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Social justice activists to discuss legacies of 1968

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Pictured from left to right, Johnny Parham, Adelina Nicholls, Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson and Maria Gitin are part of an intergenerational lineup of social activists discussing the lessons of 1968 in “Social Protest and Social Justice: A Conversation Across Generations,” set for Oct. 17 in Cannon Chapel.

An intergenerational lineup of social activists will discuss the legacies of 1968 in “Social Protest and Social Justice: A Conversation Across Generations,” set for Wednesday, Oct. 17, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Cannon Chapel sanctuary on Emory’s campus.

Presented by the Laney Program in Moral Leadership at Emory’s Candler School of Theology, the event is free and open to the public, with registration required. Register here. The lecture is part of the Laney Program in Moral Leadership’s fall series, “1968: Lessons from Fifty Years of Change,” which also includes a sold-out lecture by scholar, writer and activist Angela Davis.

Award-winning radio journalist Rose Scott, host of “Closer Look” on Atlanta’s National Public Radio station WABE, will moderate the “Social Protest and Social Justice” discussion. Participating panelists are:

• Maria Gitin, national development consultant and diversity trainer

Maria Gitin spent the summer of 1965 volunteering with the Summer Community Organizing and Political Education (SCOPE), a project of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). She attended an intensive SCLC civil rights “boot camp” at Morris Brown College in Atlanta along with 600 other college students and activists, and canvassed for voters in Wilcox County, Alabama.

During her 30-year career, Gitin co-led national Diversity in Fundraising training and consulted on numerous capital campaigns for organizations serving underfunded constituents, including Native Americans, Latinos, African Americans, the LGBTQ community and women. She is the author of “This Bright Light of Ours: Stories from the Voting Rights Fight” (University of Alabama Press, 2014). Gitin has received numerous awards and proclamations for her lifetime commitment to civil rights and social justice, including from the YWCA, NAACP, the states of Alabama and California, and the United States Congress.

• Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson, Highlander Research and Education Center co-executive director 

Ash-Lee Woodard is the first black woman to hold the title of executive director at the Highlander Research and Education Center in Tennessee, which serves as a catalyst for grassroots organizing and movement building in Appalachia and the South. She works around issues of mountaintop removal mining and environmental racism in central and southern Appalachia, and has served on the National Council of the Student Environmental Action Coalition.

She is an active participant in the Movement for Black Lives, a member of the board of directors for the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity and serves on the governance council of the Southern Movement Assembly.

• Adelina Nicholls, executive director of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights

Adelina Nicholls leads the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR), which develops grassroots leaders and organizations within Georgia’s Latino immigrant communities in order to defend and advance Latinos' civil and human rights. In 2001, Nicholls co-founded and served as president of the Coordinating Council of Latino Community Leaders of Atlanta, the organization out of which GLAHR grew.

She has received numerous awards for her work in community organizing and human rights, including the ACLU Georgia Civil and Human Rights Award (2008) and Mundo Hispánico’s Best Organization of the Year (2013).

• Johnny Parham, retired executive director of the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund

The Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund (TMSF) is a national nonprofit that awards four-year merit scholarships to students attending historically black public colleges and universities. Parham also served as vice president of the United Negro College Fund, and executive director of the Medical Committee for Human Rights (MCHR). The Medical Committee for Human Rights was the medical arm of the Civil Rights Movement, and a critical component of Mississippi Summer, working alongside the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), and other organizations.

As a student at Atlanta University, Parham helped plan and participating in desegregating public accommodations in the city of Atlanta. The Atlanta Student Movement is credited with mobilizing students from Morehouse, Spelman, Clark and Morris Brown Colleges, Interdenominational Theological Center and Atlanta University to challenge Georgia’s system of legal racial segregation.

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