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Devon J. Crawford

Fighting for Human and Civil Rights through Nonviolent Direct Action

Senior Fellow Devon J. Crawford (right)

For years, Devon Jerome Crawford has been engaged in the fight for human and civil rights as an organizer, activist, and Christian minister.

“My philosophy for social and reparatory justice is rooted in an ethic of love, peace, and compassion as I strive for the realization of the beloved world community.”

Devon’s  activism is rooted in his own lived experience as a child of “Dynamite Hill” in Birmingham, Alabama — also notoriously known as “Bombingham.” The legacy of resistance to racialized domestic terrorism, education segregation, and economic apartheid has shaped his worldview and sense of purpose to this day.

While matriculating at Morehouse College, Devon was elected to serve as president of the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel Assistants Program and named the 2015 Martin Luther King Jr Scholar. Following the killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri, Devon, along with members of Black Lives Matter at Morehouse and Spelman College, organized over 500 students to protest, march, and testify before former Attorney General Eric Holder and US Department of Justice officials advocating for bolstered community policing and the abolition of a militarized police force. The Movement for Black Lives inspired Devon to merge the academic training he was receiving at Morehouse, and later at the University of Chicago Divinity School, with a calling and passion to do justice. Humanity in Action came in the perfect time in Devon’s life to help him connect the dots between the freedom struggles of the United States to the struggles happening around our world.

“The relationships I formed during the John Lewis Fellowship have continued to enrich my professional work and pursuits to advocate on behalf of the most vulnerable.”

After the grand jury from Cuyahoga County in Ohio decided not to indict the officer involved in killing Tamir Rice, Devon began organizing with the national NAACP Youth and College Division and the Chicago Southside NAACP to host the Courageous Together Youth Summit to train and equip scholar activists to develop an agenda on health equity, voter registration, climate justice, economic parity, education, and criminal justice reform.

This would act as his Action Project and a stepping stone to the NAACP-Humanity in Action  Professional Fellowship. During his Professional Fellowship, he registered new voters and trained young people in NAACP chapters around the country in the philosophy of nonviolent direct action. This opportunity is one that has deeply shaped Devon’s career path.

  • Minister Devon J. Crawford being arrested after nonviolent disobedience over the Chicago police's handling of the police shooting and murder of Laquan McDonald in Chicago.
  • Minister Devon J. Crawford, among other ministers and Rev. Cornell Brooks in Mobile, Al after an 8 hour sit-in demanding Jeff Sessions withdraw his name from consideration as US attorney general.

After the NAACP-Humanity in Action Fellowship, Devon co-founded the People’s Consortium for Civil and Human Rights, Inc. TPC has trained young people in nonviolent direct action and supported progressive campaigns throughout the United States since its inception using nonviolent direct action. In 2017, they led a 112 mile march from Charlottesville, VA to Washington, DC to challenge domestic terrorism and white supremacist violence in the United States following the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville. “I am inspired by the witness and hope of my elders. In spite of the trauma and tragedies they’ve experienced, they continue to believe in the possibility of a greater way of relating to each other rooted in Ubuntu.”

Devon’s works to organize faith communities continues in his current role as the inaugural Director of the William Monroe Trotter Collaborative for Social Justice at Harvard University. On Devon’s current involvement with Humanity in Action,

“[Humanity in Action] continues to resource and inform my advocacy through conferences, webinars, and genuine friendships that continue to restore my faith in the possibility of a world changed by radical love and prophetic action.”

Learn more about Devon’s involvements: