Keynote Speaker: Van Lathan
Welcome: Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome
Sharon Weston Broome was sworn in as the Mayor-President of
the City of Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish on January 2, 2017. She is
the first woman to be elected as the leader of the capital city of Louisiana.
Since the campaign trail, her focus has been to unite the citizenry around the
common goals of equality in education, economic development, justice, housing and
other quality ways of life. During her first year in office, she focused many
of her efforts on flood recovery, economic development, public safety, and
traffic remediation. The administration continues to focus on these issues and
others that affect the community, and continuously acts on feedback from
residents of the parish.
Prior to her current post, Broome served as a Baton Rouge Metro Council Member; Louisiana State Representative (District 29); and Louisiana State Senator (District 15). While in the legislature, she became the first woman to be elected by her peers as Speaker Pro Tempore and President Pro Tempore of the House and Senate. She holds a B.A. in Mass Communication from the University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse and an M.A. in Communications from Regent University. Broome has served as an adjunct instructor at the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge Community College, and Southern University. In addition, she was a reporter for five years for WBRZ-TV, the Baton Rouge ABC affiliate.
Moderated (Brunch) Talk: Maxine Crump
Maxine Crump is the CEO of Dialogue on Race Louisiana. She attended Louisiana State University where she became the first African American to live in women’s housing. Her career spanned from working in news, public relations, and media development. She worked as the first woman DJ at WXOK AM, first black DJ at WFMF FM radio, and later as the first black reporter at WAFB TV. She has received more than a dozen awards from various organizations honoring her for her work around race and the elimination of racism.
Crump's volunteer leadership on the YWCA Board of Directors where she participated in the national YWCA racial justice training program lead to her development of The Dialogue on Race Original Series program. That program ultimately lead to the development of the Dialogue on Race Louisiana organization. In 2015, she delivered a TEDxLSU talk titled, “Why not talk about race?”. In early 2016 she learned she was a descendant of enslaved people owned and sold to Louisiana in an 1838 sale by Georgetown University. This is how she came to be born in Louisiana.
Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton is a mother, wife, educator, and the Poet Laureate of Houston, Texas. This seven-time National Poetry Slam competitor and head coach of the Houston VIP Poetry Slam team has been ranked the second best female poet in the world. Her work has appeared in Black Girl Magic (Haymarket Books) and Houston Noir (Akashic Books), The Houston Chronicle, and on such platforms as BBC, ABC, Blavity, Tedx and Upworthy. Mouton will facilitate a workshop on centering the Black narrative through art.
Michael “Quess?” Moore aka A Scribe Called Quess? is a poet, educator, actor, playwright, activist, and organizer. In 2015, he co-founded Take Em Down NOLA, a coalition dedicated to the removal of white supremacist monuments in New Orleans. For his contributions to the Take Em Down NOLA work, he was awarded the 2017 Urban League Courage Award. He has been featured in The New York Times, Trinidad & Tobago’s Kwame Toure Lecture Series, and several other platforms. He will facilitate a workshop on bridging the divide between digital and real world activism.
Panel Moderator: Gerri Hobdy
Gerri Hobdy is principal consultant of Pleroma LLC and the Director of Community Relations for Baton Rouge Community College, where she works with representatives from non-profits, business industry and community to create partnerships for the college. Hobdy has 25 years of nonprofit experience in management, fundraising, grant-making, and non-profit capacity building. She is an alumna of Dillard University and received her M.A. from the University of New Orleans.
Prior to her current position, she served as the Director of Community Relations for the Baton Rouge Area Foundation (BRAF) in Louisiana. In overseeing grants made by the Foundation, Hobdy worked closely with non-profits to assess their impact and leverage community assets. She assisted donors in identifying organizations that aligned with their charitable goals, and managed regional Foundation initiatives. After Hurricane Katrina, Hobdy was deeply involved in coordinating funding for the nonprofit sector’s disaster response and recovery. This work included hurricanes Rita, Gustav, Ike and the BP oil spill. She managed all the competitive grant-making programs and scholarships at BRAF. She also sat on the Gulf Coast Restoration & Protection Foundation Board, which was responsible for administering $100 million from BP for individuals working on deepwater rigs that experienced loss as a result of the drilling moratorium. While at the Foundation, Hobdy created the Local Funders Circle - a local collaborative of Foundation, corporate, and public funders. She also created the Foundation’s Baton Rouge Development Fellow’s Program in a partnership with the Louisiana Association of Non Profit Organizations and the local chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) to assist in the sustainability of area non profits.
Janene Tate is the director of communications for the Southern University and A&M College System, the only Historically Black College and Universities (HBCU) system in the nation. Her department is responsible for overall branding, marketing, public relations and communications, with an emphasis on the System and flagship campus is Baton Rouge. Tate was previously the communications director for the Office of Mayor Sharon Weston Broome, the city of Baton Rouge’s first African American female mayor.
Mwende "FreeQuency" Katwiwa is an award winning & internationally touring Queer immigrant poet, storyteller and workshop leader living and loving in New Orleans, LA. They are the 2018 Women of the World Poetry Slam Champion, a 2017 TEDWomen speaker and placed 3rd at the 2015 Individual World Poetry Slam. FreeQuency's work focuses on storytelling, truth-telling and writing as acts of resistance, communication and healing. Her work has been featured in sThe New York Time, the HuffPost, Okay Africa, Everyday Feminism, Teen Vogue & other outlets, and she has performed on stages from open mics to the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. In addition to her poetry, her activism and organizing work in The Movement for Black Lives with BYP100 and Reproductive Justice with Women With A Vision, Inc have received local and national recognition, she co-runs an African culture and fashion blog at Noirlinians.com and is the coordinator of the New Orleans Youth Poetry Festival and a committee member of the New Orleans Youth Open Mic.
Abraham Felix is an award-winning independent film director. His background in writing and editing for print and television birthed his passion for visual storytelling. Across medium and genre, his work explores humanity and race with a thoughtful eye for detail. His recently completed debut narrative short film "Jane" is on a festival run, and he is in post-production on his sci-fi second short film "After Them." It is slated for completion late 2018.
Ada Goodly is a native of southwest Louisiana and a 14 year veteran of the Army Reserves. She received her bachelors degree in International Studies from Louisiana State University where she became a student organizer for diversity & equality and served as the President of the Black Student Union. Ada graduated third in her class from THE Southern University Law Center. She served as President of the SULC Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, Treasurer of the State Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, advisor of the Baton Rouge Bail Fund, founder of the SULC Pillar Awards, and was a Legal Fellow of the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project.
She's the creator of the INPOWER "Know Your Rights Initiative" and a movement lawyer who teaches protester rights and provides legal advocacy, strategy and support for community organizers. She is the legal advisor and consultant for the Alton Sterling Foundation. She is the mother of one beautiful Black boy who inspires her to continue bringing awareness and fighting for social justice for all children of color.
Toi the Poetic Beauty, whose real name is LaToya Jackson Sibley, was born in Alexandria, La. to Brian and Stephanie Jackson. She realized that she had a love for poetry at age 9 and has written countless poems, plays, and even three unpublished books before the age of 16. Toi would be taken away from her craft for almost 15 years when she accidentally threw away all her life's work. However, with the rise of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, it encouraged her to pick up her "antibiotic" to heal herself. Over the past two years, Toi has performed on countless stages from across the south including parts of Louisiana and Texas. She competed in Baton Rouge's qualifying slams for the Poetry Slam Inc. events Women of the World Poetry Slam and IWPS. She considers featuring at Baton Rouge's longest running open mic and slam to be among her highest honors to date. Toi resides in Baton Rouge with her husband of 17 years, Brent Sibley, Sr. and their two children, Brent Jr. and Trista, where she is an educator. She hopes that her words will immortalize her and that they resonate throughout the world.
Howard Hall is a comedian who has more than 200,000 views on social media and an online fan base of nearly 30,000. With his family driven comedy, he has been able to appeal to a broad demographic range. Over the past 11 years, the Baton Rouge native has appeared in several commercials, films, and plays, including “All the Women I've Loved”, which was released via Redbox and available at various Walmart locations. He also starred as Harpo in the completely sold out New Venture Theatre production of “The Color Purple" (2012). Howard went on to do a College Comedy Tour that hit over 40 campuses spanning 15 states. He was a featured performer on the Tom Joyner Fantastic Voyage cruise, and later for the Tom Joyner Family Reunion. He has opened comedy shows for legends such as Ricky Smiley, Cedric the Entertainer, and Kevin Hart. While he continues to perform comedy, he now also works as an on-air personality for WEMX Max 94.1.
A staple in the New Orleans Hip Hop community, Truth Universal has been a leader on the southern Hip Hop scene for more than a decade. While he calls the flourishing New Orleans Hip Hop underground home, Truth has an international perspective that he brings to his music through his birth and childhood in Diego Martin, Trinidad. Truth's recordings, replete with social commentary, resonate with a diverse array of audiences. Truth has performed in venues across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico and has shared stages with Talib Kweli, dead prez, Mos Def, The Roots, Alanis Morrissette, Michael Franti, Immortal Technique, Luciano, Zion I, and many more.Truth was founder, host and curator of the Underground/Independent showcase series "GRASSROOTS!" Hip Hop Showcase which was established in 2002, and lasted 12 years. Firmly rooted in New Orleans' activist community, Truth has worked with the Coalition to Free the Angola 3, Critical Resistance, The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, and on many campaigns with various unnamed community groups and individuals.