Facing Race: A National Conference in St. Louis, MO — November 20-22, 2024

Judith Browne Dianis

Executive Director | Advancement Project
Pronouns: she/her/hers
Judith Browne Dianis is a movement lawyer, who helped start Advancement Project in 1999. Known as the Godmother of the school-to-prison pipeline movement, Judith has also supported grassroots organizations on a range of issues including policing in the midst of police violence crises and community uprisings. Under her leadership, Advancement Project is a convener of the Police Free Schools national campaign and supports defund and other abolitionist campaigns in several cities. She is also known for her decades of work on voting rights issues. Dianis is appears on MSNBC regularly. She's a graduate of Columbia Law School.

Instagram: @jbrownedianis

Presentations from Facing Race 2022

How Cops Get Off

How Cops Get Off is a three-part animated video series developed by the Advancement Project in collaboration with our board member, actor/activist Jesse Williams. Narrated by Jesse, each four-minute video in the series breaks down the systems, culture, and laws that keep cops in power and unaccountable: the dominant narrative in tv shows, movies, and news, the protectors within our criminal legal system like prosecutors and police associations, and the laws that shields cops from accountability like qualified immunity. The session will screen the short series and discuss these systems and narratives. And, we will talk about shifts we need including what real justice looks like. We will share resources for communities to have discussions about policing and abolition as well as highlight campaigns that are in progress.

Speakers: Judith Browne Dianis, Shanelle Matthews, Jennifer Dillon

Presentations from Facing Race 2020

Where Do We Go From Here? Building a Just Multiracial Democracy

As Reverend Barber argues, we find ourselves in the Third Reconstruction. Like all previous reconstructions, Black leaders are at the forefront, collectively moving us towards liberation and justice. When we think about what it means to build a truly just, multiracial democracy, what are the core questions that we need to answer? This plenary will draw on the brilliance and wisdom of Black leaders across our movement to answer the fundamental questions of our time, including what it looks like to center the experiences of Black and Indigenous people in practice, why we need to build multi-racial solidarity across communities of color, how we tackle core issues of immigration, land rights, and a reimagining of our justice system, and what's needed for us to lean into intersectionality in more meaningful ways. Panelists will share concrete actions that participants can take to help us build new possibilities for our future. The title from this session draws from Dr. King’s final book “Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?” which is deeply resonant in this moment. The legacy of our ancestors rests on our shoulders; it is up to us to use this crossroads in our country’s history to make our democracy finally meet the needs of our communities.

Speakers: Glenn Harris, Eric Ward, Michael McAfee, Judith Browne Dianis, Andrea Jenkins

Forging A Just, Multiracial Democracy Through Cross Racial Movement Building Part 2

American demographics are changing. By 2050, the U.S. population will become predominantly people of color. Even today, we see the importance of building Dr. King’s “Beloved Community.” Toward this end, the W. K. Kellogg Foundation has brought nine leading national racial justice organizations into community with each other, a cross-racial coalition collectively known as the Racial Equity Anchor Institutions (the “Anchors”). They are: Advancement Project, Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum, Demos, Faith in Action, NAACP, National Congress of American Indians, National Urban League, Race Forward, and UnidosUS. This session will feature the Anchor organization principals discussing the nature and value of their joint work. It will share how they have learned to work together (which hasn’t always been easy or smooth), and the promising ways they are collaborating to ensure a robust, inclusive democracy, leading to the Beloved Community. By creating multi-racial messaging campaigns, the Anchors have advanced an empowering vision of common purpose and destiny. Overcoming the greatest challenges our nation faces depends on such collaboration, healing, learning, and growing together. The Anchors’ joint work has empowered their shared racial equity priorities, while also cultivating stronger multi-racial coalitions at the local level. Session attendees will learn about the benefits of strategic trust building and structured collaboration, key research findings about communities of color, effective strategies for increasing turnout in elections, responding to contested elections and Census participation, and insightful perspectives on how and why to grow multi-racial movements nationally and locally.

Speakers: Sabeel Rahman, Marc Morial, Derrick Johnson, Judith Browne Dianis

Presentations from Facing Race 2018

Dispatches from Cleveland

Dispatches from Cleveland is a documentary in five parts that closely examines the Midwestern city of Cleveland, Ohio, one of the most racially divided cities in America, in the wake of the police murder of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. The film follows ordinary people – long shaken by police misconduct, social discrimination, and poverty – whose love for their home pushes them to work together to bring about real change.

Featuring post-screening Q&A with filmmaker Cat Gund, Judith Browne Dianis with the Advancement Project, and Jonathan Stith with the Alliance for Educational Justice. Moderated by Ohio Organizing Collaborative's DaMareo Cooper.

Speakers: Catherine Gund, Judith Browne Dianis, Jonathan Stith, DaMareo Cooper

Policing Race – the Intersection of Policing, Immigration, and School Criminalization

Communities of color across the United States are under siege by an unforgiving and destructive police state. While there is positive movement to transform laws that lead to over-criminalization, many communities still feel the brunt of a system infected with structural racism that includes unfair laws that criminalize even the most minor actions, contact with biased police that operate under policies that breed a culture of violence, and a correctional system that serves as a disposal system. Unjust law enforcement policies and practices, and a racist culture of police violence have poured into our public schools, specifically schools serving Black and Brown children, and continue to manifest in our neighborhoods and in immigration enforcement through ICE raids, 287G arraignments, gang databases, and the deputizing of local police departments.

As a result, communities and families have been devastated, lacking a sense of safety and justice. Grassroots organizations who can hold systems accountable must be at the forefront for there to be sustainable change. These communities should be engaged in reimagining safety.

This workshop will explore the interconnectedness of policing, immigration enforcement, school militarization that prohibits our communities from living free and safe. Through presentation, sharing and activities, participants will explore design of campaigns to that connect our communities, work and vision of safety. Participants will be provided with tools to wage intersectional efforts to address these issues within their communities.

Speakers: Judith Browne Dianis, Jonathan Stith, Carlos Garcia, Todd St. Hill

Presentations from Facing Race 2016

Using Organizing and Legal Tactics to Resist the Privatization of Public Schools

In Chicago, 50 public schools were closed in 2013. That same year, 23 schools were closed in Philadelphia. The "education reform" movement has exploded--backed by investors and philanthropists seeking to privatize education by capitalizing on our flawed accountability system and its overreliance on high-stakes testing and evaluations. The result is an explosion of school closures, takeovers, and a surplus of unaccountable charter schools. These "education experiments" are imposed primarily on Black and Brown neighborhoods--that have experienced decades of education disinvestment-- and have led to deep resource disparities and the loss of these important community institutions. Communities are resisting these harmful policies through organizing and legal tactics. This session will feature lawyers and organizers who will share the successes and challenges of these legal and organizing tactics and emphasize the need for sustainable community schools. Panelists will share opportunities to get involved in a unified fight against privatization by targeting federal policymakers. Through an interactive activity or small groups, participants will then be invited to share some of their tactics & brainstorm others -- followed by a Q&A period.

Speakers: Jitu Brown, Judith Browne Dianis, Natasha Capers, Sharon Smith

Presentations from Facing Race 2014

The Need for a Racial Justice Intervention in Education Reform

This panel of teachers, advocates and education experts will examine the history of the achievement gap. In particular the workshop will cover how it's been used as a justification for privatized school reform efforts and wedging big divisions between communities of color and traditionally liberal education advocates (eg unions, teachers, etc.).

Speakers: Chela Delgado, Judith Browne Dianis, Hany Khalil, Julianne Hing

Presentations from Facing Race 2012

Now What? Debriefing the Election and Talking Governance

This session features political luminaries reflecting on lessons from the 2012 and the agenda we need to set for policymakers in the coming years. Includes racial dimensions of electoral turnout, voting rights, the economy, immigration and more.

Speakers: Judith Browne Dianis, Jacqueline Johnson Pata, Kai Wright