Summit for Civil Rights

The Summit for Civil Rights

November 9–10, 2017

At the University of Minnesota Law School, Mondale Hall

Presented by Law & Inequality: A Journal of Theory and Practice, The Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity & Building One America

With generoussupport from The Kresge Foundation

The Summit for Civil Rights, held on November 9 and 10, 2017 at the University of Minnesota Law School, was a powerful expression of the people and institutions representing the forces of racial justice, social equity, inclusion and economic opportunity.

Hundreds of delegates, panelists, participants and speakers came from across the country from labor, civil rights, law, academia, the faith community, local government and national politics.The Summit demonstrated how enduring racial disparities and growing economic inequality were interconnected and mutually reinforcing problems in

American society, inextricably tied to our racially segregated structures of opportunity and power. The Summit revealed the ways in which many of those structures and institutions (including in housing, finance, education, employment and law) sustain and even profit from segregation and racial inequality.

The Summit drew lessons from our Civil Rights past to help us better understand the challenges today, who our common enemies are, and strategies for building the power needed to achieve breakthroughs against modern American Apartheid. Moreover, it showed us how the fight for racial justice and economic opportunity are one in the same and that only through that fight (and a unified agenda) can we build and sustain a multiracial political majority.

Below is a summary of the conference:

After an opening reflection by Rev. Doug Mork of Interfaith Worker Justice and a Welcome from Dean Garry Jenkins,  Professors William Jones and Myron Orfield opened the meeting.

The Summit’s opening speaker, Catherine Lhamon, Chair of the U. S. Commission on Civil Rights, provided historical context for the progress toward equal opportunity in America as well as the unfinished business of the Civil Rights Movement and the threats we face today. 

Myron Orfield and a panel of experts and practitioners, moderated by Algernon Austin, gave us a stark reminder of this threat in a session titled “The Scourge of Segregation”. Orfield and panelists Paul Jargowsky, Lisa Rice and Alexander Polikoff discussed the broader impact and terrible costs of segregation in modern 

American life, warping politics, eroding cities and older submits, destroying schools, fracturing the workforce, and undermining efforts to provide economic and social justice for both the poor and middle class.

A second panel titled “How We Got Here,” moderated by Demetria McCain of the Inclusive Communities Project began with a brief presentation by David Rusk on the structural underpinnings of modern American Apartheid, including the myriad of state and national policies that have built and sustained it over the past 50 years. Panelists Bruce Haynes, 

Julian Vasquez Heilig and Betsey Julian reflected on the historical roots and real life implications of American segregation, including its role in the fracturing of working class alliances and the related politics that drive wealth and income inequality in America.

The evening session closed with a powerful speech by Derrick Johnson, the newly elected president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored P

eople (NAACP). President Johnson’s talk tied the afternoon together and set up the next day's discussion by drawing on the history of the NAACP and reminding Summit attendees that racial oppression, segregation and hatred have always been tools for the exploitation and the subjugation of working people of all colors.

A reception was held to welcome the Summit attendees and to pay tribute to Vice President Walter Mondale for the courageous role how many years of public service and especially for the role he played in the passage of the Fair Housing Act as a young Senator from Minnesota. 

In the morning after an introduction by University President Eric Kaler, Professor Will Jones moderated a dynamic discussion between Vice President Mondale and Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina on the forgotten history of the Civil Rights Movement - titled “Learning from the past to create a new, more just, future.”
Both Mondale and Clyburn told compelling and powerful stories from their own past to help reveal important and relevant lessons for today's challenges and struggles.
Vice President Mondale reminded us that racial segregation continues to be a central evil denying opportunity to millions of people and poisoning our politics while keeping us from realizing our true potential as a fully inclusive and socially just society.   

This discussion was then expanded to include a prestigious panel of leaders from labor and civil rights including Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers, William E. Spriggs, AFL-CIO and Howard University, Theodore M. Shaw, University of North Carolina School of Law and former head of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Judy Beard of  the American Postal Workers Union. Panelists described the role of black workers, black leaders, and the fight for civil rights in building the power of the American labor movement in the 20th century. Panelists also described the role segregation and segregationists played (and still play) in undermining and splitting the power of organized labor and the need for a renewed alliance between labor and civil rights in America. 




Myron Orfield then presented a challenge to the group to consider the lessons of the Civil Rights Movement, especially the key elements of institutional power from labor, civil rights organizations, the courts and the faith community. He also reminded us that it took money, training, political and economic analysis, and organizing to build the multiracial power that defeated Jim Crow in the last century.
Orfield reminded us that many middle and working class African Americans today live in suburbs, along with working class whites, ethnic minorities and recent immigrants. These places, especially the more diverse, racially changing suburbs, hold the key to power in American politics and are ideal targets for organizing a new, multiracial coalition to support policies of inclusion and racial, social and economic justice.

A multiracial panel of constituency leaders responded. Panelists included  Rev. Terrence Melvin, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Tracey Schultz Kobylarz, Redford Twp, MI, Dr. Timothy Tee Boddie, Progressive National Baptist Church, Dr. Kimberly McGlonn, Jenkintown Borough Council, PA and Gregory Floyd, Teamsters Local 237 in New York.
Panelists each spoke of the way segregation and segregated power have impacted their organizations and harmed their constituencies. Each spoke of the contributions and progress their organizations have made in promoting inclusion and multiracial power. Panelists, however, also spoke of the limitations they and their constituencies faced and the need for broader alliances, such as those at the Summit, but also the need for racial inclusion at the highest levels of power including in politics and in the labor movement. 

In response to the challenge, Summit attendees and participants broke into three groups - litigation, legislation and organizing - and took initial steps toward forming a leadership structure to continue the work of the Summit and the goal of renewing and reinvigorating the Civil Rights Movement. After report backs and closing statements, Summit attendees agreed to reconvene in the new year to discuss and take next steps for organizing and for action. It was further agreed that a joint coordinating committee would be formed among a diverse group of leaders from each of the working groups. In the coming weeks, representatives of this committee will produce a draft document outlining the proposed purpose, goals and strategic direction of the Summit for participants’ input and review.


Click here to view Sponsorship Opportunities 

Click here for list of Speakers

Click here for Summary of Program

Click here for PDF of Sponsorship Packages

Click here to donate

The Summit for Civil Rights 2017 Sponsors


Building One New Jersey 2017 Policy Forum

School Integration and Funding Equity

Two Sides Of The Same Coin

Building One New Jersey and Mercer County Community College hosted 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.

The meeting tool place on Tuesday, May 16, 2017 (On the Eve of the Anniversary of the Brown v. Board Decision) at the James Kerney Campus  Mercer County Community College in Trenton.

The capacity meeting was attended by nearly 100 leaders including school boards Trenton, superintendents, union leaders, teachers, clergy, local elected officials and civil rights leaders.

linked here is the presentation and summary of the meeting. 

the group will meet next during the Summit for Inclusive and Sustainable Communities at Rutgers Camden on July 21. 

63 years after theBrowndecision, New Jersey remains 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

Summit for Inclusive Communities and Sustainable Regions

Building One America will hold its 5th biennial national Summit on July 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
  • Public 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 University 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 or register here:

Event Date: 
Friday, July 21, 2017 - 9:00am to 4:00pm
Event location: 
Rutgers Campus Center 326 Penn St. Camden, NJ 08102
Event Fee: 
BOA Members $100 Non-Members $125 EARLY REGISTRATION (BEFORE JUNE 23) BOA Members $75 Non-Members $100

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 

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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Leadership Training Institute for Inclusive Communities


June 14-17 2018 at Cleveland State University  

Cosponsored by North Shore AFL-CIO       

Because space is limited, interested individuals must apply to participate in this program.  The application is available online and can be accessed HERE. There is no charge to apply.



Demographic diversity has been increasing throughout American society. While membership - and even leadership - in many organizations have reflected this change, power and decision-making often fail to keep up with the racial, ethnic, generational and gender make up of our communities and institutions, including labor unions, local government, and religious congregations. This failure has left us weaker and more vulnerable to attacks from those who do not share our values of inclusion and opportunity.

One reason for this persistent power gap is that we often confuse the visual trappings of diversity and policies of inclusion with genuine integration and political equality. When members of underrepresented groups are appointed to or secure leadership positions, they frequently begin at a significant disadvantage. Generational layers of power, privilege and experience, and networks of formal and informal relationships,are at play in any public arena where leadership matters, power is wielded, and important decisions get made. These dynamics are taken for granted or denied by the powerful, while too often unseen or not easily understood by the powerless. We frequently find ourselves in organizations, committees, boards and leadership structures that are diverse in name and appearance, but in reality are decidedly lopsided when it comes to the exercise of power.

As Frederick Douglass famously reminded us, power never did and never will be given away by those who have it to those who don’t. Building One America’s training does not claim to make people more powerful or institutions more divers, but it does help to equip emerging leaders from diverse backgrounds to better understand and navigate the dynamics of power and politics,  and to have the tools to compete more effectively and further themselves in the public arena. Moreover, it will help individual leaders to recognize more clearly their own potential and motivations to build a powerful and meaningful public life.

Because space is limited, interested individuals must apply to participate in this program.  The application is available online and can be accessed HERE. There is no charge to apply


Who: This training is for leaders from all over America who want to become more effective in making a difference – including organizers, leaders and volunteers from the faith community, labor unions, electoral politics, public office holders and grassroots rank-and-file leaders. 

What: The training teaches ordinary people to unleash their capacity to impact the social, political, environmental, and economic decisions affecting their lives. The training has been designed and will be conducted by experienced organizers affiliated with Building One America. The training is unique in combining elements of leadership training developed over the past fifty years by national community organizing networks, with a contemporary analysis and strategy for developing multiracial institutional and social power to build more inclusive and equitable communities.

Topics covered include:

  • An orientation and reflection on power
  • Understanding self-interest as a way to build membership, engage allies and adversaries, and become a more focused and self-motivated leader
  • The role, value, and techniques of one-on-one organizing
  • Conducting and understanding a power analysis
  • Distinguishing the “public” from the “private” in order to build an effective public life
  • The key principles and elements of strategy and tactics and issues and action
  • Identifying and developing leaders
  • The importance of organized money
  • Principles and techniques for effective meetings
  • Personal reflection, strategic planning and developing a personal path to power

The training is not just an intellectual exercise. It challenges and helps emerging and existing leaders to identify, reflect on, and overcome internalized attitudes and beliefs that stand in the way of becoming more powerful. The goal is to produce more powerful leaders and to facilitate the expansion of more powerful and more unified multiracial coalitions and power structures.

When:  The training will take place over four days starting Thursday, June 14 and ending Sunday, June 17, 2018. 

Where: Cleveland State University, 2121 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, OH 44115

Cost: Tuition plus room and board is $450 per participant

Because space is limited, interested individuals must apply to participate in this program.  The application is available online and can be accessed HERE. There is no charge to apply.

Event Date: 
Thursday, June 14, 2018 - 9:00am to Sunday, June 17, 2018 - 5:00pm
Event location: 
Cleveland State University
Event Fee: 
Tuition is $450 per participant (including lodging and meals)

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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Clone of Building Leaders Together - Leadership Training Institute for Inclusive Communities

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Together North Jersey and Building One New Jersey are partnering to provide an in-depth training institute for emerging leaders in New Jersey that will take place over four weekends in January and February 2015.  The training program is aimed at preparing leaders to become more effective and powerful in their communities and institutions.

Purpose of the training

Across America, communities and regions are reaching a high watermark of economic, ethnic, and racial diversity. These changes have brought many challenges that can turn these otherwise positive trends into forces of instability, fear, and insecurity.

The importance of recruiting leaders in diverse communities to serve on boards, councils or to play leadership roles in community institutions such as unions and churches has never been more important or relevant.

Too often, honest efforts to better reflect the changing demographics of a community or organization fail to recognize and address the power gap that tends to accompany historic disparities.

Many emerging leaders, whether because of age, race, gender, or class biases face a steep learning curve as they confront entrenched institutional power. Relationships developed and experiences learned over many years (sometimes generations) are not overcome easily or quickly.

For school boards, congregations, city councils, and labor unions it is not enough to talk about making our institutions more reflective of our constituencies. Leaders must learn to be leaders; they must learn to become powerful by understanding power and the principles, skills and tools for developing a public life and operating effectively in the public arena.

This training program is designed to help narrow this power gap and better prepare those individuals with strong leadership potential to be stronger advocates for their communities.

The program will focus on leaderhip skills development in the context of challenges and solutions for sustainable community development in the 13-county Together North Jersey planning region.

Where and When

The training will take place at Rutgers University – Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy (33 Livingston Ave, New Brunswick, NJ 08901), with the exception of the first Friday and Saturday which will take place at the University Inn and Conference Center(178 Ryders Ln, New Brunswick, NJ 08901)

The program will include an overnight stay at the University Inn on Friday, January 23rd.  The cost of the lodging is included in the tuition fee.  All appropriate meals are also included.

Below are session dates:

  • Friday, January 23 - 7pm to 9pm with an overnight stay (including welcome reception from 9pm to 10pm)
  • Saturday, January 24 - 9am to 9pm (breakfast, lunch and dinner provided)
  • Saturday, January 31 - 9am to 5pm (breakfast and lunch provided)
  • Saturday, February 7 - 9am to 9pm (breakfast, lunch and dinner provided)
  • Saturday, February 28 - 9am to 5pm (breakfast and lunch provided)

Because space is limited, interested individuals must apply to participate in this program.  The application is available online and can be accessed HERE.

Event Fee

Tuition for the Leadership Institute is $300 per participant.  The fee includes lodging on Friday, January 23rd and the meals listed above.

Partial scholarships may be available to BONJ affiliates and other qualified applicants.
Event Date: 
Friday, January 23, 2015 - 7:00pm
Event location: 
Rutgers University - Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, 33 Livingston Ave, New Brunswick, NJ 08901
Event Fee: 
Tuition is $300 per participant (including lodging and meals) or $200 for affiliates and qualified applicants.

Labor Civil Rights Forum

Building One New Jersey is hosting a forum around the important and timely theme of Restoring the Historic and Powerful Alliance of Labor and Civil Rights for Racial Justice and Economic Opportunity.

With growing frustration over rising income inequality and mounting anger around racial injustice, the pivotal role of unions and civil rights needs to be reexamined for its historic significance and relevance to the critical challenges facing working people today. 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 and how this alliance produced some the most progressive policies and most inclusive expansion of middle class jobs that our nation had ever experienced.

It will show the importance of this coalition for today’s serious 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. 

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 

Register here for the confernce and reception

Guest speakers will include:

  • 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
Event Date: 
Thursday, December 17, 2015 - 1:00am to 4:00am
Event location: 
The Conference Center at Mercer 1200 Old Trenton Road West Windsor NJ 08550
Event Fee: 
$150 for Non Members and $75 for Members