The Future of Progressive Politics: Praxis and Strategy
The Institute for Public Knowledge’s Race and Public Space workshop and the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis at NYU invite you to join us for a double panel on practical solutions concerning criminal justice reform and the future of progressive politics. The first panel features representatives from three organizations dedicated to criminal justice: Ezra Ritchin of the Bronx Freedom Fund (a charitable bail organization), members of the Kids Freedom Fund (a bail fund founded and managed by kids), and Amanda Lawson of Dollar Bail Brigade (an organization of NYU students who bail people out of jail using funds raised by the Kids Freedom Fund). Immediately following that will be a conversation between Michael Ralph, a professor of Social and Cultural Analysis at NYU, and Claire Sandberg, who as National Digital Organizing Director for Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination was the architect of his volunteer-driven strategy.
Kids Freedom Fund (Semai and Sofia Ralph, Judah and Lila Angert): Semai is a 4th grader at Ballet Tech, and dances on scholarship with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. Sofia is a 3rd grader at PS 41, The Greenwich Village School, and a nationally ranked chess player. Judah is a 7th grader at PS 289 in Manhattan. He DJs professionally, most recently at the PS 41 Winter Wonderland. Lila is a 3rd grader at PS 41, The Greenwich Village School, and is an accomplished potter and seamstress.
Amanda Lawson is a sophomore at NYU College of Arts and Science, majoring in Public Policy and double-minoring in Philosophy and Poverty Studies through the school of Social Work. Amanda currently serves as Broome’s President, and is a Broome Innovation grant recipient for her work interning with the Bronx Freedom Fund, a charitable bail organization serving incarcerated low-income black and brown communities. Through the guidance of the Fund, Amanda founded the Dollar Bail Brigade, a volunteer group of 98 NYU residents who bail innocent NYC residents incarcerated on just a $1 bail. The fledgling nonprofit has successfully freed 10 people to date and Amanda hopes to leverage the brigade’s success to pressure policymakers to reform and abolish the dollar bail practice. She also interns at the Innocence Project, working in the Strategic Litigation department, working to exonerate the wrongly-convicted and influence policy change to move towards eradicating structural inequality within the criminal system, a particularly personal driving interest for Amanda’s future career plans.
Michael Ralph is associate professor in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis and Director of Metropolitan Studies at New York University. He has published in Social Text, Souls, and South Atlantic Quarterly. He is a member of the Social Text Editorial Collective, the Souls Editorial Working Group, and the editorial boards of Transforming Anthropology and Sport in Society.
Ezra Ritchin is Project Director of the Bronx Freedom Fund, a nonprofit founded in 2007 to pay bail for those who can’t afford it. The Bronx Freedom Fund restores the presumption of innocence, allowing clients to return home to their jobs, families, and communities while they fight misdemeanor charges. The Fund has secured the release of nearly 800 marginalized New Yorkers. Ezra previously taught middle school math and mock trial, and led an enrichment program for homeless and formerly homeless teenagers in New York City. A graduate of Yale University, he launched a reentry program in a youth prison in Connecticut and taught GED and English language classes in the New Haven jail.
Claire Sandberg directed the Bernie Sanders campaign’s distributed organizing program as national digital organizing director, and was an architect of the campaign’s volunteer-driven strategy. The Bernie distributed program empowered volunteers to host over 80,000 events, make over 83 million phone calls, and send over 10 million peer-to-peer text messages. Prior to the Bernie campaign, Claire spent five years fighting the fossil fuel industry and helped to launch the movement to ban fracking in New York. She’s a cofounder of #AllofUs, which recently launched WeWillReplaceYou.org to support primary challenges to establishment Democrats who fail to resist Trump.