MEET THE SPEAKERS & HONOREES
A Virtual Interactive Event
The Black History Virtual
Empowerment Recognition Breakfast
Thursday, March 10, 2022
FREE & OPEN TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC WORLDWIDE
2pm GMT • 9am EST • 8am CST • 7am MST • 6am PST
HAS THE CRITICAL RACE THEORY BEEN HIJACKED?
DISTINGUISHED PANEL SPEAKERS
ATTORNEY ARTHUR HARDY-DOUBLEDAY
Attorney Arthur Hardy Doubleday grew up on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. He received his early education on the Island's Oak Bluffs Public Schools before moving onto the Rivers School in Weston, Massachusetts. He is a 2003 graduate of Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, majoring in American Studies and Educational Studies. He holds an MBA/JD degree from Suffolk University.
Mr. Hardy-Doubleday has organized communities in Hartford, Connecticut, and has a passion for empowering people and neighborhoods. An avid sailor, Mr. Hardy-Doubleday has crewed aboard the Schooner Amistad during her East Coast and Halifax tour. A member of the Martha's Vineyard Branch of the NAACP since his youth, he became the Branch President during the most recent election.
As an attorney, in 2019, he successfully argued Davis v. Comerford before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, thereby standardizing how housing courts make use and occupancy orders.
In his spare time, he likes getting in "good trouble" with his fellow NAACP members and friends.
REV. DR. JENNIFER LEATH
Jennifer S. Leath (she/they/xe) is the Queen's University faculty as Queen's National Scholar and Assistant Professor of Black Religions in the School of Religion. Bridging concerns of religious ethics and African American studies, much of her current writing and teaching focuses on the sexual ethics and economies of historically Black churches and Afro-Diasporic religion in the United States.
Rev. Dr. Leath joins Queen's from Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado, where she served on the faculty after completing her A.B. at Harvard University, an M.Div. at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, and her Ph.D. at Yale University and working at Columbia University.
Committed to interdisciplinary scholarship, Leath's first monograph, From Black to Quare (and then) to Where: Theories of Justice and Black Sexual Ethics is forthcoming with Duke University Press. Leath is also completing her monograph, Childcare Activists: Reframing Afro-Diasporic Faith from the Home to the Streets, which actively engages the intersection of the spiritualities, activism, and secular childcare work of Afro-Diasporic women in the United States.
Leath also co-founded the Center on African American Religion, Sexual Politics & Social Justice at Columbia University. She served as a Senior Fellow, Director for Research, and Assistant Director for Research. She was a 2014-15 research associate and visiting lecturer at Harvard Divinity School's Women's Studies in Religion Program. Before joining the Queen's faculty, Dr. Leath was Assistant Professor of Religion and Social Justice and Director of the Masters of Social Justice & Ethics at Iliff School of Theology.
Research FocusLeath's research concentrates on the intersection of sexualities and religion in sacred communities and spaces of the African Diaspora. Her scholarship also engages the intersection of Afro-Diasporic women's spiritualities and social activism.
Dr. Leath's other research and teaching interests include the physics of metaphysics of womanism, African and Afro-Diasporic approaches to sexualities in political economies, abolition, transnational ecumenisms of marginalized peoples, the intersections of Buddhist and womanist thought, interdisciplinary approaches to interreligious dialogue, and theories of justice.
Other interests In addition to her research, Leath is a member of various academic communities, including the Society for the Study of Black Religion, the American Academy of the Religion, and the Society for Christian Ethics.
Close Connections To The African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME)
Rev. Dr. Jennifer S. Leath was licensed to preach at Mother Bethel AME Church (Philadelphia, PA) in 1999; she was ordained an Itinerant Deacon in 2005 – and an Itinerant Elder in 2007. Most recently, Rev. Leath has served as the Pastor of Campbell Chapel AME Church (Denver, CO) (2015-2021).
The daughter of Bishop Jeffrey N. and Dr. Susan V. J. Leath, sister of Victoria and Jeffrey, II (Shamaiah), and aunt to Lamai, Rev. Dr. Leath is grateful for the loving support of her family and church homes that have nurtured and buoyed her as she responds to the call of G*d on her life to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with G*d.
Kevin C. Peterson is the Founder and Executive Director of The New Democracy Coalition, a non-partisan and non-profit organization that focuses on civic engagement in Massachusetts and across the United States. The New Democracy Coalition is in residence at the College for Public and Community Service at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.
Mr. Peterson studied philosophy and politics at Boston University and is currently a Senior Fellow at the Center for Collaborative Leadership at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. He has also served as a senior researcher at the William Monroe Trotter Institute in Boston. Mr. Peterson has served as a Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Urban Studies Department in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
He has lectured across the U.S. and in the continent of Africa, including the countries of Mali, Senegal, and Morocco.
Among numerous awards, Mr. Peterson has been cited by the U.S. Congress and the Massachusetts House of Representatives. The Boston City Council has declared a day in his honor. He is the recipient of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts 2012 Molly Moon Award for his work on statewide Redistricting. And he has been recognized for the development of youth programming such as The Democracy Lab and Votecorps.
Actor and humanitarian Danny Glover praised the New Democracy Coalition for its "important and unique work." He has appeared in national media, including Nightline, Time Magazine, and the New York Times.
Mr. Peterson writes a regular column in Boston Herald on politics and city affairs. He is a guest blogger on Black social and civic culture for Basic Black, WGBH, Boston.
He lives in the Meeting House Hill section of Dorchester, in Boston, Massachusetts.
Darryl's Corner Bar & Kitchen (also known as DCBK) is a South End treasure serving authentic Southern comfort food and signature cocktails while showcasing a variety of talented musicians. At the heart of it all lies a dedication to community, service, and good fun in Boston.
No one embodies these values more than owner Nia Grace. When speaking with her, one can't help but notice the joy Grace exudes when discussing her work. She explains, "The reason why I fell in love with [Darryl's] is because it is just so authentic, and it really is a space for community. It also happens to have excellent food, great service and a variety of entertainment. It is a gem in my backyard that I grew to be familiar with."
Nia's journey to Darryl's is nothing short of serendipitous. A born-and-bred Bostonian growing up in Roxbury and Dorchester, Grace worked in nonprofits for 12 years giving back to the communities she loved through mentorship and event planning. As she grew in her professional life, Nia searched for a community where like-minded individuals could gather.
Nine years ago, Nia and a friend visited DCBK on a whim, not knowing that a dream was already set in motion: "I said to my friend, 'If I ever owned a venue, I'd want it to be just like this.'" Just a few years later, Darryl's was officially sold to Nia by its previous owner, Darryl Settles. (The Multicultural Symposium Series honored Darryl Settles at the 2021 Empowerment Breakfast.)
According to Grace, there is a unifying thread amongst all Bostonians: the love of good music. Located next door to the Boston Conservatory at Berklee College of Music, DCBK has served as a training ground for young musicians looking to gain experience. After live entertainment took a hiatus, Darryl's welcomed music back onto its stage once again. Guests can experience a robust lineup of vocalists and ensembles on Friday and Saturday nights, as well as at brunch and dinner on Sundays. Over 50 musicians and groups are employed by Darryl's every year, with genres ranging from jazz and blues to funk and reggae.
Despite the pandemic, DCBK has modified its hours and moved forward in sustaining itself through these economically challenging times. She also co-founded the Boston Black Hospitality Coalition (BBHC), that was created out of the necessity to have a directed initiative that ensured the future of Boston's Black-owned hospitality community. BBHC's priority is to preserve a 180+ year legacy of food, culture, and business in Boston's black communities.
As for the future, Nia is excited to welcome friends new and old back to Darryl's. "We're so happy that we're a destination for our neighbors," she explains. "We've got a great amount of regulars that just love us, and we have a lot of visitors that are looking for that special gem in the city. We're so glad that they call us that."
Source for much of this profile is from Bostonguide.com
ATTORNEY RAHSAAN HALL
Rahsaan Hall has made a lifelong commitment to changing the lives of people who have been harmed and have experienced loss in the criminal legal system. A champion for civil rights, former Assistant District Attorney (ADA), and ordained minister, Rahsaan has been at the forefront of local and national issues that call for reimagining a public safety system that prioritizes restoration, transformation, and healing for people who have experienced harm and accountability for people who have caused harm.
When Rahsaan served as an Assistant District Attorney (ADA) for the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office, he worked in the DA's Safe Neighborhood Initiative and Senior Trial Units, prosecuting drug, gang, and homicide cases. Recognizing the lived experience of victims, he worked closely and compassionately with victims and survivors of violent crime while finding ways to identify less punitive and more restorative and transformative means of dealing with individuals struggling with substance use and mental health disorders.
Rahsaan's work in civil rights has stood out for his role in demanding greater accountability and transparency from people in positions of power and those charged with the duty to protect us all. During his time at the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts and at Lawyers for Civil Rights, he led programs and initiatives that increased community engagement and changed legislative policies. He maintained a litigation caseload of police misconduct, public accommodations, and voting rights cases. In 2018, Rahsaan drew national attention for spearheading the What a Difference a DA Makes campaign to educate Massachusetts residents about the power and influence of district attorneys.
Various organizations and the media have lauded Rahsaan for his distinguished and highly regarded work as an outspoken leader in criminal justice and civil rights. His awards include The Brockton Interfaith Community 2021 Community Leadership Award, Boston Magazine's Top Lawyers 2021, the Equal Justice Coalition's 2019 Beacon of Justice Award, Get Connected's 2018 GK100 Boston's Most Influential People of Color, and the Massachusetts Communities Action Network 2018 Carry it On Leadership Award.
Rahsaan Hall is running for Plymouth County District Attorney to restore accountability and public trust to the office. His candidacy calls for a better system of justice that will treat all victims with dignity and respect, carry out the duties of the office with transparency, reduce disparities in the criminal legal system and engage our communities.
Rahsaan is admitted to practice law in Massachusetts and the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. He is a graduate of The Ohio State University (B.A.), Northeastern University School of Law (J.D.), and Andover Newton Theological School (M.Div.). He is an ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Rahsaan has ministered to communities across the Commonwealth — both intergenerational and cross-cultural — guided by the divine command for justice.
Rahsaan lives in Brockton with his wife and family.
REV. VALERIE COUSIN
Affectionately called "Rev. Val" by the members of her congregation, Valerie Eugenia Kendrick-Cousin is a native of Chicago, Illinois, but spent the formative years of her life in Anniston, AL, where she attended middle and high school. She later attended Alabama State University in Montgomery, AL, where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting. In 1993, she received her Master of Public Administration degree in Nonprofit Management from Seton Hall University, and in 1999 she completed the requirements for a Certificate in Fundraising and Development from Marymount College. After receiving the call to ordained ministry in 2004, Rev. Valerie returned to school in 2006 and received her Master of Divinity in Preaching and Worship from Columbia University/Union Theological Seminary.
Having served as a senior level business officer for over twenty years at several colleges and universities in New Jersey and New York, Rev. Valerie has been an asset to the body of Christ by transferring her knowledge and skills in grant writing, human resources, office administration, and budget development to her role as Executive Pastor at Bridge AME Street.
She has written and received funding for three grants through the Calvin Institute for Christian Worship, a Calling Congregations grant from the Fund for Theological Education, and a Pastoral Study grant from the Louisville Institute. Rev. Valerie has developed numerous publications including, but not limited to, Stewardess Manual, New Member Orientation Guide, Baptism Curriculum, Funeral Guide, and Class Leader Guide.
A Silver-Star member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and past member and chaplain of the Westchester New York Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc., Rev. Valerie currently serves as secretary to the board of directors of Bridge Street Development Corporation in Brooklyn, New York. She enjoys reading, writing grants, journaling, and spending quiet time with God in her spare time.
She is married to her college sweetheart, Rev. David Byron Cousin, Sr., Pastor of Bridge Street African Methodist Episcopal Church in Brooklyn, NY. They are the proud parents of two sons: David Byron, Jr, and Matthew Joseph, and grandparents to two granddaughters, Melody Joan and Jael Marcianna.
Kyle Wells is a son of Boston and was born and raised in Mattapan, Massachusetts. He is a graduate of the distinguished Boston Latin School and a proud HBCU (Historically Black Colleges & Universities) alumnus, having graduated from Florida A & M University's School of Business and Industry.
Kyle is a multiple Emmy award-winning producer with over two decades of television promotion experience. He has produced original creative content for WLVI television in Boston WGN-TV in Chicago and is currently a senior-level creative writer and producer with Turner Sports. He is responsible for curating promotional elements for major league sporting events such as The NBA All-Star Game, March Madness, and MLB Conference Championship series, to highlight a few.
He is a member of The National Association of Black Journalists, works closely with multiple community organizations, and is an active member within multiple alumni organizations.
Kyle resides in Atlanta with his wife Carla and two precocious daughters, Nia (14) and Naomi (10).