Diane Fraher

Diane Fraher (Osage/Cherokee) is the writer and director of The Heart Stays.  She writes and directs narrative feature films about contemporary Native Americans.   In her words, her films “explore the struggle of Native Americans to identify with traditional values within the context of modern society.”  Ms. Fraher  is one of the pioneer Native artists who formed the New York Movement in Contemporary Native Arts (1972-Present), the only such documented Native American arts movement in the United States, outside of Santa Fe, NM.  Her first feature-length narrative film, The Reawakening, was the first feature film written and directed by a Native woman and wholly produced by Native people.   Ms. Fraher has received fellowships and individual artist grant awards for her work from ABC New Talent Development Program, Jerome Foundation, National Geographic All Roads Film Project, New York State Council on the Arts-Individual Artist Program, Osage Nation Foundation, Paul Robeson Fund for Independent Media, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation and The Yip Harburg Foundation. Diane Fraher is a 2013 Fellow in Screenwriting from the New York Foundation for the Arts.

In 1987, Ms. Fraher founded American Indian Artists Inc., (AMERINDA) New York, NY, a community based multi-arts organization which provides programs and services to emerging and established Native American artists. AMERINDA is the only organization of its kind for Native American artists in the United States.




Ademola Olugebefola is a noted contemporary artist whose work has been shown in hundreds of major exhibitions at American museums, cultural centers and universities here and abroad. His distinctive art and career references are noted in thousands of books, catalogs, periodicals, videos, media articles, journals, and prominent public archives i.e. ( Ademola Olugebefola Papers Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture)and global private archival collections while extensively noted on the internet, YouTube and social media.

His innovations in theatre scenic and graphic design has earned kudos from prominent directors, producers and playwrights Ed Bullins, Woodie King Jr, Passion, Robert MacBeth, Rudy Shaw, Joe Papp, Barbara Ann Teer, Voza Rivers, Sonia Sanchez and the late Amiri Baraka among others. Recently creating the scenic design for the Off Broadway revival of Ed Bullin’s “The Fabulous Miss Marie” at Castillo Theater, It was his fourth set design commission from New Federal Theatre since 2006. As the recipient of the distinguished AUDELCO Board of Directors Award for Longstanding Contribution to Black Theatre and the HARLEM WEEK 30th Anniversary ‘Artistic Genius Award’ , has established  Ademola as a icon of Harlem’s cultural legacy of artistic excellence.

 In the contemporary history of Harlem institutions: He’s one of the founders of theAnnual Harlem Arts Festival 1965 – 1975 (predecessor of Harlem Week); The House ofUmoja Cultural Exchange; the WEUSI Artist Collective/ Academy of African Arts & Studies; Nyumba Ya Sanaa Gallery; HARLEM WEEK; Benin Gallery; Grinnell Gallery; NY Chapter National Conference of Artists; Annual Kwanzaa  Expo at the NY Javits Convention Center; The National Arts Consortium; Gumbs & Thomas Publishers and theHarlem Arts Alliance.

As a community civic advocate he has served on the Boards of The Harlem Cultural Council; Harlem Health Promotions Center / Columbia University; Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop; The Adam Clayton Powell, Jr Memorial and Educational Committee ( Purveyors of the monumental sculpture on the corner of 125th St. and ACP Boulevard) and the pioneering media organization International Communications Association.  

Ademola is one of the founders of the Dwyer Cultural Center in Harlem. And forthe past six years Dr. Olugebefola has also represented the NY Metro M.L. King, Jr Center for Nonviolence NGO/DPI at the United Nations. His art is currently published in the catalog of a major exhibition “WITNESS: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties”,on view at the Brooklyn Museum till July 6, 2014 then will travel to two major American museums thru spring 2015.


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John Kuo Wei (Jack) Tchen is a historian, curator, and writer. Professor Tchen is founding director of the A/P/A (Asian/Pacific /American) Studies Program and Institute at New York University, NYU and a founding faculty of the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis. He co-founded the Museum of Chinese in America in 1979-80 where he continues to serve as senior historian. Jack has just completed a critical archival study of images, excerpts and essays on the history and contemporary impact of “Yellow Peril” paranoia and xenophobia (Verso, Feb. 2014). He served as the senior historian for a New-York Historical Society exhibition on the impact of Chinese Exclusion Laws on the formation of the US. He is currently working on a two hour “The American Experience” PBS documentary with Ric Burns and Lishin Yu on Chinese Exclusion. He is also working on a series of exhibit, conferences, and performances retelling US history from the lens of scientific racism and eugenics “sorting” hierarchies.




Dindga McCannon is a multimedia, mixed media visual artist. Her artcareer started at age 17, when she joined the Weusi Artists in 1965. (She remains a member to this day.) In 1971, Dindga McCannon,  thelate Kay Brown and  Faith Ringgold founded ‘Where We At, Black Women Artists’ the first African American Womens Artist collective. The group lasted for 25 years.

Ms. McCannon has exhibited worldwide including the American Craft Museum, the Schomberg Library in Harlem, the Dwyer Cultural Center,the Folk Art Museum, the Renwick Gallery at the Smithsonian, the African-American of Nassau County and more.

Her artwork is in the collections of the Johnson Publication Co,. theStudio Museum in Harlem Permanent Collection, Proctor and Gamble Co., and the Brooklyn Museum.




Felipe Luciano a member of the Original Last Poets, Chairman and co-founder of Young Lords Party, first  Puerto Rican to produce a popular English speaking Latin music show on WRVR FM, first Puerto Rican dee-jay on WBLS under Frankie Crocker, first Puerto Rican anchorman for WNBC Ch.4, two time Emmy Award winner, recent graduate of Union Theological Seminary with Masters in Theology and Social Justice  and currently Director of Communications for the City of Newark under Mayor Ras Baraka.



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Néstor Otero was born in Caguas, Puerto Rico . A multidisciplinary artist, he studied design, graphics, and painting with social realist painter, Luis German Cajigas in Puerto Rico as a youth and was the recipient of a Gold Medal for Painting by El Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico in 1961. He was awarded the St. Gaudens Medal for Fine Draughtsmanhsip by the City of New York in 1965 and studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology and illustration and painting with Marshall Arisman and Frank Roth at the Schoolof Visual Arts in New York City.  He was the recipient of Visual Arts Grants from the New York State Council on the Arts for 1985 and 1987 and was a two time Nominee for the Manhattan Borough Presidents: Artist of the Year Award. He received Honor and Merit Distinctions from the Mayors’ Office ofthe City of New York and the Queens’ Borough Presidents’ Office.

In Puerto Rico he was granted the Premio al Mérito from the Fondo Nacional para el Financiamiento del Quehacer Cultural of the National Endowment forthe Arts on two occasions and the Beca del Fondo Permanente para las Artesfor his representation in the 23 Bienal de Sao Paolo, Brazil in 1997. He was also granted a Resolution by the Puerto Rico Senate for distinguished participation in Sao Paolo – also  receiving two AICA Awards for this participation and for the catalog design. This year he was the recipient of anArtist Grant from the Fondo Puertorriqueño para el quehacer cultural of theInstituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña.

He participated in the 23 Bienal de Sao Paolo, Brazil; the V and IX  Bienal Internacional de Pintura de Cuenca, Ecuador; the 2da Bienal de Pintura del Caribe y Centroamerica of the República Dominicana receiving a Gold Medal; Mexico’s IX Bienal Iberoamericana de Arte and his Native Puerto Rico’s Muestra de Arte Puertorriqueño. Invited to participate in INSIDE: TheProjectgroup STOFFWECHSEL” in Kassel, Germany in 1997 and Carivista,the first encounter of Caribbena Artists on the island of Barbados in 1998. In 1999 is included in the iterant exhibition La vida urbana en la región del Caribe, sponsored by the Organization of European Countries. Represented Puerto Rico at the Grands et jeunes d’aujord’hui at the Espace Eiffel-Branly in Paris, France and the Bienal de la Habana in Cuba in 2000.  In 2001 he participated in El Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico’s El Arte en Puerto Rico a traves del tiempo, the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña’s Muestra Nacional and the Bienal de San Juan del Grabado Latinoamericano y del Caribe, receiving an Honorable Mention. In 2003 he presented SITU, a solo exhibitionof his digital work at the Taller Boricua in the Centro Cultural Julia de Burgos in New York. In 2007 he was included in the historical exhibition Contexto puertorriqueño: del rococó colonial al arte global at the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico. In 2004 participates in the Trienal Poligráfica de San Juan: America Latina y El Caribe. Invited in 2005 to participate in the IV Salón de Arte Digital de Maracaibo at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Zulia, Maczul, Venezuela, he receives an Honorable Mention. In 2010 he collaborated with Annex Burgos a public sculpture for the IV Bienal de Escultura en Concreto of Caguas in Puerto Rico. The result, ‘OYE”/Listen, an interactive audio sculpture in homage to the river Cagüitas. He was invited with theb artist Annex Burgos to represented Puerto Rico in the international invitational, Ya se leer at the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Wilfredo Lam in La Habana, Cuba. He has been invited to participated inthe Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña’s Muestra Nacional de Artes Plásticas from 2003, El Museo del Barrio, New York City Gallery, The Alternative Museum, EXIT Art, Kenkeleba House, the Hillwood Art Gallery at Long Island University’s C.W. Post Campus and the Museum of Contemporary Hispanic Arts(MoCHA), among others.

He was Co-founder and Executive Director of EVENTOS, Space for LivingArt, a multi-disciplinary, alternative space for the arts in New York City in the80’s. In 2002 he established together with the painter and sculptor Annex Burgos, the multidisciplinary design studio, zalto.multidisciplina+estrategia and it’s editorial arm Mandibula (focusing on artist’s editions).

As a New York Graphic Designer in the 70’s, he was Art Director at Scarlett Letters (the pioneer digital typehouse who’s clients included Pushpin Studios, Herb Lubalin and Ivan Chermayoff), the Visual Arts Research and Resource Center Relating to the Caribbean (later the Caribbean Cultural Center) and was a staff member of Andy Warhol’s Interview Magazine. Also designing publications and exhibtions for the The Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College, Hostos Culture & Arts Program  at Hostos College, Mayor’s Office of the City of New York, Long Island University, Museo del Barrio, Exit Art, The Bronx Museum, The Museum of Contemporary Hispanic Art, Bronx Council on the Arts and the theatre group Pregones.




Honored in 2010 by Governor David A. Paterson and the State of New York for his “legacy of leadership to the Asian American community and the Empire State,” Taiyo Na is a musician, writer, performer and educator. His critically acclaimed album Love is Growth (Issilah Productions, 2008) features the song “Lovely To Me (Immigrant Mother),” whose music video was heralded by MTV Iggy as “the realest thing seen in a while.” In 2010 & 2011, he released the albums Home:Word & Home:Word [Deluxe Edition] with hip-hop duo Magnetic North. The title track off those albums was released as a single in Japan in 2011 and hit #2 on their iTunes Hip-Hop charts, while the latter album reached #3. The albums included the music videos “Summertime,” “I Got My,” “Fukushima,” “New Love” and “Home:Word,” which was directed by Wong Fu Productions. Their song “All On The Table” with Robert de Boron hit #1 on Japan iTunes hip-hop charts in April 2013. He was seen as “Min” in Dennis Kim’s play Tree City Legends directed by Marc Bamuthi Joseph at San Francisco’s Intersection for the Arts and the Painted Bride Arts Center in Philadelphia (2012 & 2014).




Woodie King, Jr. is a founder and Producing Director of New Federal Theatre in New York City. His directional credits are extensive and include work in film as well as Broadway, Off-Broadway, and regional theater. In 1985, he was nominated for a Joseph Jefferson Award for BOSEMAN AND LENA and in 1987/88 season he won a NAACP Image Award for directing CHECKMATES at Inner City Cultural Center (Los Angeles). In 1988, he directed CHECKMATES, on Broadway in 1987. In 1987, he also directed Charles Dutton in SPLENDID MUMMER at American Place Theatre; in 1990, GOD’S TROMBONES at the Ford’s Theatre, and Joe Turner’s COME AND GONE at Detroit Rep. In 1991, he directed A RAISIN IN THE SUN and in 1992, he directed THE MEMBER OF THE WEDDING, both at GeVa. In 1993 he produced and directed Robert Johnson: TRICK THE DEVIL for which he won AUDELCO Awards as Best Director and Best

Play of the Year. He directed CHECKMATES at St. Louis Black Repertory Theatre. In 1994, he directed AND THE WORLD LAUGHS WITH YOU at Crossroads Theater Company in New Brunswick, NJ; MUDTRACKS by Regina Taylor at Ensemble Studio Theatre, and A RAISIN IN THE SUN, starring Esther Rolle and Kenny Leon, at The Alliance Theatre in Atlanta. In the 1996/97 season, he directed Joe Turner’s COME AND GONE and Samm-Art Williams’ HOME both at Brooklyn College. In the 1998/99 season, he directed ALI at the Crossroads Theatre and ANGELS IN AMERICA: MILLENNIUM APPROACHES and in 2010 MEN IN WHITE both at Ohio State University. He directed THE PIANO LESSON at Tennessee Repertory Theatre in Nashville and again at Seminole State College in 2012. Last year he also directed Lonette McKee in the critically acclaimed SOWA’S RED GRAVY. Woodie King, Jr. was a visiting professor at Oberlin College, Florida State University, and Ohio State University. In addition to directing at these universities, he has taught at Yale, Penn State, North Carolina A&T, Columbia, NYU, Hunter, and Brooklyn College School of Contemporary Studies. Mr. King is a Graduate of Will-O-Way School of Theatre in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan; Lehman College in New York; and received his MFA in Directing from Brooklyn College. Mr. King is the recipient of many awards, including the Paul Robeson Award; the Rosetta LeNoire Award; the TCG Award, an Obie Award for Sustained Achievement, and Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Wayne State University, an Honorary Doctorate from both John Jay College and Lehman College, and a Doctorate of Fine Arts from the College of Wooster. In 2012, he was inducted in the American Theatre Hall of Fame.



Kwame Brathwaite has been considered the ever-present “photo-documentarian” of the Black Cultural movement, the “keeper of the images.” While earning a living as a fashion and entertainment photographer, his primary interest has been the recording of the history of the African Cultural Revolution and the African liberation struggle. Co-founded the African Jazz-Art Society, 1956); The Grandassa Models (Black is Beautiful) 1961 and wearable art shows, AFRIMODA, FashionArt and FashioNations (1986).

Kwame’s photography business has taken him to over twenty countries in Africa, Europe and the Caribbean. His fashion and entertainment photography has kept him busy with high profile assignments for some of the top names in entertainment and fashion, including Beverly Johnson, Iman, Barbara Smith, Jerri Hall, Peggy Dillard, Cindy Crawford, Frederique, Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, Tyra Banks, Roshumba and many others. He also has had the honor of being selected by several heads of state to document their travels in the U.S., including President Ahmed Sekou Toure of Guinea, Maurice Bishop of Grenada and President Sam Nujoma of Namibia. Among his most treasured images are his coverage of the funeral of his namesake, Kwame Nkrumah, the independence of Namibia along with the Inauguration of his longtime friend Pres. Sam Njoma, and the inauguration of Nelson Mandela, the later two events are amongst the things for which he had fought for for more than thirty years.



Robert G. O’Meally is Zora Neale Hurston Professor, Columbia University, and director of Columbia’s Center for Jazz Studies. His books include Lady Day: The Many Faces of Billie Holiday, The Craft of Ralph Ellison, and Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey. He has edited or co-edited many volumes, including The Jazz Cadence of American Culture, History and Memory in African American Culture, andThe Norton Anthology of African American Literature. Several of his music projects have won awards; his co-produced Smithsonian box set, The Jazz Singers, nominated for a Grammy.  In recent years, O’Meally has curated art exhibitions, including one that traveled for the Smithsonian Institution and others presented this year in New York, Paris, and Istanbul. O’Meally is an amateur saxophonist whose sons say Dad plays “for his own amazement!”




Robert Stam is a University Professor at New York University, where he teaches about the French New Wave filmmakers. Stam has published widely on French literature, comparative literature, and on film topics such as film history and film theory. He wrote with Ella Shohat Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multiculturalism and the Media.

Stam has authored, co-authored and edited some seventeen books on film and cultural theory, literature and film, national cinema (French and Brazilian), aesthetic and politics, intellectual history, and comparative race and postcolonial studies. With work that has ranged across a number of different fields, Stam has participated in a number of post-structuralist and postcolonial “turns” within film and cultural studies. A 1983 Screen essay “Colonialism, Racism, and Representation” brought post-structuralist theory to bear on issues of representations of colonial history and racial oppression. Attempting to go beyond the methodological limitations of the then dominant paradigm of “positive image” and “negative stereotype” analysis, Stam argued for an approach that emphasized not social accuracy or characterological merits but rather such issues as perspective, address, focalization, mediation, and the filmic orchestration of discourses.



Randy Weston, 2/19/84, Half Moon Bay CA © 2013 Brian McMillen /

After contributing seven decades of musical direction and genius, Randy Weston remains one of the world’s foremost pianists and composers today, a true innovator and visionary.

Encompassing the vast rhythmic heritage of Africa, his global creations musically continue to inform and inspire. “Weston has the biggest sound of any jazz pianist since Ellington and Monk, as well as the richest most inventive beat,” state’s jazz critic Stanley Crouch, “but his art is more than projection and time; it’s the result of a studious and inspired intelligence…an intelligence that is creating a fresh synthesis of African elements with jazz technique”.




Caron Atlas is Director of Arts & Democracy, which cross fertilizes arts and culture, participatory democracy, and social justice, and CoDirector of Naturally Occurring Cultural Districts New York (NOCDNY), a citywide coalition that revitalizes NYC from the neighborhood up. She also teaches at Pratt Institute and Hunter College and is on the district and steering committees for participatory budgeting in New York City. Previously she worked at the Appalachian cultural center, Appalshop, and was the founding director of the American Festival Project, a national alliance of artists working for community change. She has also worked with National Voice, Animating Democracy, Pratt Center for Community Development, Urban Institute, and the Network of Ensemble Theaters and been a foundation consultant.




Hiram Maristany was born in El Barrio and still lives in the same neighborhood he loves. Hiram came of age in the 1960’s, when young Puerto Ricans, born and raised in New York’s barrios, asserted a new, New York Puerto Rican identity. Inspired by the Cuban Revolution and the Chicano, Civil Rights, and the Black Power movements, these young people formed new political organizations to revolutionize American society and new arts organizations to spotlight their unique vision of the world. They insisted that their voices be heard, their art work exhibited, their history saved, and their identity not only acknowledged, but celebrated.

Like their counterparts in the pioneros (first, or pioneer) generation, Maristany and his peers easily mixed political and cultural activism. Maristany was a founder of the Young Lords Party in 1969, and was the official photographer for that radical youth organization’s brief but tumultuous exstence. From 1975 to 1977, he served as director of El Museo del barrio, also founded in 1969. Deeply involved in the Puerto Rican arts movement, he has documented its major developments and personalities in El barrio for forty years and served during that time as a mentor to numerous Puerto Rican and Latino artist in the city.

Hiram also recorded everyday life in El Barrio, the neighborhood that served as an incubator for the New York Puerto Rican identity, the neighborhood that he has always called home.




Monica O. Montgomery is a cultural entrepreneur, curating media, museums and memory to enhance creative inspiration.  She is the Director of ​the​ Lewis Latimer Historic House Museum. As a museum anarchist, she remixes the museum experience, interpreting diversity, creativity and community, to bridge past and present through the lens of Latimers legacy. Her thought leadership converges at the intersection of public programs, visitor experience, marketing and arts administration. She believes museums should be in service to society, and is the Founding Director of the Museum of Impact (MOI) the worlds first mobile Social Justice Museum. She leads MOI in working ​​within communities to amplify grassroots movements and social issues, at the intersection of art and activism.

She is an alumna of Temple University with a Bachelor of Broadcast Communication, and La Salle University, Master of Corporate Communication. Monica is a Creative Community Fellow with National Arts Strategies, Innovative Cultural Advocacy Fellow with Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute and Cultural Equity Fellow with the New York Community Trust. She ​runs social media for several cultural collectives including ​#MuseumWorkersSpeak​, U.S. Department of Arts & Culture ​and​ the​ ​Association of African American Museums.

As a former indie magazine publisher and classroom educator, she is passionate about exploring new narratives and creative place making for the public good. Her active citizenship includes a missions trip to South Africa to build a school, and ‘Day of Service’ library book drives.

Monica is a proud member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Incorporated and a Board member of the New York City Museum Educators Roundtable​​. She is the Strategic Director of Museum Hue, a platform for cultural diversity, advancing the viability and visibility of people of color, utilizing the arts, culture and museums as a medium for discussion, creation, and solutions.




Born in Harlem in 1937, Valerie Maynard apprenticed as a portrait painter with Elaine Joumet before studying painting, drawing and printmaking at the Museum of Modern Art and the New School for Social Research in New York City. She received an M.A. in Sculpture from Goddard College in 1977 and has worked with wood, clay, fabric, metal, stone and a variety of other materials over the past 50 years. Her work is featured in private collections around the globe, including the personal art collections of Stevie Wonder, Lena Horne and Nobel laureate, Toni Morrison. In January 1977, she was part of a contingent of hundreds of African-American artists who represented the North American Zone, exhibiting in FESTAC 77, the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture in Lagos, Nigeria.

Maynard embraces all aspects of the art world, working as a fine artist, an educator, a curator, and a set designer. She has exhibited her artwork all over the United States and abroad. Throughout her career, Maynard has received many awards including residencies in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and New York, The Studio Museum in Harlem where she was a part of a group exhibition Labor, Love, Live Collection in Context, held November 14, 2007 – March 9, 2008, as well as a New York Foundation for the Arts Grant in Printmaking. As an Artists’ Book Resident, she produced Lost and Found, a portfolio of ten black and white silkscreen prints that forms part of the artist’s ?No Apartheid? series expressing the terror and injustice of apartheid.

She has taught extensively in both classroom and workshop settings and at a variety of universities and community institutions. Maynard also specializes in the restoration and preservation of traditional art forms of people of color.

While Valerie Maynard has exhibited her work and taken residencies all over the world, the New York City-born and raised sculptor and printmaker has left a lasting mark on her hometown. As part of a station renovation, Maynard was commission by the MTA to create a permanent installation at the 125th Street Subway Station. Her 2003 Polyrhythmics of Consciousness and Light depicts colors and shapes against a geometric field that she describes as capturing “boundless energy” and “the Harlem of our dreams.”




Elizabeth C. Yeampierre is a nationally recognized Puerto Rican attorney and environmental justice leader of African and Indigenous ancestry born and raised in New York City. She is Executive Director of UPROSE, Brooklyn’s oldest Latino community based organization. Her award winning vision for an inter-generational, multi-cultural and community led organization is the driving force behind UPROSE. She is a long-time advocate and trailblazer for community organizing around just, sustainable development, environmental justice and community-led climate adaptation and community resiliency in Sunset Park. Prior to assuming the Executive Director position at UPROSE, Ms. Yeampierre was the Director of Legal Education and Training at the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund, Director of Legal Services for the American Indian law Alliance and Dean of Puerto Rican Student Affairs at Yale University.  She holds a BA from Fordham University, a law degree from Northeastern University. Elizabeth is the first Latina Chair of the US EPA National Environmental Justice Advisory Council.




Monifa Akinwole-Bandele is a blogger, human rights activist and community engagement consultant. She is a co-founder and coordinator for 10 years of the Black August Hip Hop Project, an international activist/artist alliance, with ties in Cuba, South Africa, Tanzania, Venezuela and Brazil. Black August is one of the many programs of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM). As an activist with MXGM, Monifa works on issues of police brutality and political prisoners. MXGM’s Cop Watch project, along with a coalition of organizations, filed suit against the New York City Police Department after the 1999 shooting of Amadou Diallo. That suit helped lead to the end of the NYPD Street Crimes Unit, which was responsible for the killing.

Monifa has also worked on numerous film campaigns as an outreach coordinator, including Black Power Revisited (2013), Soul Food Junkies (2012), Emmy® winning Freedom Riders (2010),Pray the Devil Back to Hell (2006), Banished (2006) and the critically acclaimed Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes (2006).

She is currently the food and economic security campaign director for, an organization of more than one million members, and the senior training advisor for the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP). Prior to joining NCBCP Monifa led a national campaign to expand voting rights to people with felony convictions in 15 states as the national field director for the Brennan Center for Justice Right to Vote Campaign (RTV) expanding voting rights to more than 250,000 people. She serves on the board of directors for the Brooklyn Movement Center, a direct action, community-organizing group for residents of Bedford Stuyvesant and Crown Heights. Monifa has a Master of Human Services degree from Lincoln University.

Award-winning American Filmmaker best known for the feature documentary FREE ANGELA & All Political Prisoners and the Peabody Award winning documentary CHISHOLM ’72: Unbought & Unbossed.




Shola Lynch, award-winning American Filmmaker best known for the feature documentary FREE ANGELA & All Political Prisoners and the Peabody Award winning documentary CHISHOLM ’72: Unbought & Unbossed.

The feature documentary FREE ANGELA & All Political Prisoners is a first hand account of the events that thrust Angela Davis into the national spotlight from a young college professor to a fugitive on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list. The film received critical acclaim and premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and won the 2014 NAACP Image Award for Excellence for Best Documentary.

In 2013, Shola Lynch was named the Curator for Film, Moving Image and Recorded Sound at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Shola holds a Master’s in American History and Public History Management from the University of California, Riverside as well as a graduate degree in journalism from Columbia University. She is also working on a book based on her film Free Angela.

Her first independent documentary, CHISHOLM ’72 – Unbought & Unbossed, follows Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm’s historic run for president in 1972 and premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and aired on PBS’s POV series.  The film won two Independent Spirit Award nominations and a prestigious Peabody for excellence.

From age 2 to 6, Shola Lynch was one of the kids on Sesame Street in the early 1970s. She would later be reunited with Kermit the Frog in the 1989 special Sesame Street: 20 and Still Counting. She was also a nationally ranked track athlete in high school in NYC and while at the University of Texas at Austin. She credits the lessons she learned as a competitor to her success as a filmmaker.

She has produced and scripted stories that have aired on BET, CNN, ESPN, HBO Sports, TV One, and PBS.   In 2013, The Sundance Institute selected Shola as one of five women  who show great promise to be mentored in their prestigious Women’s Filmmaker Initiative. Shola was also recently awarded a prestigious Creative Capital Award for her next film, a narrative on the great liberator Harriet Tubman.

As a filmmaker and curator, Shola has become a highly respected public speaker, lecturer and panelist on the subject of film and film history for universities, film festivals and corporations.  She has recently screened and/or presented to groups including Harvard University, The University of Pennsylvania, Yale University, University of California at Los Angeles,  The Guggenheim Museum, The Tribeca Film Festival, The Sundance Film Festival and The Toronto International Film Festival.




Antonio David Lyons is the founder of We Are Here, a social sculpture project that seeks to foster an environment where the arts can impact social conditions, attitudes, perceptions and structures. The campaign was birthed in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2010. It utilizes discoursive play to engage men and boys in themes of gender violence, identity, relationships and HIV/AIDS. The goal of the campaign is to provide a nurturing environment where men and boys can discover, develop and share tools that will help grow themselves and their communities.

He holds an MA in Applied Theatre from the City University of New York (CUNY). His thesis project The WHY Factor was conducted in collaboration with CUNY/BMI (Black Male Initiative). The project provided concrete opportunities for participants to practice different ways of being successful while developing useful skills for navigating life. In addition to his studies Antonio continued to integrate his artistry with social activism while working at the Creative Arts Team (CAT), an educational theatre company that specializes in creating interactive learning experiences with youth and adult populations. The scope of his work within the organization has allowed him to devise and implement curriculum that addresses bullying, college preparedness and conflict.  He was also instrumental in shaping Project CHANGE, a CAT program that trains undergraduate students in utilizing theatre based interventions, social media, community development and Evidenced Based Intervention (EBI) curricula to engage community around healthy sexual lifestyles.

He has been a Guest Lecturer at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), Wits University (Johannessburg), Columbia College (Los Angeles) and the Newtown Film and Video School (Johannesburg). He is also Chair of the newly formed Black Theatre Commons.

Antonio also manages to maintain a thriving career as a professional artist in tandem with his activist and scholarly pursuits. He has been a familiar face on South African television screens since 2003, with a memorable role on SA’s favorite soapie, Generations. However it was Antonio’s humble beginnings in the USA, with a notable performance in an episode of Fox’s New York Undercover entitled “Toy Soldiers” that set the tone for the success’s that followed. Since his role on NY Undercover, he has landed roles on “The District” and “The Agency”, “24”, “The Practice” , “Philly” and “Karen Sisco”. In South Africa: “Jacob’s Cross”, “Ga Re Dumele”, “Fourplay”, “Scandal”, “Ubizo”, “Jozi-H”, “Snitch”, and “Home Affairs”.  His film credits include, “The Book of Negroes”(BET/CBC),  “Night Drive” (SA), the TNT movie, “Avenger, the HBO series “Generation Kill”,  the Paul Ruven film, “Surprise”, the Robert K. Townsend film, “False Prophets”, “Hotel Rwanda”, Masked and Anonymous, “American History X”, and “The Sum of All Fears”.

His career continues to evolve with the added dimension of poetic house artist and lyricist. His signature voice and words are featured on the introduction to “Total Bliss” with Azania on Metro FM (9am- 12pm/daily). In 2007 he released is solo project “Human Jewels”. In March 2011 his sophomore project, “We Dance We Pray”, hit shelves.  




Lumumba Akinwole-Bandele is the Senior Community Organizer in LDF’s Criminal Justice Practice.  He is a community organizer and educator from Central Brooklyn.  From 1994 – 1998 Lumumba served as programming coordinator at the Franklin H. Williams Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCC).  During his tenure at CCC, he also co-found Azabache, an organizers training conference and workshop series for young activists.  All the while as a Black Studies Major at City College of NY/CUNY, he went on to receive his Masters in Human Service from Lincoln University in 1998.  As a member and organizer with the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Mr. Akinwole-Bandele helped establish its campaign to counter police abuse and misconduct.  He also co-founded the world renowned Black August Hip Hop Project.  Black August raises awareness and support for political prisoners in the United States.  From 2002 to 2007 Lumumba served as a counselor and lecturer at Medgar Evers College/CUNY.  Lumumba currently serves as an adjunct lecturer teaching Community Organizing at Lehman College/CUNY.




Charles Rice-González, born in Puerto Rico and reared in the Bronx, is a writer, long-time community and LGBT activist, co-founder and Executive Director of BAAD! The Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance and a Distinguished Lecturer at Hostos Community College – CUNY.  He received a B.A. in Communications from Adelphi University and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Goddard College.  His debut novel, Chulito (Magnus 2011), has received awards and recognitions from American Library Association (ALA) and the National Book Critics Circle. He co-edited From Macho to Mariposa: New Gay Latino Fiction (Tincture 2011) with Charlie Vazquez. He is also an award-winning playwright and serves on the boards of the Bronx Council on the Arts and the National Association of Latino Art and Cultures.