement, Advocacy: What Is It AND How Do We Engage?

For every step we take toward justice, the construct of race and systems of racism continue to block our progress. In a few short weeks, one year will have passed since George Floyd (a Black man) was murdered with a knee on his neck by a (white) Minneapolis police officer. Closer to home, it has been more than one year since Tacoma police murdered Manny Ellis (a Black man), whose case remains unresolved. Just a few months ago, the Seattle police department gained national attention for its excessive use of force in crowd control during the Black Lives Matter protests. And in most recent news, violence against Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders is rising rapidly. Also, let us not forget the recent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by those claiming to be patriots while attempting to impede the certification of a lawful election. Most of those domestic terrorists walked free, shielded by their whiteness.

Undergirding each of these cases is the murky and messy issue of individual and systemic racism and how we may be impacted by and/or implicated in both. It’s a conversation most people avoid. Yet, the conversation must be had as part of imagining and creating a more just society.

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Spring 2021: Featured Speakers

Carmen Best

Carmen Best worked for the Seattle Police Department for 28 years. She served in a wide range of positions, including school safety, media relations supervisor, operations lieutenant, assistant chief in the criminal investigation bureau, and interim police chief. In August 2018, she was promoted to Chief of Police. She simultaneously became the 1st African American woman to hold that rank within SPD. She resigned her position effective September 2020 after the Seattle City Council voted to cut police department funding.

Best’s rise and survival within the law enforcement system is a social justice case to examine. She will share her insight on the conference theme through the lenses of her multiple social identities, including being Black, woman, veteran, community servant, and — a top “cop.” Best currently manages a global security account spanning five continents and is a contributor for MSNBC and KING 5 News as a Police Policy Expert

Sakara Remmu

Sakara Remmu is the Founder and Lead Strategist for the Washington Black Lives Matter Alliance, a statewide advocacy coalition for racial equity and also the founder of Washington Voters for Black Lives Matter. She is a diversity, inclusion, and equity professional and organizational strategies consultant with more than 20 years of experience in equity and root cause analysis, strategic planning, project management, human resources consulting, as well as curriculum development and training facilitation.

Distinctly focused on integration of sustainable and data-driven solutions, Sakara has built a skill set translating the theory of diversity, inclusion, and equity into practice, working with a wide array of professionals and companies in traditional and non-traditional fields, including human services, civil rights, law enforcement, post-secondary education, engineering, public health, construction, and the government sector. She is often called upon by elected and appointed leaders to advise or consult on existing and emerging incidents and issues. She is adept at building diverse coalitions, identifying ways to maximize existing resources to fuel new and lasting solutions, and negotiating mutually beneficial agreements with partners while maintaining and broadening client outcomes.

Dr. Karen Johnson

Karen A. Johnson, Ph.D., has been appointed by Governor Jay Inslee as the Director of the newly created state Office of Equity. The Office of Equity, established by the Legislature, was signed into law by Inslee in April of 2020. The office will work with agencies to increase access to equitable opportunities in order to bridge opportunity gaps and reduce disparities. The office will also work with communities to develop the state’s five-year equity plan.

“Karen brings extensive experience working to transform local and state government systems to more equitably serve Washingtonians,” said Inslee. “She has oriented her entire career around helping disadvantaged communities and instituting lasting systemic and institutional change for generations to come. I have every confidence that she will be an excellent, effective director. I am looking forward to working with her collaboratively to ensure that our state is one that supports all Washingtonians. The Office of Equity is an exciting opportunity to reframe how state government works.”

Justice G. Helen Whitener

The Hon. G. Helen Whitener, Justice, was appointed to the Washington State Supreme Court in April 2020 and she was elected by the voters to retain her position on the State Supreme Court in November 2020.

Justice Whitener is well recognized by the legal community for her commitment to justice and equity. Prior to her appointment to Washington State’s highest court, Justice Whitener served as a Pierce County Superior Court judge. Justice Whitener also served as a judge on the Washington State Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals and as a pro-tem judge in Pierce County District Court and the City of Tacoma Municipal Court.

Justice Whitener is the first Black woman to serve on the Washington Supreme Court, the fourth immigrant-born Justice and the first Black LGBT judge in the State of Washington.

Justice Whitener earned her B.A. degree in Business Administration and International Marketing from Baruch College, New York, and received her J.D. degree from Seattle University School of Law. Justice Whitener lives in Pierce County with her wife, attorney Lynn Rainey (CSM-US Army Ret).

2020: The People’s Gathering (Fall Virtual Convening)

The People's Gathering 2020

2020: Pre-Recorded Welcome and Discussion

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal opened the fall convening of The People’s Gathering conference in a recorded discussion with Melannie Denise Cunningham, TPG Convener, about the aftermath of the 2020 U.S. election results and what citizens can do to promote unity and healing amount and within our diverse communities.

Congresswoman Jayapal is a member of the House Judiciary Committee, where she serves as Vice Chair of the Immigration Subcommittee, and on the House Education & Labor and Budget Committees. She is also the elected Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus; Chair fo the Congressional Asian Pacific Caucus; and a Vice Chair of the Congressional LGBTQ Equality Caucus.

Elected in 2016, Congresswoman Jayapal is serving her second term in Congress representing Washington’s 7th District, which encompasses most of Seattle and its surrounding areas. She is the first South Asian American woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and one of the fourteen naturalized citizens currently serving in the United States Congress.

Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland

Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland is an American politician and businesswoman who is the U.S. Representative-elect for Washington State’s 10th congressional district. She will begin her first term on January 3, 2021. Strickland previously served as the 38th Mayor of Tacoma from 2010 to 2018. She will be the first member of the United States Congress who is of both Korean and African American heritage

2019: The People's Gathering

The People's Gathering 2019

2019: Featured Speakers

Dr. Kathy Obear

A successful author of three books (…But I’m Not Racist!Turning the TideIn It For the Long Haul) with over 30 years of experience specializing in conflict resolution, change management, and creating inclusive environments, Dr. Kathy Obear is a leading expert in helping to establish socially just environments where everyone feels valued and respected.

As the founder of The Center for Transformation and Change, Kathy has given speeches, facilitated training sessions, and consulted to top leaders at hundreds of universities, human services organizations, and corporations across the United States and internationally with a goal to increase the passion, competence, and commitment to create inclusive, socially just environments for all members of the organization.

Kathy is a Co-Founder of the Social Justice Training Institute (www.sjti.org). For 20 years, she and her colleagues have helped over 3,000 people deepen their capacity to be effective organizational change agents and to create greater racial and social justice.

Dr. Maria Chávez

Dr. Maria Chávez is an Associate Professor and the Chair of the Political Science department at Pacific Lutheran University.  She is the author or co-author of four books. The first, Everyday Injustice: Latino Professionals and Racism (2011) won the prestigious American Political Science Association’s Latino Caucus Best Book Award in Latino Politics published in 2011.  She is lead co-author of Living the Dream: New Immigration Policies and the Lives of Undocumented Latino Youth (2015) and co-editor of Latino Peoples in the New America: Racialization and Resistance (2019).  Her new book, Latino Professionals in America: Testimonios of Policy, Perseverance, and Success is scheduled for publication in May (Routledge, 2019).  She has also published many peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, newspaper editorials, and blogs regularly for www.racismreview.com.

Dr. Chávez’s work centers on the progress and barriers of Latinos in American society. Specifically, her research is focused on the political and social incorporation of Latinos in various locations and circumstances ranging from vulnerable undocumented Latinos living in the shadows to successful Latino professionals.

Among her academic laurels, Dr. Chávez was awarded the American Political Science Association’s Centennial Grant Award in 2016 and APSA’s Small Research Grant Award in 2015. She has served as a fellow for the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute and was the recipient of the Washington State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Award for her research on Latino lawyers. While a doctoral student, she received the Washington State University President’s Award for Student Leadership for her work mentoring undergraduate Latino students.

2018: The People's Gathering

2018: Featured Speakers

Dr. Shakti Butler
Dr. Shakti Butler

Filmmaker, CEO World Trust, Inc.

Shakti Butler, Ph.D, filmmaker, and Founder & President of World Trust, is a dynamic educator in the field of diversity and racial equity. She is a multiracial African-American woman (African, Arawak Indian, and Russian-Jewish) whose work as a creative and visionary bridge builder has challenged and inspired learning for over two decades.

She is the producer and director of groundbreaking documentaries including The Way HomeMirrors of Privilege: Making Whiteness Visible, and Light in the Shadows. Her newest film, Healing Justice, addresses trauma, justice and healing and asks America to talk about the causes and consequences of our current system of justice.  She will be presenting Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity, which uses story, theater and music to illuminate the larger frame of structural/systemic racial inequity.

Jewel Diamond Taylor
Jewel Diamond Taylor

“The Self-Esteem Doctor”

In the late 1980s, Taylor was one of the first women of color to become a national and international motivational speaker.

She has made presentations for the Pentagon and in prisons, for corporate America and on college campuses, and for community groups and on military bases. Taylor is the author of seven books, an ordained elder in her church, founder of Women on the Grow Ministry, and a frequent radio guest. She is tasked with keeping the conference agenda flowing and the energy positive.

Alana R. Simmons
Alana R. Simmons

Hate Won’t Win

Alana Simmons is the granddaughter of Rev. Daniel Simmons, one of the nine members of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, who were killed as an intentional act of hate on June 17, 2015. She heads the national non-profit organization “Hate Won’t Win”, which promotes acts of forgiveness and gives voice to the message that love is stronger than hate. Alana will update the gathering on the Hate Won’t Win Movement.