John Lewis Fellowship Program in Atlanta

Program Description

The 2019 theme for the Humanity in Action John Lewis Fellowship (JLF) in Atlanta is “Grassroots Solidarities: Interrogating the Past and Navigating the Present to Prepare for the Future.” From July 1 – 31, JLF fellows will take part in collaborative experiential learning through dialogue, reflection, problem-solving, and service around the question: How do solidarities coalesce and coalitions form across cleavages of race, culture, sex, class, and region?

Since the earliest European colonial conquests in the Americas, Indigenous and African peoples fought for freedom by making common cause with each other and by forging unity of purpose within their own ranks. The anti-slavery and civil rights movements that extended those traditions likewise relied on multiracial, cross-class, and transnational solidarities to accomplish hard-won political reforms. Today, despite reactionary backlash against them, struggles for freedom and justice are once again on the upswing in the United States. From Black Lives Matter and the #MeToo movement to the DREAMers movement and the March for Our Lives, various stakeholders are speaking up and talking back to the systemic intimidation and violence that has marginalized certain populations within and beyond the U.S. As these movements press forward, history reminds us that social change is difficult and often slow. Change is seldom the result of a single event or the labors of a solitary figure or group. Rather, enduring social transformation requires cultural change and people-power forged through the simultaneous efforts of many groups working across social lines.

Coalitions involve diverse individuals or member groups creating a unifying identity and common purpose to achieve a shared goal. Coalitions tend to be tactical agreements between organizations, while solidarities reflect bonds of unity within or across groups. Instead of focusing on the issues that divide, the 2019 JLF program emphasizes the ties that bind in order to understand why coalitions emerge, what their internal “cultures” are, what makes them effective, and why they at times fall apart. At essence, the fellowship theme is designed to illuminate the potentialities of allyship, solidarity, and unified action among diverse identity, class, and interest groups. To this end, fellows will explore robust examples from the past and the present of coalition building in Atlanta and elsewhere in the region that can inform their own allied work for human rights, culture change, and democratic inclusion. Centering our inquiry on historical and contemporary resistance to systemic racism in the U.S. South and foregrounding the solidarity formation of ordinary working people, Atlanta fellows will encounter the major participants, strategies, and tactics of coalitional organizing in the region, including exemplars of arts-based civic engagement, immigrant integration, prison reform, rural development, electoral mobilization, interfaith collaboration, and environmental, economic, and housing rights advocacy. As our geographical home base, Atlanta’s particular history of inter-racial conflict and reconciliation provides an essential departure and site of deep involvement with these concerns.

In addition, fellowship participants will take their learning on-the-road for excursions beyond Atlanta where they will learn about different communities of practice that are growing today’s justice movements. Fellows will learn directly from women and men of color and their allies, who stand up for social and economic equity through education, artistic expression, and advocacy surrounding the issues that most impact their lives. Fellows will also have several opportunities in Atlanta to build personal leadership capacity through service learning and skills workshops. The workshops, which are intended to support the conceptualization and design of fellows’ action projects, include practical training in project planning, campaign development, media production, participatory and applied research, and group/dialogue facilitation.

Ultimately, fellows will leave Atlanta better equipped to examine their own internalized prejudice, analyze structural injustice from different group standpoints, and advance change in their local communities through the power and promise of alliance building and coalitional organizing. 


2018 Agenda


During the first week of the 2018 John Lewis Fellowship Program, the Fellows will be formally welcomed to the program by Humanity in Action and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. They will check into their residences in the Georgia State University dormitories and meet each other and the program staff at an opening dinner at the historic Paschal’s restaurant. The first day of formal programming will be spent at the Center for Civil and Human Rights. The Fellows will be welcomed to the City of Atlanta, and they will tour the Center’s exhibit.

One of the many exhibits at the Center showcases Dr. Martin Luther King’s profound observation that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” The truth at the heart of this statement animates the mission of the John Lewis Fellowship Program which is to educate, empower and inspire the Fellows, in a time when norms, policies and laws designed to protect against human rights abuses are vulnerable and under siege. The Fellows’ course of study is not an existential exercise; rather, it is centered on the quintessential role of people in ensuring that the moral arc of our societies and communities continuously bends in the direction of justice and the preservation of human rights. In recognition of the reality that democracy, human rights, civil rights, diversity and justice require the vigilant stewardship of conscientious people committed to the preservation of these principles, each program presenter and participant will be asked to share with the Fellows the ways in which they have served as “arc benders.” The insight, experiences and wisdom shared during the program will shape the Fellows’ final program presentations, in which each will express how the fellowship program has informed their capacity to be an “arc bender” and the area of human rights to which they plan to devote themselves and their work.

The panels, presentations, workshops, excursions, and experiences that comprise the fellowship program will lead the fellows to a greater appreciation of themselves as necessary to the human rights project as “arc benders” committed to using their talent and passion to benefit their communities, cities and countries. This first week of the program provides Fellows with an opportunity to consider Atlanta’s rich civil rights history, including the spaces and places where movements and protests were planned and executed and to learn how our history informs contemporary human and civil rights issues, such as discriminatory voting and immigration laws practices and policies, that are repeating themselves in both form and substance. 

July 10

Fellows Check-In & Welcome Reception

9:00AM - 2:00PM: Fellows arrive and check in

7:00PM - 9:00PM: Welcome Reception

July 11

Introduction to the Center for Civil and Human Rights and Program Orientation 

9:00AM - 9:30AM: Greeting and Introduction to National Center for Civil and Human Rights 

  • Brian Tolleson (Interim CEO, National Center for Civil and Human Rights)
  • Professor Tanya Washington (Program Director, John Lewis Fellowship Program) 

9:30AM - 10:30AM: Welcome to Atlanta

  • André Dickens (Atlanta City Councilmember Post 3 at Large)

10:30AM - 11:15AM: Review of Program Content, Fellow Program Presentations (Final Week) and Program Rules and Policies

  • Professor Tanya Washington
  • Ufuk Kâhya  (Associate Director, John Lewis Fellowship Program) 

10:45PM - 12:00PM: Community Building Exercise

  • Ufuk Kâhya

1:30PM - 4:30PM: Fellows tour National Center for Civil and Human Rights Exhibition

4:30PM - 6:00PM: Fellows’ Reaction to Center Exhibit & Introduction to Final Program Project

  • Derrick Pope (President and Managing Director of the Arc of Justice Institute)  
6:00PM - 6:15PM: Daily Wrap-Up

July 12

Preserving History: Atlanta’s Civil Rights Legacy

9:00AM - 10:30AM: An Appeal for Human Rights

  • Dr. Roslyn Pope (Author of An Appeal for Human Rights)

11:00AM - 3:00PM: Civil Rights Tour 

3:00PM - 4:30PM: Martin Luther King National Historic Park  

  • Dr. Bernice King (CEO, The King Center)

6:00PM - 8:00PM: Know Your Rights, Defend Your Rights Workshop

  • Azadeh Shahshahani (Human Rights Attorney, Legal and Advocacy Director, Project South)

July 13

9:00AM - 9:10AM: Morning Announcements 

9:10AM - 9:30AM: 2 Fellows’ Individual Presentations 

9:30AM - 12:00M: One Person No Vote 

  • Dr. Carole Anderson (Professor and Chair of the African American Studies Department, Emory University and author of One Person No Vote)

1:30PM - 3:30PM: The Franchise: Voting Rights, Challenges and Responsibilities 

  • Nse Ufot (Executive Director, The New Georgia Project)

4:00PM - 5:00PM: Fellows’ Reflection Circle 

5:00PM - 5:15PM: Daily Wrap-Up 

July 14

No programming.  


During the second week of the 2018 John Lewis Fellowship Program, the Fellows will focus on how historical facts and collective memories are constructed and shaped in ways that can liberate and marginalize. Fellows will have an opportunity to compare and contrast museum exhibits that speak to the same “history” in ways that cast and characterize people and events in very different ways. The will consider the backlash experienced by sports figures like Mohammed Ali, who were maligned for their political activism, and whether there are echoes of that history in current NFL polices about athletes’ rights to support social justice movements during games. They will contrast the very different histories reflected in Stone Mountain Park and the Montgomery, Alabama Museum and Memorial, and consider the tensions between calls to preserve and remove confederate monuments. The Fellows will reflect on the history of First Nation People and consider how colonialism has obscured their existence and their right to the land the nation occupies. Fellows will consider the entrenched framework of white supremacy which has historically manufactured hierarchies that continue to marginalize and discriminate against individuals and communities. Fellows will explore, through speakers and film, how science has been used to justify this supremacist framework, and how the resulting inequity creates health disparities for people and communities. The Fellows will also work in groups to define and devise restorative justice approaches to solving specific human and civil rights challenges. 

July 15

1:00PM - 3:00PM: 12 Rounds of Glory: The Story of Muhammad Ali 

July 16

Science, Sports and Supremacy: A Question of Humanity 

9:00AM - 9:10AM: Morning Announcements  

  • Ufuk Kâhya  (Associate Director, John Lewis Fellowship Program)

9:10AM - 10:00AM: 5 Fellows’ Individual Presentations

10:00AM - 12:00PM: Using Sport as a Platform for Protest and Social Justice

  • Mawuli Davis (Founding Partner, Davis Bozeman Law Firm, Civil Rights Attorney)
  • Tommia Dean
  • Kennedy Town
  • Shlondra Young
  • Taylor McIver
  • Michaelyn Wright
  • Devante Lewis

1:30PM - 2:30PM: Democracy in Peril (Presentation and Discussion)

  • Dr. Judith Goldstein (Founder and Executive Director, Humanity in Action)

2:45PM - 3:30PM: Fellows’ Reflection Circle 

6:00PM - 9:00PM: A Dangerous Idea (Film Screening and Panel Discussion)

  • Dr. Judith Goldstein (Founder and Executive Director, Humanity in Action)
  • Professor Paul Lombardo (Law Professor and Eugenics Expert, Georgia State College of Law)
  • Andrew Kimbrell (Executive Producer and Co-Writer, A Dangerous Idea)

July 17

Historical Redux: Persistent Patterns of Discrimination

9:00AM - 9:10AM: Museum Welcome 

9:10AM - 9:30AM: 2 Fellows’ Individual Presentations 

9:30AM - 10:15AM: Fellows’ Reflection Circle 

10:30AM - 12:00PM: Darktown 

  • Thomas Mullen (Acclaimed Author of Historical Fiction)

1:30PM - 3:30PM: Guided Tour of Health is a Human Right: Race and Place in America Exhibit

  • Dr. Kim R. Ramsey-White (Director, Bachelors of Science Program, Georgia State University School of Public Health)

3:45PM - 5:00PM: Health Disparities and Dichotomies 

  • Dr. Nathan Furukawa (Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer, Center for Disease Control)

5:00PM - 5:15PM: Daily Wrap-Up 

6:00PM - 8:00PM: At the Speed of Sound: Tracing the Civil Rights Movement Through Music 

  • Dr. Dwight Andrews (Professor of Music, Emory University and Head Pastor, First Congregational Church)
  • Dr. Regina Bradley (Assistant Professor of English and African Diaspora Studies at Kennesaw State University)
  • Richard Morton (Musician, Performer, Social Worker, Civil Rights Veteran and Historian)
  • Ms. Rutha Harris (Original Freedom Singer, Albany, Georgia)

July 18

Divergent Histories and Memories and Symbols of the Confederacy

9:00AM - 9:10AM: Morning Announcements  

9:10AM - 10:15AM: The Canary Effect (Movie)

10:00AM - 12:00PM: Panel on The Native American Experience: Contemporary Challenges  

1:00PM - 2:30PM: Mayor’s Task Force on Confederate Monuments

2:45PM – 8:00PM: Fellows tour Stone Mountain

July 19

An Exploration of Restoration: Perspectives on What Justice Looks Like

9:00AM - 9:10AM: Morning Announcements  

9:10AM - 9:30AM: 2 Fellows Provide Individual Presentations

9:30AM - 12:00PM: Fellows’ Country Presentations

1:30PM – 4:00PM: Restorative Justice Workshop: A Means of and An End to Achieving Empowerment

  • Professor David Hooker (Professor of the Practice of Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame)

4:15PM – 5:15PM: Fellows’ Reflection Circle

5:45PM-5:30PM: Daily Wrap-Up

July 20

Of Museums, Memories and Memorials: Documenting A History of Racial Violence

8:00AM – 6:00PM: Trip to The Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice

July 21

No programming.  


During the Fellows’ third week of programming, they will explore the diverse ways people and organizations engage and express activism and resistance. The Fellows will visit the historic Ebenezer Church for a worship service, which was Dr. Martin Luther King’s pastoral home and which has as its mission a commitment to “social transformation.” The Fellows will also experience the power of political organizing and engagement with the New Georgia Project and their efforts to engage single females, millennials, and people of color as voters toward its goal of registering 1 million new voters by 2020. Fellows will learn about Maynard Jackson, the first black Mayor of Atlanta, and how his political career and legacy continue to inform the current political, social and economic landscape of Atlanta. Fellows will work on group projects addressing the demand side of child trafficking, and they will explore the power of spoken word as a way of creating collective engagement and coalition building around shared experiences and shared human and civil rights goals. Fellows will be exposed to the work of Freedom University, which works to prepare and place undocumented students in colleges and universities across the U.S., and they will watch the PBS Documentary, Get in the Way, which chronicles the life and legacy of the fellowship’s namesake, Congressman John Lewis. Fellows will end the week learning about Congressman Lewis’ pivotal role in freeing fifteen young girls, ages 12- 18, who were arrested for protesting segregated spaces and who were held captive in a stockade for 63 days, in Leesburg, Georgia in 1963. 

July 22

The King Church 

11:30AM – 1:00PM: Ebenezer Church Service

July 23

What Do We Do With History-Induced Pain and Shame?

9:00AM - 9:10AM: Morning Announcements  

9:10AM - 9:30AM: 2 Fellows Provide Individual Presentations

9:30AM - 12:00PM: Fellows’ Reflection Circle on Montgomery Museum/Memorial

1:30PM - 4:00PM: Under My Hood Truth Experience Workshop

  • Coleman G. Howard (Author, Speaker and Poet)

4:15PM – 4:30PM: Daily Wrap-Up

July 24

9:00AM - 9:10AM: Morning Announcements  

9:30AM - 11:00AM: Immigration Panel

11:15AM – 12:30PM: Immigration Panel (Emiko Soltis, Shana Tabak and Freedom U students)

2:00PM – 6:00PM: Voter Engagement Experience

  • The New Georgia Project
  • Nse Ufot (Executive Director, New Georgia Project)

July 25

Echoes of the Past: Modern Day Slavery and Human Trafficking 

10:30AM - 10:45AM: Morning Announcements  

10:45AM – 11:00AM: 4 Fellows’ Individual Presentations

11:00AM - 12:00PM: Fellows’ Reflection Circle

1:30PM – 4:00PM: Workshop: Stemming the Supply of Children by Addressing the Demand

  • Dr. Deborah Richardson (Executive Director, International Human Trafficking Institute)

4:15PM – 4:30PM: Daily Wrap-Up

6:00PM – 8:00PM: Get In The Way (Film Screening: PBS Documentary on Congressman John Lewis)

July 26

Children in the Movement

9:30AM – 6:00PM: Fellows visit Stockade in Leesburg, Georgia and visit and have lunch at the Civil Rights Institute in Albany, Georgia

July 27

Artivism: The Art of Activist Storytelling

9:30AM – 12:30PM: Workshop: Telling the Human Rights Story Through Dramatic Performance

6:00PM – 8:00PM: Lulu and the Girls of Americus (Film Screening)

July 28

6:00PM – 9:00PM: Maynard Holbrook Jackson Jr.: Reflections on His Legacy (Film Screening and Panel Discussion)

  • Shirley Franklin (Executive Director, Maynard Holbrook Jackson Jr.: Reflections on His Legacy; Former Mayor of the City of Atlanta, 2002-2010)
  • Professor Derek Alphran
  • Attorney Rodney Strong


During the final week of the program, the Fellows will turn their attention to the examination of local challenges facing the City of Atlanta, including: providing for the human treatment of Atlanta’s growing homeless population while, devising effective strategies for increasing the inventory of affordable housing in the City; addressing gentrification that is occurring as a result of economic development and the absence of safeguards to protect long-term residents and communities; mitigating significant racial and class-based disparities in access to transit, affordable housing and employment; and the need for criminal justice reform and addressing the devastating effects of police brutality and mass incarceration on individuals and communities of color. Fellows will hear from activists, organizers, organizations and lawyers who have devoted themselves and their talent to fashioning and executing long-term and short-term solutions to systemic problems plaguing people and communities in Atlanta and across the nation. They will explore the unique challenges and experiences of the LGBTQ community and consider whether their contributions to the civil rights movement were minimized in ways that were at odds with the principles of inclusion, equity and equality at the heart of the movement’s mission. They will examine the challenges and utility of coalition building and interest convergence in today’s polarized political climate and consider how human and civil rights movements must guard against reproducing and further entrenching the hierarchies they endeavor to dismantle. The Fellows will present their final program projects and end the week at a closing ceremony honoring Congressman Lewis and the legacy of activism that the Fellowship is created to highlight and continue. 

July 29

A Spoken Word Experience

6:00PM - 9:00PM: Under My Hood Truth Experience

  • Coleman G. Howard (Author, Speaker and Poet)

July 30

In Black and Blue: Criminal (In)Justice

9:30AM – 11:30 AM: Courthouse Visit

  • Judge Renata Turner (Fulton County Judge)

1:30PM – 2:30PM: American Civil Liberties Union Office Visit

  • Attorney Andrea Young (Executive Director, ACLU of Georgia)

3:15PM – 4:30PM: The Politics of Mass Incarceration

  • Marshall “Eddie” Conway (Author, Speaker, Organizer Former Black Panther Party Member and One of the Longest Incarcerated Political Prisoners in the United States)

4:45PM – 6:00PM: Creating Justice in a Challenged System

  • Attorney Tiffany Roberts (Civil Rights Attorney)
  • Attorney Gary Spencer (Civil Rights Attorney)
  • Attorney Atteeyah Hollie (Senior Staff Attorney, Southern Center for Human Rights)
  • Xochitl Bervera (Director, Racial Justice Action Center)
  • Nora Benavidez (Civil Rights Attorney)

6:00PM – 6:15PM: Daily Wrap-Up

July 31

Coalitions Of Intersecting Identity Groups: Creating An Inclusive Human Rights Agenda

9:00AM - 9:10AM: Morning Announcements  

9:10AM – 11:00AM: 10 Fellows’ Individual Presentations

11:15AM – 12:15PM: Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin (Film)

1:30PM – 3:15PM: Panel on LGBTQ Rights, Challenges and Experiences

3:30PM – 4:45 PM: Fellows’ Reflection Circle

4:45PM – 5:00PM: Daily Wrap-Up

August 1

The Resurgence of the Poor People’s Campaign

9:00AM - 9:10AM: Morning Announcements  

9:10AM – 11:00AM: Homelessness in the Midst of Plenty

  • Mayor Bottoms’ Homelessness Task Force Members

11:15PM – 12:00PM: Fellows’ Reflection Circle

1:30PM – 3:00PM: A Tale of Two Cities: Displacement, Gentrification and Development in Atlanta

  • The Housing Justice League
  • The Turner Field Community Benefits Coalition

3:15PM – 4:30PM: The Transformative Power of Transit

  • The Transformation Alliance
  • Deborah Scott (Executive Director, Georgia StandUp)

4:30PM – 5:30PM: Fellows’ Reflection Circle

5:30PM – 5:45PM: Daily Wrap-Up

August 2

Fellows’ Final Program Presentations

9:00AM - 9:10AM: Morning Announcements  

9:10AM – 10:30AM: Fellows’ Presentations (4)

10:45AM – 12:05PM: Fellows’ Presentations (4)

1:30PM – 3:00PM: Fellows’ Presentations (4)

6:00PM – 8:00PM: Conscious Canvasses Activism and Art

August 3

No programming.  

August 4

Fellows’ Final Program Presentations

10:00AM – 11:20AM: Fellows’ Presentations (4)

11:35AM – 12:15PM: Fellows’ Presentations (2)

1:30PM – 3:00PM: Fellows’ Presentations (4)

3:20PM - 4:45PM: Fellows’ Presentations (4)

August 5

10:00AM - 1:00PM: Farewell Brunch Honoring Congressman John Lewis