Columbia University Summer Teachers & Scholars Institute


Columbia University’s Summer Teachers & Scholars Institute is holding a panel discussion this evening Wednesday July 11, 2017 from 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM on the challenges the African American Community faces in 2017. The panel discussion is being held in honor of the 100th anniversary of the 1917 Harlem Silent March. The event is being held on Columbia University’s campus at 612 Schermerhorn Hall on the Morningside Campus. The event is free and open to the public.

Click here to find out more information on the panelists and moderator.


Let Us Make Man Gala Celebration

Let Us Make Man 2017 Gala Celebration: “Celebrating Courage, Excellence, and Scholarship”

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Georgia International Convention Center

2000 Convention Center Concourse in Atlanta.

The Reception begins at 6:00 p.m.

Dinner at 7:00 p.m.

This year’s Gala will be hosted by Big Tigger of V103. Every year Let Us Make Man has provided deserving students from the local area college scholarships. For our 10th Anniversary, last year, we expanded our vision and raised over $30,000 for scholarships at our inaugural gala. This year we want to continue that tradition by providing scholarships to support the growing number of deserving students in need.

In addition to the scholarships provided to students, Let Us Make Man’s primary mission has been to host and organize “The Gathering to Reclaim Black manhood” for 10 consecutive years.

Click Here To Purchase Tickets

Not One Step Back: Drug Policy Reform

Over the weekend the Drug Policy Alliance held it’s teaser event Not One Step Back: A One Day Strategy Session on the Drug War, Mass Incarceration, and Public Health. In preparation for the larger International Conference being held in Atlanta, October 11-14 DPA wanted to give it’s participants a snippet of what they could expect at the larger conference.

Overall the event was a success and included notable attendees such as, Representative Maxine Waters, and attorney Deborah Small. Those who came out for the day also received the added bonus of registering for the larger conference at a massive discount! If you missed out on the in depth panel discussions, and step team performance, sign up for the October conference before it’s too late!

Click Here To Register

Screen Shot 2017-04-24 at 10.54.52 PM

Working To Mobilize Black Student Movements 

Atlanta, April 18, 2017– Zellie Imani, an activist and finalist of the 9th Annual Shorty Awards, is being featured on A Tough Mind & Tender Heart as our Spotlight Activist for the month of April. Zellie is the founder of the Black Liberation Collective an organization comprised of black students working around the country to challenge and transform the infrastructure of higher education for black students. To learn more about Zellie’s story and his work with The Black Liberation Collective, please visit

About A Tough Mind & Tender Heart

The site, A Tough Mind & Tender Heart, was launched by activist attorney Sandra Barnhill as a platform where social activists and those who support justice and social change could share their work, gain strength, and garner insight for their work. To learn more visit, or call us at 404.270.0301.




Zellie Imani – empowering and equipping Black students

Zellie Imani is empowering and equipping Black students to become leaders within their communities.

What are you currently working on in the field of social justice and what are you trying to accomplish with your work?

With the Black Liberation Collective, we are boldly attempting to radicalize the Black Student movement in ways that haven’t been attempted on a mass scale in decades. The Movement for Black lives is one that seeks to affirm the humanity of Black folk, by challenging all institutions, not just the police, that systemically harm and exploit Black bodies.

The Black Liberation Collective, which consists of Black college students, finds itself in a unique position to challenge & transform higher education and how it collaborates and perpetuates structural violence by investing in private prisons & marginalizing Black folk by creating a pool of unskilled Black workers through admissions.

As someone who believes that youth are the most radical segment of the population, the Black Liberation Collective and I intend to organize and empower Black students so they can be the leaders they’ve been waiting for.

Who or what has influenced your work and who has inspired your activism?

After reading a number of memoirs, autobiographies, and other historical texts by black thought leaders, I often found myself asking the same questions, “Would I have been in SNCC?” or “Would I have been a Black Panther?” In August of 2014, I found myself in Ferguson, MO with hundreds of other people protesting the death of Mike Brown, who was killed by a white police officer.

Like the events that happened in the black history books I read, I found myself face to face with armed cops. I found myself being tear gassed or in the scope of a sniper. And like the history books, I alongside other protestors confronted the danger head on, not with violence, but non-violence. I’m still not sure if I would have been in SNCC or if I would have been apart of the Black Panther movement, but I’m a little more sure of what role I would take as a result of the things I encountered in August of 2014.

As an activist, my role is to empower others. I don’t think of myself as special, or particularly smart. I have certain skills, experiences, and access to resources that allow me to do the work I do and do it well. But many of those skills, knowledge, and resources aren’t exclusive to me. And it is of no benefit to the community, and ultimately myself as a member of the black community, for it to remain exclusive.

So for me empowering others means sharing my skills, experiences, and resources with others. You don’t empower yourself by disempowering others. You empower yourself by empowering others.

“Strong people do not need strong leaders.” – Ella Baker

Field of Work

I am not fighting for the freedom of Black people alone, but for the end of domination & coercion. The end of the domination of humans by humans.

Social Media

Facebook Page



Hammer Museum Presents

Hammer Museum, operated by UCLA is partnering with the African American Policy Forum this week to present the third annualHer Dream Deferred, a series offering the substantive analysis on the status of black women and girls in the United States and exploring multifaceted solutions to social injustice.” All the events are streamed live, you can catch the last one tonight at 7:30 PM (PST)

From The Hammer Museum Website


Thursday, March 30, 2017, 7:30 p.m.
The widespread coverage of race and gender inequality in Hollywood often excludes black women. The wage gap for black women in the entertainment industry is a symptom of a larger issue: the invisibility and devaluing of black women in media culture as performers, producers, and directors.

Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw moderates a panel that explores this narrative alongside solutions to promote black women as creators. Panelists: legendary actress Diahann Carroll; stage and soap actress Tonya Pinkins; film, television, and theater actress and director LisaGay Hamilton; veteran Hollywood casting director Tracy “Twinkie” Byrd; April Reign, #OscarsSoWhite creator and the founder and editor of; and University of Alabama professor Kristen Warner, who studies race, representation, and the media.

Watch Live


Hülya Miclisse-Polat – working with the Greenfield Intercultural Center

Hülya Miclisse-Polat is helping to provide support services to First Generation and Low-Income Students with the Greenfield Intercultural Center.

What are you currently working on in the field of social justice and what are you trying to accomplish with your work?

With the Greenfield Intercultural Center, I help to support First Generation Low-Income students by strengthening food security on campus, organizing social justice events/workshops, and I facilitate various discussions around social justice issues on Penn’s campus. I am also currently working on a short film in collaboration with one of my graduate courses on the toxic water supply in West Philadelphia.

From a very young age, I became involved in grassroots organizing in Miami, where I joined WeCount! an immigrant right’s organization. I became a youth leader there at 15 and was involved with different campaigns such as immigration reform, restorative justice in response to the zero tolerance policies in schools, literacy programs, and youth leadership development.

During my undergraduate career at the University of Miami, I began to organize events on campus in response to the incidents of police brutality in our country. I helped to organize some of the very first #blacklivesmatter demonstrations on campus. I also worked with the cultural organizations to make the campus a more inclusive environment. With the help of my peers, we pressured the administration to respond to the inflammatory comments made by students after our demonstrations. In response, we were instrumental in creating the first “Task Force to Address Black Students’ Concerns” in order to address the lack of inclusivity on campus.

Who or what has influenced your work and who has inspired your activism? 

I was born in Montreal, Canada to a Haitian mother and a Turkish father. At the age of 5, I moved to Miami, Florida. My first memory of being in the United States was coming home from ESOL class crying because I did not understand anything in school, I only spoke French and everything was foreign to me. I was ashamed of my initial minimal English, then I became ashamed of my accent and I was somewhat ashamed of my identity-I was a black immigrant girl who came from a culture that historically was stigmatized and discriminated against.

It was not until I went to a regular public high school, however, that I witnessed so many issues and disparities within our educational system. It was a high school that was predominately Haitian, African-American and Mexican. Most of the students came from immigrant, low-income families. For me, this is when a shift within myself occurred. I was always questioned about my race, and about my culture. To be told “you’re too light to be Haitian” or “aren’t Haitians boat people?” was very hurtful. However, I no longer hid from my identity. Instead, I began to embrace everything my culture had to offer, our music, food, spirituality, and especially our blackness. I think this shift happened because I felt a sense of resilience, a sense of duty to protect my community. Although I was discovering my identity at that time, the same support system was not granted to most students in the public high school that I attended. Some students faced challenges at home such as lack of parental support for homework since a lot of them had immigrant parents who were not fluent in English. With many of these students facing emotional and social instability, most teachers were not equipped with resources to help these students. Instead, they blamed the disruptive behavior solely on the individual. I slowly began to connect the pieces of poverty, violence, and self-hatred that I witnessed to the bigger institutional issues within our society.

My sophomore year of high school my mother took me to a Town Hall meeting that a local organization was hosting. The organization was called WeCount, and it was a nonprofit organization that advocated for immigrant rights. My mother was on the board of directors and she facilitated one of the discussions regarding transportation access for migrant farmworkers. In that meeting, I learned so much about my community that I did not know before. Parents were working long hours, barely made anything and were constantly harassed and racially profiled by the police. I connected the experiences of the parents to the experiences of their children who went to my school. Before that meeting, I was aware of these problems but I did not know how I could be involved in challenging these issues and working to better my community. The Town Hall meeting sparked something in me; it radicalized my view of the institutional issues facing our communities. I became much more prideful of who I was, and appreciated the political conversations that my mother introduced me to early on as a child. She always told me: “you are Black and come from Haitian roots and you should never be ashamed of that. We are descendants of revolutionary women and men, we are powerful.” She is my inspiration for the work that I do.

“We are the descendants of revolutionary women and men, we are powerful.” – Hülya Miclisse-Polat’s Mother

Any important bits of wisdom you would like to share?

I think for me, being an activist means that you are never static, you are always growing and always evolving, and it is important to remember that throughout your journey. What we know now is not what we knew then. I realize that my experiences really ground me and help me make sense of the world and how I conceptualize it, so I am proud of my lived experiences because I did not get here alone, and I will not get to where I am going alone either. Therefore, it is so imperative to bring each other up in this movement, because it is not about us as individuals but it is about us as a collective.

Field of Work

Anti-racism, Environmental Justice, Sexual and Reproductive Health, Immigrant Rights, Rights for Students of Color and Low-Income Students

Social Media

Facebook Page


Black Girl Magic & The New Face Of Activism

Black Girl Magic is currently in full effect as we take the end of Women’s History Month to not only celebrate the relaunch of A Tough Mind & Tender Heart with highlighting young activist, Hülya Miclisse-Polat but to also use it as an opportunity to highlight a woman who identified herself not just as an activist but as an artist as well. Friday, March 24th marked the sixteenth annual Toni Cade Bambara Scholar-Activism Conference at Spelman College. The room was filled with legacy and if you didn’t leave dripping with inspiration and hope for the future there’s no way you were in the same room as I was. Spelman alumni, family, and friends of Toni Cade Bambara lined the walls to pay homage to her life and work. The theme, “Black Feminisms Arise: Thinking Deep, Talking Loud, & Acting Up” was certainly a call to action to everyone in attendance.


Across generations, artists have been at the forefront of social justice, challenging our intellect and giving us the tools to question the existing social constructs we deem normal or relevant. Toni Cade Bambara was one of these activists. Using her writing and talents as a documentary filmmaker, her and other close friends such as Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Audre Lorde, and Nikki Giovanni introduced to the world what is widely known today, as black women’s literature. 

“Our art, protest, dialogue, no longer spring from the impulse to entertain, or to indulge or enlighten the conscience of the enemy; white people, whiteness, or racism; men, maleness, or chauvinism: America or imperialism… depending on your viewpoint and your terror. Our energies now seem to be invested in and are in turn derived from a determination to touch and to unify.” – Toni Cade Bambara

 At a time when the acceptance of the African American experience wasn’t widely recognized in American art, the work created by Toni Cade Bambara and other artists of her time, were pivotal in bringing awareness to the everyday injustices of African Americans. In the world of Activism “The Black Intellect” has taken a forefront in the movement of social justice. But have these constructs minimized the legitimacy of who we identify as social changemakers? I was able to sit down at the TCB-3-8x10opening reception with some girls in the Toni Cade Bambara Scholars Writers Activist Program about their experiences within the program. What they had to say about the growing trend of “Stayin’ Woke” and what it means to be an activist today was insightful.

Briana (Guest Writer): How do you feel academia correlates to social justice?

Naomi: A lot of times in these types of settings, what degree you have or what type of academic expertise you have will determine whether people legitimize your activism. Kind of like I said about Respectability Politics if you have a PhD people are going to care more about what you have to say than if you don’t.

Briana (Guest Writer): So, do you feel that the experience of injustices alone, isn’t enough to qualify you as an activist?

Naomi: No, it absolutely would. That’s the issue. Going to school, getting a degree, and getting a couple letters behind your name doesn’t make you any more or less legitimate as an activist.

Kiersten: And that’s so ironic because most social movements that do occur, if not all, are started by people who did not have the privilege to be educated.

Briana (Guest Writer): Do you feel activism is still prevalent to younger generations?

Kiersten: I think it’s cool. It’s the fad right now to be “Woke”. To be liberated. A lot of times the “wokeness” comes out and being a hotep, you know being half woke, is enough and then they stop. But I think you have to liberate yourself from all your oppressions, and not just look at one side of the issue. I hope that it’s becoming more prevalent. But I don’t know if it’s becoming more prevalent because it’s popular or because people actually care.

Naomi: I think young people are involved with activism. Especially for me, I come across this struggle where it’s like I have this knowledge and I have this desire but I just don’t know what to do. I just don’t know how to start. And seeing other people who are really involved with activism is inspiring but at the same time it’s almost like jumping in at double dutch, you’re just not really sure when to hop in. I just don’t know who to go to that will cultivate those desires.

A Tough Mind & Tender Heart began by Sandra Barnhill to highlight the work of various activists across the nation. As we continue the journey of challenging what it means to be an activist and exploring the work of others, we ask that you will join us. If you or someone you know is an activist and would like to have their work featured on our site please use the contact form at the bottom of the page to send us a message.    

“Everyday, against incredible odds, women, and men fight the good fight for justice. Yet, beyond the lives they touch, most people will never hear about their work. We need to hear about their work and not just so we can celebrate them and their victories, though we definitely should. We need to hear about their work so that their strategies and approaches to dealing with complex issues can be shared with others who are working on the same, similar, or totally different issues. Their approach to the work can be a catalyst for someone else working on the frontline or someone who has been thinking about doing justice work but needed a “rallying call”.” – Sandra Barnhill