US Human Rights Network Blog

US Human Rights Network Blog



FIHRE II Fellows Announced

Oct 16, 2018

The US Human Rights Network is proud to announce the fellows for the second FIHRE of 2018, with a focus on Pan-African Femme organizations based in the South.


Addisalem GebrekidanAddisalem Gebrekidan
Many Languages, One Voice (MLOV)

Currently, addisalem, is a worker justice organizer for immigrant/Black, Indigenous, and POC low-income workers in the DC area. She believes that this work, when practiced through insurgent collective learning that is embodied in remembrance, and centers Blackness as a knowledge system -wherein seemingly individuated knowing(s) are unbound and blurred, is situated in a continuum of technologies of the making of a new world.

addisalem builds worlds through thinking and walking with others, and in thinking with Fred Moten, as he thinks with Manuel Callahan, she is committed to, organizing “in the community, in a way that’s not about studying people, and it’s not even about helping people either. It’s just about, you know, we are a part of this community and we engage in certain forms of research along with the other members of the community”



Brenda Hyde Brenda Hyde
Southern Echo, Inc.

Brenda Hyde, MPPA is Deputy Director and Chief Program Officer at Southern Echo, Inc. Brenda is a native Mississippian and has dedicated her life’s works to social and economic justice and the advancement of civil and voting rights. She joined Echo as an intern while in graduate school and became full-time in 1994.

She has served on several foundation board of directors, managed 2 foundation funded intermediary granting programs that support capacity building and technical assistance for social justice organizations in Mississippi and 7 other states throughout the southern region. For 24 years, Brenda’s exemplary organizing and power building skills have impacted institutional and systemic change from a public policy perspective; and, the empowerment of African-American people and communities throughout the southern region.

As Deputy Director of Southern Echo, she shares in the decision-making of day-to-day operations, oversees the design and implementation of Echo’s programs of work, manages a staff of eight professionals and conducts public policy research and analysis. Brenda earned her masters in public policy and administration from Jackson State University and was a HUD Community and Economic Development Fellow. She has 2 lovely children.



Briee CoatesBriee Coates
Pan-African Community Action

Briee Coates is a native of Pittsburgh, PA and has been a Washingtonian for 3 years now. She earned two bachelor degrees from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania: Business Administration (Marketing) and B.A. of Interdisciplinary Studies (across Political Science, Anthropology, Women’s Studies & History). She’s passionate about emerging technology, digital media, and advocacy, and how Young, Black & Gifted people are harnessing the web to create change. Currently, she works in “corporate America” by day, but by night she is forging her journey in the resistance.

My familiarity with using a human rights framework developed in stages, initially through a generic understanding of “inequality” at the beginning of my undergraduate career, and eventually arriving at an Afrikan-centered vision by graduation. My senior year was also when resistance in Ferguson, NYC & Baltimore was happening, and I filled a critical void on my predominantly white campus when I organized an awareness campaign on police brutality, specifically citing the works of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, and they graciously arranged an activist to help educate Black students on campus, who were my priority. I was able to orchestrate this as apart of leadership of our collegiate NAACP chapter.

Outside of the classroom I was compelled by Black feminist theory, Marxism, Pan-Africanism, and eventually Africana Womanism via critical voices on social media. While I don’t consider myself a disciple of any of these schools of thought in particular, I do credit “intersectional feminism” as my awakening for advocating for interconnected, indivisible, and interrelated struggle!



Chenae BullockChenae Bullock
Sinnecock Indian Nation

My name is Chenae Bullock and I am also known to many by my traditional indigenous name, Sagkompanau Mishoon Netoouesqua which translates in the Shinnecock Indian language to ‘I Lead Canoe I am Buttetrflywoman.’ I am enrolled into the federally recognized tribe, the Shinnecock Indian Nation. We are unable to legal enroll into more than one tribe; however, I will always proudly acknowledge that I descend from both the Shinnecock and Montauk communities of Long Island, New York. I am bi-racial: African American and Native American and have focused my life on balancing these two backgrounds and creating awareness of the importance of culture and heritage. I was born in Philadelphia, PA but raised all over the world as an Air Force brat so I’ve been exposed to many types of people and customs. In 2011, I graduated from Marymount Manhattan College in New York City with a BFA in Performing Arts.

In 2015 I was invited to assist in mobilizing indigenous peoples to attend the Justice or Else Million Man March in October of 2015. I opened the March in front of 2 million people on the steps of the State Capitol Building in Washington, DC, in prayer and song. Shortly after the march I was appointed as board member for the Unite or Die organization as the Native American Liaison. At the start of 2016 I was appointed Lead Organizer for Hip Hop 4 Flint Providence which was 1 of 49 international cities who collectively held an event on the same day to raise over $80,000 for home filtration systems for the people living in Flint, Michigan. The city of Providence recognized me for mY leadership in uniting various local organizations together to bring light to an epidemic that is occurring worldwide



Christophe RingerChristophe Ringer
Chicago Theological Seminary

Professor Christophe Ringer’s passion for understanding the relationship between self, society and the sacred in the quest for human flourishing has lead him to Chicago Theological Seminary (CTS). He serves there as Assistant Professor of Theological Ethics and Society and his research interests range from theological and social ethics to religion, biopolitics and human rights. He remains convinced that a wide variety of disciplines are necessary to comprehend the ethical complexities that our world faces today and the challenges we cannot yet imagine.

Dr. Ringer also received his Ph.D. in Religion, Ethics and Society from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. His dissertation, Necropolitics: The Religious Situation of U.S. Mass Incarceration examined the religious meanings that sustain mass incarceration and other forms of social death in American public life. His research interests include public theology, religion and social sciences, religion and politics, and African-American religious and cultural studies. Ringer has presented his research in many settings, including the American Academy of Religion (AAR), the Southeastern Commission for the Study of Religion (SECSOR), the Center for Research on Social-Cultural Change in Manchester, England and the Political Theology Symposium in Geneva, Switzerland. In addition to Chicago Theological Seminary, Ringer has taught courses at American Baptist College in Nashville, Tennessee; New Brunswick Theological Seminary in New Brunswick, NJ, and Christian Brothers College in Memphis, Tennessee. In addition, Ringer has a passion for community based education and teaches African American Political Philosophy with the Odyssey Project at the Illinois Humanities Council.

Dr. Ringer’s professional experience also includes his service as pastor of Howard Congregation United Church of Christ (UCC) from 2005 until 2015, and the ecclesiastical council ordained him in 2010. Under his leadership, the 138-year-old church experienced renewal as it to responded to God’s call to both minister to and be in relationship with the community through outreach ministries such as Room In the Inn, GED preparation programs, and mentoring to at risk youth. Ringer was active in many local efforts in the quest for justice and inclusive society.

Dr. Ringer’s professional experience includes background in community development, having worked at American National Bank (ANB) and the Chicago Community Loan Fund (CCLF). At CCLF, a non-profit financial organization, Ringer worked with numerous community and faith-based organizations in order to provide capital to underserved communities through the financing of affordable housing, social service facilities, and various community services. Further, Ringer completed an internship at Riverbend Maximum Security Prison (R.M.S.I.) and served as counselor with Behavioral Treatment Providers (BTP), one of only two licensed organizations in Tennessee to provide group therapy for domestic violence offenders.

Ringer is a New Leaders Council Fellow, an organization dedicated to advancing progressive values in public life. He currently serves on the board of A Just Harvest, Chicago Renewal Society and Worker Center for Racial Justice. This year, Ringer will celebrate ten years of marriage to Minister Kimberly Peeler-Ringer.



Joan FadayiroJoan Fadayiro
Cooperation for Liberation Study & Working Group

Joan Fadayiro is a community organizer and Co-Founder of the Cooperation for Liberation Study & Working Group in Chicago, IL. She has participated in and led struggles to improve public education, resist police violence, contend for grassroots-led political power, and most recently, secure and improve long-term affordable housing.

Through her organizing, Joan recognized that many of the barriers to community participation were not lack of interest, but stemmed from a lack of access to quality jobs and ownership of their own labor. People have material needs that current movements cannot continue to ignore if they seek to grow. Thus, Joan co-founded the Cooperation for Liberation Study and Working Group to understand and build worker cooperatives as a tool for economic independence and self-determination in Black communities.




Krystal BrownKrystal Brown
United 4 Justice

KRYSTAL K. BROWN is a native of Deland, Florida. She received her A.S. degree in Occupational Therapy in 1998 and a Certific1te in Practical Nursing in 2003. She is the mother of three, DeAndre, Armana and Marlon and the Wife of Marlon Brown Sr. She has always been a leader and an advocate for her community, Springhill, and the people that reside there.

On May 8, 2013 the life of her family was forever changed when Marlon Sr. was killed by a Deland rookie police officer, James Paul Harris. Like many, she believed in the Judicial System and was confident that justice would prevail especially since there was a dashcam video that caught the entire incident as well as multiple eye witnesses. However, similar to many cases from around the country the case was presented to a grand jury and the result was “NO INDICTMENT!”

Krystal immediately formed a team that began collecting and dissecting the evidence and after acquiring much knowledge about Marlonʼs case it was clear that the Justice System was unjust. She has been traveling from state to state meeting other families that are fighting police brutality, researching and learning about policies and procedures that are in place and cause corruption of the system, speaking out on behalf of Marlon Brown Sr. and pursuing an opportunity for him to receive justice. She is the founder of, United 4 Justice, an organization that serves to bring awareness to individuals and families throughout the globe information on police brutality and personal rights. She is not afraid to stand up and call out those that misuse their power to control others and for their own personal gain. She has put the quote from Frederick Douglas, “It is easier to build strong children than repair broken men,” into action by working very closely to children from the community. Titling them “Hollywoodʼs Stars” and instilling in them that the sky is the limit and the possibilities are endless if they are willing to work for them. She is committed to helping her community obtain equal and fair treatment by city administration and local law enforcement.

She ran for City Commissioner in Deland, Fl in 2014. Despite not being voted into office she used her voice and her platform to convey the concerns of the community and its citizens. Her voice has definitely been amplified by her ability and willingness to stand firm on the facts. In January 2016, Krystal was offered the opportunity to speak before the Expert Working Group from the United Nations. She spoke on the disrespectful dehumanization and criminalization of the victims of police brutality and their families by the United States and the lack of transparency and conviction of the crimes being committed against people of African descent. She was heard and Marlonʼs name appears in the preliminary report that is being written to the United States Government. She is a 2016 award recipient of “Divas on Fire, All Womenʼs Award Show” for being a Community Activist.



Latrice VincentLatrice Vincent
Stone Black Development

Latrice Vincent is the founder of Stone Black Development which works for opportunity and justice for disenfranchised peoples in Washington, DC and beyond. Presently, she is working to organize the community to Defend the Black Vote against DC Council efforts - funded by industry lobbyist payouts - to repeal the recent majority vote for a minimum wage increase from $3.33 to $15 for tipped workers in Washington, DC. She is a member of Pan-African Community Action (PACA) which educates and organizes the Black community in DC around political power, specifically now the PACA campaign for Community Control Over Police.

Latrice is co-founder and President of Cultural Arts and Music Projects, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to exploring, engaging, and encouraging higher appreciation of the peoples and cultures of our global society through the arts, music, dance, education, cultural exchange, and travel. Latrice also works as a real estate developer and licensed Realtor® with a focus on home ownership within the Black community of Washington, DC.



Marion Gray-HopkinsMarion Gray-Hopkins
Coalition of Concerned Mothers

Marion Gray-Hopkins career in banking spanned 38 year. She’s now a retired banking executive, ending her career as Senior Vice President of Operations. She was born in Washington, DC spending most of her life as a resident of Prince Georges County, MD. She is a mother of three adult children, six grandchildren and two great grand children. In 2000 she began her work as an activist in the movement for justice, police accountability and transparency after the senseless killing of her unarmed 19 year-old son Gary Hopkins, Jr. in November 1999 by a Prince Georges County, MD police officer.

She is a member of the Prince Georges County Peoples Coalition, Maryland Coalition for Justice and Police Accountability (MCJPA) , a core member of ONUS Inc National Victims of Police Brutality and Terrorism Committee and most recently she became the Executive Officer for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Leader for the organization Families United 4 Justice (FU4J) a growing frontline collective of families impacted by police violence; providing compassionate holistic care by nurturing and supporting each other in building a powerful political police accountability and transparency movement to eliminate extrajudicial police killing and change the policing culture.

She was a core team member in organizing the Million Moms March in May 2015. She’s actively engaged with organizations such American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Code Pink, Progressive Maryland, Campaign for Justice, Safety and Jobs (CJSJ), A Mothers Cry, and Amnesty International. Her advocacy work has afforded her meetings with White House and Department of Justice Department officials to discuss needed changes. She is a recipient of the 2016 Washington Peace Center “No Justice No Peace Award”. Her activist work has led her to speak out on police terrorism locally, nationally and internationally; speaking in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil to support the “Beyond Borders” Conference and Kingston, Jamaica for “Broken But Not Destroyed Campaign.

She co-founded and serves as the President of the Coalition of Concerned Mothers (COCM), comprised primarily of mothers whose mission is to stop police brutality, senseless community violence and mass incarceration while identifying and supporting policy and legislative change.

She has turned her pain into passion and power, becoming a catalyst for change.



Melishia BrooksMelishia Brooks
The Lighthouse | Black Girls Project

Melishia D. Brooks is a proud Mississippian. Although she was born in Illinois, Mississippi has (and will always) be home. Melishia takes pride in being a
graduate of historic Lanier High School, in Jackson, MS. This is where her dedication to grassroots organizing and human rights work began as a member of the Algebra Project, which was founded by Civil Rights Veteran Dr. Robert P.Moses.

After finishing an English degree at Jackson State University, Melishia went on to join The Mississippi Teacher Corps at the University of Mississippi. While
working as an English teacher in the Mississippi Delta, she received a Master degree in Teaching through the alternate route teaching program. While working as an educator in critical needs schools districts, Melishia’s interest and need to become a more dedicated advocate to human rights issues flourished.

Melishia is currently Program Manager for The Lighthouse|Black Girl Projects, a
consortium of projects that centers the personal and professional growth of Black girls and women in the Southeast United States. When she is not working alongside the unwavering Lighthouse Team, she is wife to Scottie, and mother to Kaylee, Scottie Jr., Ava, and Asher



Rachel MayesRachel Mayes
Southern Echo, Inc.

Ms. Mayes was born in Jackson Mississippi and reared in rural Florence Mississippi where she gained the knowledge of raising crops from the dirt of the earth and harnessed the values of family and community. As an advocate for African American, marginalized and low wealth communities throughout Mississippi and Southeast Region, she believes that these populations should be equipped with the tools and skills necessary to engage in conversations at the local, state, and federal level to advance equity for the communities in which they live and that by doing so the needle of inequities, and disparities will weave a new fabric.

Ms. Mayes is a proud graduate of Jackson State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Finance, 1994. She furthered her education by attending Belhaven University, obtaining a Masters of Business Administration degree, 1999. In addition, Ms. Mayes has recently completed all necessary Accounting required course work to sit for the Certified Public Accountants Exam. Her work career began in a Human Resource Agency where she was able to see first-hand the needs of community and the pushback against community to be involved and heard as it relates to their overall wellness and social well being. During her tenure, she touched many lives and this work began to shape her view of the many inequities that marginalized communities face daily. She believes that it is important to engage communities through a grassroots approach to bring about change. This can happen as a result of effective community organizing whereby community becomes empowered with the tools and skills to bring about change and community ultimately becomes the architects of policy rather than the objects of policy. Currently serving as the 2nd Executive Director of Southern Echo Inc., Ms. Mayes previously served as CFO for more than 10 years. She brings more than 25 years of public, private and governmental experience in management, financial services and organizational development. She embraces the fact that -what is needed in our communities today is: education, relationship building, trust, conversations and a groundswell from the grassroots level not the grasstops. She believes that ALL voices matter and all voices should be heard. She also believes that community organizing should involve youth thru an intergenerational model. This approach ensures that youth, who are the leaders today and tomorrow, will be equipped with the tools and skills necessary to become accountable leaders and advance equity to impact the systems of injustice.

Ms. Mayes has been active in her community by self-initiating a group of citizens in Rankin County for more than 3 years, engaging them in conversations around issues that were impacting their community such as: school bonds, land zoning, back-to-school rallies and holding forums so that community could greet local and statewide candidates. Her professional and social affiliations include: National Association of Black Accountants – NABA, Jackson Chapter; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and JSU National Alumni Association – Madison Chapter. She is an active member of Cade Chapel M. B. Church were Reginald Buckley serves as Pastor. As a torch bearer for justice she continues to bring community leaders together from communities across Mississippi and the South Eastern Region to advance equity by addressing issues involving: education, race, human services, economics, civic engagement, health, environmental and community.



Rasheed Van PuttenRasheed van Putten
Pan-African Community Action

Rasheed Van Putten is a 29-year old organizer based in Washington, DC. His parents
immigrated from Nigeria and Curaçao, respectively, while Rasheed was born in Houston, TX.

He is currently a member of Pan-African Community Action, a group of African people organizing for community-based power. His skills are in logistics, communications and technology.

In the Fall of 2014, Rasheed came across a speech given by Howard University’s most distinguished graduate, Kwame Ture, where the international organizer asserted that one could not be a revolutionary without an organization. He began to seek out an organization to join and within a few months decided to join the DC Chapter of the National Black United Front. NBUF DC provided him with a taste of what it meant to be in the movement for self-determination and nationalism. Seeking a deeper analysis, he found himself attending popular education sessions hosted by Pan-African Community Action and joined the organization in July 2016.

In September 2017, Rasheed moved to Southeast Washington, DC to further understand the conditions and ways of life of the poor, working-class Black residents in hopes to organize with them. So far, this period of Re-Africanization has taught many lessons, provided opportunities to support the most impacted of the city, and affirmed hope that we will win.



Rebecca BonhommeRebecca Bonhomme
Pan-African Community Action

I am a Black working-class women. As far as I can remember, I questioned societal norms-rebellious to fitting into prescribed gender and race roles prescribed by society. In addition, I always enjoyed and partook in service. Despite these facts, I walked around as a person mostly oblivious to oppressive systems in the US (and worldwide) and the global struggle of Africans on the continent and the diaspora. Surely, I wasn’t being taught this history at school. As a matter of fact, I was ashamed of my Haitian heritage and at the time didn’t realize the profound significance of Haitian revolution. When it came to me (and many others like me), ignorance was bliss for the oppressor and I walked around as such for a long time.

Fast-forward to 2014 when recordings of the murder of black girls, boys, women, and men by police resulted in no accountability whatsoever in what is commonly referred to the criminal “justice” system. I was extremely unnerved and upset at what I was witnessing and decided to do SOMETHING especially because I have three young black boys of my own. These incidents reminded me of my experience with police when I was in high school in 2008. Both my arms and hands we held behind my back as I was violently slammed against the wall, handcuffed, and shoved into a police car by a white male police officer at a local basketball game. It was one month before my 18th birthday. Had I been 18 years old, that charge would have changed the trajectory of my life significantly. I began to search and decide how I would get involved in the moment in 2014.

My move from CT to DC in 2016 exposed me to protesting and heightened my awareness of injustices black people faced through oppressive laws and practices. In April 2017, I officially joined Pan African Community Action (PACA). In that short time, I was exposed to writings of a variety pf seminal leaders and influencers in the Pan-African/Black liberation movements. I was finally able to put a name to the oppressive systems I had experience: capitalism, white supremacy, and patriarchy.



Sheila BanksSheila Banks
Live to Serve and Live to Care, Inc.

At an early age, Sheila Banks understood her mission to serve. Born in Palm Beach County, Fla., to parents who have devoted more than a half century to Christian ministry and community service, Sheila and her 13 siblings were reared to embrace opportunities to help wherever and whenever they were needed. One of Sheila’s passions is lending her time, talents and treasures to causes greater than herself or her own endeavors.
Sheila graduated from Atlantic High School, and obtained a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Palm Beach Atlantic College/University. In her professional roles, she has held corporate management positions at companies such as MBNA/Bank of America, Macy’s, Levenger Catalog Co., and Barnett Bank. As an actress/model, Sheila has appeared in Holy Man (movie), Striptease (movie), "Atlanta Homicide" (TV series), "Survivors Remorse” (TV series), and several print and TV ads. She credits any measure of success to her faith-centered upbringing and her passion to succeed.

After a prolific career in corporate America, Sheila made a major life change and began to focus her efforts toward community service. Adding “activist” to what she believes are her life’s callings, Sheila contributes to a variety of religious, civic and cultural organizations. For the past 3-years, Sheila has served as the Vice President/Executive Director of the Sylvester Banks Foundation, recently founded the Anita Banks Justice for Corey Foundation Inc., and Live To Serve and Live To Care Inc. Over the last 20-plus years, Sheila has dedicated her life to volunteering and financially supporting numerous nonprofit and for-profit organizations including: Tom Joyner Foundation, Sylvester Banks Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, Hands Across America, Smiley Foundation, Susan G. Komen, MLK Jr. Foundation/Ebenezer Baptist Church, Boldin Foundation, Bible Church of God, Inc. (Youth Director), Willie Gary Youth Foundation, Youth for Christ, Hosea Feed the Hungry and volunteered for many campaigns for get out and vote.

Secondly to her love for Christianity, Sheila maintains an unbreakable bond with her parents, Bishop Sylvester Banks Sr., and Lady Fannie Banks, and her daughter, Shamerra. She is also in frequent contact with her 11 living siblings (two deceased) and a plethora of aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, godchildren and close friends. When she can grab a moment of spare time, Sheila thoroughly enjoys traveling/cruising walking, reading/studying, fine cuisine, organizing closets, and producing golf tournaments. Although she officially resides in Atlanta, Sheila considers herself a dual resident and is affectionately called “Florida-Georgia” by family and friends.



Tyronne MortonTyronne Morton
Aging People in Prison Human Rights Campaign

My journey in America was decided before I even was born, as a black man in America. This is significant, raised in Baltimore City during the 1960s it meant I was not meant to be anything but a statistic, incarcerated, or dead. I became the incarcerated, but it was women like my mother, grandmother, and sisters that reminded me that I’m much more; I just had to find the best of me. Even though raised by both parents and in a community, it took me some time to find my own path and transcend somewhat beyond the system of white supremacy. Prison is the lowest place for any human to be sent, but I was determined to liberate myself through books and the divine.

After doing 20 years in MD prisons, I pursued my deferred dream and went back to school. In 5 years I was able to obtain 3 degrees and help many young men and women coming behind me to succeed in their college education. I’ve seen a lot of the currents of Africans trapped in the white haze, but I also know that justice for those generations coming behind me is possible. Thus 3 years ago I joined APP-HRC first as a elder member, and now a National Advisor fighting through the human rights paradigm to free the many sisters/mothers and brothers/fathers that have been left behind. The work that APP-HRC does and myself is powerful in that we don’t run from the work of dismantling systemic racism. Through APP-HRC and the aid of USHRN I have been able to sit on a national and international level and speak truth to power about our century’s plight of incarcerated minds and bodies. My life’s story could be many pages and books, but I’m not ready to write it yet, because I’m not done. I aim to continue this justice work for the youth and the yet unborn so they can experience a better narrative than me, any of us in a world where human means everyone.