Facing Race Announces Keynote Speakers Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon and Toshi Reagon

June 4, 2014 (New York, NY) – Race Forward: The Center For Racial Justice Innovation is pleased to announce that keynote speakers for this year’s Facing Race National Conference will be Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon and Toshi Reagon. Facing Race: A National Conference is presented by Race Forward and will be held in Dallas, Texas, November 13-15, 2014. This year’s location will allow Facing Race to focus on the unique aspects of organizing in the South and the work that has been done and is currently taking place.

Bernice Johnson Reagon, a scholar, singer/songleader, and activist for over half a century, has been a profound contributor to African American and American culture. Born in Southwest Georgia, her singing style and traditional repertoire are grounded in her experiences in church, school, and political activism. As a composer, she has created a narrative of her social and political activism through her songs and larger compositions. She performed as a member of the SNCC Freedom Singers during the sixties; founded an all women a capella ensemble, The Harambee Singers, during the Black Cultural Movement; and founded and led the internationally acclaimed Sweet Honey In The Rock for thirty years until retirement. Paralleling her work in music, Reagon is one of the leading authorities in African American Cultural History. 

Her strongest musical collaborator is her daughter, Toshi Reagon. Described as “a one-woman celebration of all that’s dynamic, progressive and uplifting in American music," Toshi is a composer, producer, founder, and leader of her own ensemble, Toshi Reagon and Big Lovely. Taking the stage at 17, singer, songwriter, guitarist Toshi Reagon moves audiences with her cross genre offerings of blues, rock, gospel, and incredible original songs. Collaboratively, these two socially conscious women artists have masterfully created two operas, “The Temptation of St Anthony” and “Zinnias: The Life of Clementine Hunter.” They also created the music scores for “Africans in America” on PBS and “BEAH: A Black Woman Speaks” for HBO, in addition to numerous studio recordings. Whenever the opportunity presents itself, Bernice Johnson Reagon and Toshi Reagon join each other on stage in live performance.

“Facing Race is an important way to stay connected to past struggles and triumphs, as we also embrace the intersections of different generations and experiences,” said Rinku Sen, President of Race Forward. “Dr. Reagon and Toshi Reagon have a story to tell that illustrates how art and activism can come together in an intergenerational setting and mobilize us all.”

For more information on the conference, visit raceforward.org/facingrace. Early bird discounted registration is available until June 30 with code “FR14Welcome.” Press passes may be requested by contacting media@raceforward.org.

ABOUT: Race Forward advances racial justice through research, media and practice. Founded in 1981, Race Forward brings systemic analysis and an innovative approach to complex race issues to help people take effective action toward racial equity. Race Forward publishes the daily news site Colorlines and presents Facing Race, the country’s largest multiracial conference on racial justice.