Building One New Jersey 2017 Policy Forum

School Integration and Funding Equity

Two Sides Of The Same Coin

Public schools, public education, and public educators have been under sustained attack.

New Jersey’s racial segregation and its deep fiscal disparities have made it possible.

Building One New Jersey will host a conversation on segregation and school funding with Professor Myron Orfield, law professor, author, civil-rights attorney, and director of the Institute for Metropolitan Opportunity.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017
(On the Eve of the Anniversary of the Brown v. Board Decision)

6:00 PM to 8:00 PM

The James Kerney Campus - 102 N. Broad Street, Trenton, NJ 08608
Mercer County Community College

63 years after theBrowndecision, New Jersey is one of the most economically and racially segregated school systems in the nation – and not coincidentally, it boasts some of the nation’s highest property taxes.

These two forces have combined to exacerbate an already deepening crisis in high poverty urban districts while driving up taxes, widening disparities and fueling resentment in increasingly diverse, middle class suburbs - tensions that have been expertly exploited by those seeking to benefit both politically and financially.  Unless we grapple directly and meaningfully with the glaring issue of racial segregation in our schools and regions, we will be unable to understand and defend against the exploitation of and attacks on public education, educators, and the public sector in general.  And the costs, both human and economic, will continue to rise.

Building One New Jersey is convening this gathering of educators, civil-rights and community leaders from cities and suburbs to discuss the opportunities before us to address both issues - school segregation and fair school funding - together and to seek lasting solutions that move us all closer to the ideals that we as a nation and a state aspire. 

In addition to Professor Orfield, speakers include Thelma Napoleon-Smith, daughter of Berline Williams. Ms. Williams spearheaded the 1944 New Jersey school desegregation case, laying the groundwork for the Brown case ten years later. Also, Andrea Torrice, award winning documentary filmmaker and producer of the new film Fire of Justice, chronicling the struggle of parents and students in an Ohio town that became the setting for the first Northern desegregation case testing the ruling delivered by the Supreme Court 

Following the forum there will be an opportunity for a private viewing of the exhibition Schools for the Colored by renowned photographer Wendell A. White.

For information, to register, or sponsor this important conversation visit buildingoneamerica.org.

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Summit for Inclusive Communities and Sustainable Regions

Building One America will hold its 5th biennial national Summit on July 20-21, 2017

Over the past 8 years, Building One America has worked to bring attention to increasingly diverse, middle-class communities across the country. We see these places as key to building multi-racial, middle and working-class constituencies needed to address some of our nation’s most pressing problems including racial segregation, fair and inclusive economic growth, and sustainable development.

The failure on the part of many of our nation's leaders to recognize and understand these communities has only contributed to the toxic level of polarization we are experiencing today with serious implications for racial injustice, growing economic inequality, environmental degradation and continued government dysfunction.

Because of this failure, our work since our last national summit has focused on engaging and recruiting groups and constituencies with the greatest self-interest in promoting a diverse, inclusive, and growing middle-class while developing a unifying narrative, policy agenda, and an organizing base that helps move us forward as a country.

These groups include:

  • Civil Rights organizations
  • Faith based institutions
  • Organized Labor
  • Local government and school district leadership

The issues we advance:

  • Regional infrastructure investments in water, sewer, road, and transit to promote inclusive middle-class jobs, and bolster diverse and sustainable communities
  • Pubic schools that promote middle-class opportunity while challenging racial segregation and debilitating concentrated poverty
  • Fair housing policies that promote regional diversity, reduce segregation and create stable, healthy communities

The themes we will explore:

  • The state of diverse, middle-class America:
    • Demographic changes: social, economic, racial, and structural
    • The challenges and the promise of diverse middle class suburbs
    • The role of the suburbs in the recent national election and the implications for state and national politics
  • Labor and Civil Rights:
    • Drawing on the lessons of their historic relationship and the power of their still overlapping constituencies and interests
    • Uniting the parallel but intersecting themes of racial justice and economic inequality
  • The crisis and enduring legacy of the ghetto
    • Revealing and understanding the central role of America’s racial apartheid as a force for political polarization; private profits; an attack on the public sector and organized labor; and the exploitation of both the urban poor and suburban middle class.

Organizing we will promote:

  • Participants will be challenged, supported and trained in taking effective and strategic action to better organize their constituencies and coalitions, to defend our shared values, and advance a common agenda.

This year’s summit will not be in DC. It is being hosted by our partner, the Rutgers Center for Urban Research and Education (CURE) led by Paul Jargowsky, author of the book Poverty and Place: Ghettos, Barrios, and the American City, at Rutgers Universality in Camden, NJ. Rutgers is a 7-minute subway ride to and from Center City, Philadelphia. Lodging will be available in downtown Philadelphia near Penn’s Landing as well nearby Cherry Hill, and on the Rutgers campus. Early registration is now avaiable at buildingoneamerica.org or register here:


Click here for info from the 2015 Summit.

Event Date: 

Thursday, July 20, 2017 - 3:00pm to Friday, July 21, 2017 - 4:00pm

Event location: 

Rutgers Campus Center 326 Penn St. Camden, NJ 08102

Event Fee: 

BOA Members $200 Non-Members $250 EARLY REGISTRATION (BEFORE MAY 19) BOA Members $150 Non-Members $200

Building One New Jersey Forum on Race, Place and Opportunity at Princeton University

Policy Forum on Race, Place and Opportunity in New Jersey - Princeton University, December 16, 2016 

Building One New Jersey held an important and powerful forum on Race, Place, and Opportunity at the Frist Campus Center at Princeton University on Friday, December 16, 2016.

The conversation explored the intersection of racial justice and economoc inequlity making a compelling case that the enduring legacy and current crisis of racial and economic segregation in our society is preventing all of us from realizing our full potential politically, socially and economically.

Princeton professor Mitchell Duneierdiscussed his new book Ghetto: The Invention of a Place, the History of an Idea, an important and well-timed examination of the legacy of the ghetto as a 500 year old social, psychological, and physical construct as documented by renowned African American scholars throughout the twentieth century. It is a history that informs our understanding of present day segregation in America including its impact on our current political dysfunction, policy failures and inability to respond effectively - and even speak coherently - to the overlapping issues of racial justice and economic inequality.

Other presenters provided important context including political analysis related to the recent election from Algernon Austin, former director of the Economic Policy Institute's Program on Race and the Economy, and Christopher Niedt of the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University as well as a panel of local leaders including Rutgers law professor Elise Boddie, former director of litigation for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and Gayle Shepard, President of the Montclair Education Association.

The forum closed with a holiday reception and award ceremony recognizing Building One New Jersey’s allies and champions of economic and racial justice including: Montclair Councilman and NJEA Secretary Treasurer, Sean Spiller; John Ballantyneof the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters; William Castner of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield; Reverend Dr. Lester Taylorof the General Baptist Convention; Antoinette Brevardof St. Luke CDC and Marlene Lao-Collinsof Catholic Charities.

There was also moveing a tribute to Mayor Lizette Parker, Building One New Jersey’s 2014 Elected Leader of the Year, who tragically and unexpectedly passed away earlier this year. It was delivered by Teaneck's Deputy Mayor Henry J. Pruitt.

In the aftermath of a bitter presidential fight and the opening of New Jersey’s 2017 race for governor, some might question the relevance of this topic or even its usefulness in light of the racial divide that seems to define our politics today. But racial justice and economic opportunity are not mutually exclusive nor are they competing interests. For working people of all colors and backgrounds, they are inextricably linked and must be untangled if we are to effectively build and sustain multi-racial coalitions powerful enough to advance our common interests and defend our shared values.

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Building One Ohio Labor/Civil Rights Forum

Restoring the Historic and Powerful Alliance

of Labor and Civil Rights

for Racial Justice

and Economic Opportunity

Friday, May 6, 2016 

Cleveland State University, Cleveland, Ohio

The Labor Civil Rights Forum at Cleveland State University was a powerful demonstration of the passion and commitment to build and strengthen a revitalized and unified labor and Civil Rights movement in Ohio. The conference, attended by over 120 prominent labor and Civil Rights leaders from building trade, manufacturing, public sector, and service unions across the state, was ably moderated by Pierrette “Petee” Talley, Secretary-Treasurer of the Ohio State AFL-CIO and Professor Rob Kleidman of CSU.The conference was framed as a conversation to explore the overlapping themes of racial injustice and economic inequality in an effort to create a unifying narrative around issues that impact all working people, families, and communities.

See the opening presentation and Rusk's analysis and presentation here.

Read the BOA Labor/Civil Rights Document here. 

It began with a reminder from A. Philip Randolph Institute President, Clayola Brown of how the historic relationship between organized labor and Civil Rights produced some of the nation’s most important advancements for working people of all colors.

David Rusk, of Building One America showed how, despite gains since the March on Washington, dangerous civil and labor rights reversals have harmed many Americans and weakened both movements. Using demographic and fiscal data, Rusk reveled how deepening segregation by race and class was at the heart of many of the most pressing issues impacting working families of all colors in cities and in suburbs, and how these same trends are used to weaken and attack organized labor in both the public and private sectors.

Marc Bayard, director of the Institute for Policy Studies’ Black Worker Initiative, highlighted the important role of African American workers and leaders in the labor movement historically and how black workers, especially women, are key to a revitalized Labor Movement today.

Two panels of local leaders powerfully illustrated the relevance and validity of all three presentations and the urgency for a new narrative that unifies all three themes. 

A powerful example of that unity was the recognition of Robert E. Richardson Sr., a national Vice President of LIUNA and President of the Cincinnati branch of the NAACP with the E.D. Nixon Crossroads of Leadership Award. Edgar D. Nixon was the powerful NAACP leader in Montgomery, Alabama who recruited Rosa Parks and helped recruit the young Dr. King to lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Less well known was his leadership of A. Philip Randolph’s Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters Union in that city. Like Robert Richardson, E. D. Nixon stood at the powerful intersection of labor and Civil Rights and when the time was right helped light the spark that transformed America.

We also recognized the work and celebrated the life of Mayor Rich Bonde, a dedicated and steadfast friend and leader of Building One Ohio and a courageous champion of social justice. 

Building One American and Building One Ohio want to thank the generous sponsors who made this forum possible: Cleveland State University, The Laborers’ International Union of North America, Laborers’ Local 860, Ohio Education Association, Communications Workers of America District 4, The Laborers’ Local 265, The Ohio Laborers' District Council, Ohio AFL-CIO, Ohio Federation of Teachers, United Steel Workers of America District 1, Greater Cincinnati Building and Construction Trades Council, North Shore AFL-CIO Federation of Labor, Cincinnati Labor Council, A. Philip Randolph Institute, Municipal Foremen & Laborers Union Local 1099, Urban League of Greater Cleveland, Coalition of Black Trade Unionist. 

Building One New Jersey

Restoring the Historic and Powerful Alliance of Labor and Civil Rights for Racial Justice and Economic Opportunity

Building One America held its first in a series Labor / Civil Rights forums in New Jersey on December 17, 2015 with national speakers and local union leaders joined by prominent clergy, civil-rights and civic leaders from across the state.

The forum, expertly moderated by Dr. Diane Campbell and Rev. John Scotland of Building One New Jersey, was opened by Rev. Dr. Guy Campbell, President of the General Baptist Convention followed by a moving primer on the all too forgotten history of organized labor and the civil rights movement by A. Philip Randolph Institute President, Clayola Brown.

After a sobering presentation (the Architecture of Segregation) about the shameful continued existence and dramatic growth of racial segregation in American and the tragic consequences of concentrated poverty by Paul Jargowsky of the Center for Urban Research and Urban Education at Rutgers University, a panel of local leaders provided meaningful context. 

Each offered powerful insight from their own stories and discussed the real-life implications for their organization’s members, families, and communities.

Panelists included Sherryl Gordon of AFSCME Council 1, Sean Spiller from the New Jersey Education Association, Milly Silva with 1199 SEIU, Richard Tolson of the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers and Lionel Leach of the Communication Workers of America Local 1039.

After a stirring call to actionfrom Rev. Terrence Melvin, president of the International Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, leaders from each of the participating labor, religious and civil rights groups committed to participate with Building One New Jersey to build on the day’s success.

They committed to reconvene early in 2016 to initiate a program of leadership training and action to advance and promote economic opportunity and racial inclusion around the issues of housing, schools, jobs and justice.

The day closed with a message of support and solidarity from prominent national NAACP board member, Ambassador Philip Murphy.

Building One New Jersey and Building One America want to thank the generous sponsors who made this forum possible: Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of NJ, Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters, IUOE Local 68, LIUNA Local 55, Local 195, IFPTE, Senate President Steve Sweeney, NJ Education Association, PBA Local 105, SEIU 1199, AFSCME Council 1, Shiloh Baptist Church, Isles, Inc, Community Presbyterian Church, CWA Local 1039, CWA Local 1084, Murphy Endeavors LLC, PA Conference of Teamsters 

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Building One Ohio Labor/Civil Rights Forum

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Restoring the Historic and Powerful Alliance

of Labor and Civil Rights

for Racial Justice

and Economic Opportunity

Friday, May 6, 2016 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM

Cleveland State University, Wolstein Center

2000 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio

Legendary labor leader A. Philip Randolph and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. repeatedly told their supporters that the political forces attacking unions were the same ones who opposed civil rights. It’s no different today as the people fighting worker rights are the same ones who resist inclusive schools and maintain segregated neighborhoods.

The attack on public sector workers and teachers, especially in poor minority communities, is only the most recent example. The sprawl-driven, big-box retail industry in outer suburbs remains low wage and deeply anti-union. Public spending for badly needed infrastructure is severely restrained, undermining local government and depressing what should be an expansion of inclusive building trade jobs.

A shrinking middle class, widening income gap, and deepening racial divide further limits social mobility and middle class opportunity for all people - especially the unemployed, underemployed and those trapped in high poverty neighborhoods in cities and in suburbs.

This non-partisan forum will educate members, allies, and the public about the mutually reinforcing power relationship that once existed between labor and civil rights – an alliance that produced some the most progressive policies and inclusive expansion of middle class jobs that our nation ever experienced. 

It will show the relevance of this coalition for today’s challenges and it will call upon our congregations, unions, civic and civil rights groups to work together to restore and revive this alliance to advance and promote both racial justice and economic opportunity for all American workers, their families and communities. 

During the forum there will there will be a special tribute to Robert Richardson, Vice President of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) and recently elected President of the Cincinnati NAACP.

We will also recognize the work and celebrate the life of Mayor Rich Bonde, a dedicated and steadfast friend and leader of Building One Ohio and a courageous champion of social justice. 

May 6 Labor/Civil Rights Forum - Building One Ohio

Restoring the Historic and Powerful Alliance

of Labor and Civil Rights

for Racial Justice

and Economic Opportunity

Friday, May 6, 2016 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Cleveland State University, Wolstein Center

Featured Speakers:

  • Clayola Brown  National President, A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI), AFL-CIO, Vice President, Workers United-SEIU. Civil Rights Director under the repositioned union Workers United, an SEIU affiliate. Member of the General Executive Board of Workers United since its formation in March 2009.  Former member, AFL-CIO Executive Council, and current Director of the Amalgamated Bank.
  • David Rusk  Founding President of Building One America, he is an internationally-known consultant on urban policy who has worked with more than 120 US communities including many in Ohio. Former federal Labor Department official, New Mexico legislator, and mayor of Albuquerque, the USA’s 32nd largest city

  • Marc Bayard  Associate Fellow and Director of the Institute for Policy Studies’ Black Worker Initiative. Founding Executive Director of the Worker Institute at Cornell University, he is a leading expert on racial equity and organizing strategies with extensive experience in building partnerships between labor, faith groups, and civil rights communities.

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Become a Sponsor 

December 17 Labor/Civil Rights Forum - Building One New Jersey

Restoring the Historic and Powerful Alliance of Labor and Civil Rights for Racial Justice and Economic Opportunity

December 17, 2015 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM
The Conference Center at Mercer
1200 Old Trenton Road West Windsor NJ 08550 

Featured Speakers:

  • Rev. Terrence Melvin, president of the International Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) and secretary-treasurer of the powerful New York State AFL-CIO 
  • Clayola Brown, national president of the A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI), AFL-CIO 
  • Paul Jargowsky, director of the Center for Urban Research and Urban Education at Rutgers University and author of the Architecture of Segregation - Civil Unrest, the Concentration of Poverty, and Public Policy

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Become a Sponsor 

Building One New Jersey Labor/Civil Rights Forum and Year-End Celebration

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Celebrating and Restoring the Historic and Powerful Alliance of Labor anCivil Rights for Racial Justice and Economic Opportunity

When: Thursday, December 17, 2015 from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM - there will be a short holiday reception afterward.

Where: The Conference Center at Mercer, 1200 Old Trenton Road West Windsor NJ 08550

Legendary labor leader A. Philip Randolph and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. repeatedly told their supporters that the political forces attacking unions were the same ones who opposed civil rights. It’s no different today as the people fighting worker rights are the same ones who resist inclusive schools and maintain segregated neighborhoods.

The attack on public sector workers and teachers, especially in poor minority communities, is only the most recent example. The sprawl-driven, big-box retail industry in outer suburbs remains low wage and deeply anti-union. Public spending for badly needed infrastructure is severely restrained, undermining local government and depressing what should be an expansion of inclusive building trade jobs.

A shrinking middle class, widening income gap, and deepening racial divide further limits social mobility and middle class opportunity for all people - especially the unemployed, underemployed and those trapped in high poverty neighborhoods in cities and in suburbs.

This non-partisan forum will educate members, allies, and the public about the mutually reinforcing power relationship that once existed between labor and civil rights – an alliance that produced some the most progressive policies and inclusive expansion of middle class jobs that our nation ever experienced. 

It will show the relevance of this coalition for today’s challenges and it will call upon our congregations, unions, civic and civil rights groups to work together to restore and revive this alliance to advance and promote both racial justice and economic opportunity for all American workers, their families and communities. 

When: December 17, 2015 from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM- there will be a short reception afterward.

Where: The Conference Center at Mercer 
1200 Old Trenton Road
West Windsor NJ 08550 

Who: Attendees will include local leaders, members, and allies such as:

  • Congregation leaders and clergy
  • Municipal leaders and school board members
  • Civic and local business leaders
  • Local labor and civil rights leaders
  • Academics and advocates

Guest speakers and panelist will include:

  • National labor and civil rights leaders
  • Historians, authors, and experts
  • State and national political leaders

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