Making Black Lives Matter

A seven-week seminar with DeRay Mckesson


DeRay Mckesson, a Black Lives Matter activist and a leading national voice against police violence, will explore the use of social media and on-the-ground actions to drive activism and develop a new type of organizing. He also will delve into the work of ending police violence and of building a social justice reform platform. This series by Mckesson, who also has worked in public school districts as a teacher and a top human resources administrator, is part of a larger discussion at the Institute of Politics this year examining a range of strategies aimed at affecting social change.

Mondays at 4:30 pm beginning Oct. 3, except a 3 pm, seminar on Oct. 24. All seminars are at the Center for Identity + Inclusion, 5710 S. Woodlawn, except Nov. 7 at the IOP, 5707 S. Woodlawn, and Nov. 14 at the Chicago Theological Seminary, 1407 E. 60th Street. IOP seating capacity is lmiited to 45. All seminars at the Center for Identity + Inclusion are co-sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and LGBTQ Student Life.

Oct 3 — Organizing on the Inside and on the Outside

DeRay has on been on the outside agitating for change, beginning as an activist in Baltimore as a teenager and most recently as a prominent activist within the Black Lives Matter movement in Ferguson, Mo. and in cities across the country. He also has been inside leading systemic change, as a teacher, a founder of an after-school/out-of-school center and as a senior leader in two public school districts. In this seminar, he will discuss movement-building strategies for working inside and outside structures of traditional power without compromising the focus on the work

Oct. 10 — From Ferguson To Minneapolis

DeRay and the lead Minneapolis Black Lives Matter chapter organizer Mica Grimm will discuss their personal journeys to activism, a range of different context-specific tactics and strategies for organizing and activism and, what has — and hasn't — changed since Michael Brown's death in Ferguson in August 2014. They also will offer commentary regarding solution-oriented platforms.

Guest: Black Lives Matter Minneapolis organizer Mica Grimm.

Oct. 17 — 21st Century Activism

With nearly 600,000 followers on Twitter and a cell phone always at the ready, Mckesson and fellow activists are, as the New York Times wrote in May, “developing a model of the modern protester: part organizer, part citizen journalist who marches through American cities while texting, as charging cords and battery packs fall out of his pockets.” In this skills-based seminar, DeRay will share his strategies and tips for online organizing and activism. He also will talk about his focus on developing and amplifying a new type of power among, for, and with black people, as well as strategies for coalition building among unlikely allies.

Oct. 24 at 3 pm — From Activism to Action

After a year of activism against policy brutality online and in the streets, DeRay in 2015 co-launched Campaign Zero, a comprehensive plan to end police violence. In this seminar, he'll lay out Campaign Zero's platform and relate it to policy demands released by other movement-based groups. He also will discuss strategies for composing solutions-oriented platform development. This skills-based seminar will challenge students to think through solutions that reinterpret relationships of power and offer actionable change with regard to equity and justice.

Oct. 31 — Cracking the Contract: Reforming Police Union Contracts

Campaign Zero, the comprehensive set of policy solutions focused on ending police violence developed by DeRay and a team of activists, includes a pillar devoted to ensuring that police union contracts — which set terms that can limit police accountable for misconduct – are fair and equitable and operate in the interest of the public. Campaign Zero created the first public database of police union contracts and is organizing to ensure that police union contracts across the country are reformed. In this seminar, DeRay will work through strategies for ensuring that change takes place and students will assist in this work.

Guest: Samuel Sinyangwe, data scientist and activist

* Nov. 7 — You Must be Alive to Learn

Ending police violence is only the beginning of the critical work needed to strengthen America's cities. DeRay will draw on his experience as a former teacher and senior public school district administrator to diagnose what ails our nation’s urban schools and to offer a set of solutions that can push public education forward to ensure that each student has a world-class education.

Guest: Brittany Packnett, National Vice President of National Community Alliances

* This seminar will be at the Institute of Politics, 5707 S. Woodlawn.

* Nov. 14 — Classrooms and the Restoration of Power

Few things matter more in education than the quality of the teacher at the head of the classroom. In this seminar, DeRay will share his experiences teaching, managing human capital at the district level, and training and supporting teachers. He will explain how critical teachers, and the education reform community in general, are in the work of building power for current and future generations and in the work of education reform.

* This seminar will be at the Chicago Theological Seminary, 1407 E. 60th Street, room 118.