>!-- --> Amending America: Civil Rights and Individual Freedom - National Archives Foundation

Amending America: Civil Rights and Individual Freedom

Former President Jimmy Carter. Credit: The Carter Center

Date: May 20-21, 2016
Time: 1:30 – 5pm EST (May 20); 9:30-11am EST (May 21)
Location: Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum, 441 Freedom Parkway, Atlanta, Georgia   30307

As part of its Amending America initiative, the National Archives and Records Administration presents a National Conversation on Civil Rights and Individual Freedom in partnership with the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum in Atlanta, Georgia, on May 20-21, 2016.

This two-day event addressed the challenges to and future of civil rights and individual freedom, and featured a Q&A session with former President Jimmy Carter and Derreck Kayongo, CEO of the National Civil and Human Rights Center on Friday, May 20.

Their discussion will be followed by a panel on “Civil Rights: Then and Now,” moderated by Jelani Cobb. Panelists include Ouleye Ndoye Warnock, Columbia University; Karin Ryan, Senior Policy Advisor on Human Rights and Special Representative on Women and Girls for the Carter Center; Lisa Williams, founder, Circle of Friends; and Dr. Kurt Young, Clark Atlanta University.

Watch day 1

On Saturday, May 21, Dr. Maurice Hobson moderated panel on “Taking a Stand: Activism Today.” Panelists included Carrie Freshour, Cornell University; Laura Emiko Soltis, Freedom University; and Fahamu Pecou, visual/performing artist and scholar. Before and after the panel, there was a performance by Peabody Award-winning poet Abyss.

Watch day 2


Related Records in the National Archives

– Revolutionary War Pension Application of Cato Greene, a formerly enslaved man, June 6, 1820

– Letter from Timothy P. Patterson to President Calvin Coolidge regarding his struggle to exercise his Constitutional Rights, October 16, 1923

– Letter from Andrew S. Evans to President Truman regarding segregated playgrounds, June 20, 1949

– Letter from Arden Rappaport to President Truman regarding the killing of NAACP official Harry T. Moore and his wife, January 21, 1952

– Letter from Jackie Aaker to President Eisenhower regarding the killing of Emmett Till, February 17, 1956

– Civil Rights Act of 1964

– Voting Rights Act of 1965

About the Speakers

President Jimmy CarterJames Earl Carter Jr., 91, served as president of the United States from 1977 to 1981. In 2002, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Prior to becoming president, Jimmy Carter served two terms in the Georgia Senate and was governor of Georgia from 1971 to 1975. As U.S. president, Mr. Carter achieved a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China, and the SALT II strategic arms limitation treaty with the Soviet Union. He also made human rights a central element of U.S. foreign policy.  After leaving office, Mr. Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, founded The Carter Center, a nongovernmental, not-for-profit organization that has worked to advance human rights and alleviate human suffering through projects to resolve conflict,   promote democracy, protect human rights, and prevent diseases in more than 80 nations.

Jelani CobbWilliam Jelani Cobb is an Associate Professor of History and Director of the Africana Studies Institute. He specializes in post-Civil War African American history, 20th century American politics and the history of the Cold War. He is a recipient of fellowships from the Fulbright and Ford Foundations. Professor. Cobb is the author of The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama & the Paradox of Progress (Bloomsbury 2010) and To The Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip Hop Aesthetic (NYU Press 2007) which was a finalist for the National Award for Arts Writing. His collection The Devil & Dave Chappelle and Other Essays (Thunder’s Mouth Press) was also published in 2007. He is editor of The Essential Harold Cruse: A Reader. Born and raised in Queens, NY, he was educated at Jamaica High School, Howard University in Washington, D.C. and Rutgers University where he received his doctorate in American History in May 2003.

Professor Cobb’s forthcoming book is titled Antidote to Revolution: African American Anticommunism and the Struggle for Civil Rights, 1931-1957. His articles and essays have appeared in the New Yorker, the Daily Beast, the Washington Post, Essence, Vibe, The Progressive, and TheRoot.com. He has contributed to a number of anthologies including In Defense of Mumia, Testimony, Mending the World and Beats, Rhymes and Life. He has also been a featured commentator on MSNBC, National Public Radio, CNN, Al-Jazeera, CBS News and a number of other national broadcast outlets.

Karin RyanKarin Ryan is Senior Policy Adviser for Human Rights and has been with The Carter Center since 1988. She works with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Mrs. Rosalynn Carter on a wide-range of issues, including efforts on behalf of victims of human rights violations through their personal interventions with government leaders. She has represented the Center in many international negotiations, including the Beijing World Conference on Women, International Criminal Court, the U.N. Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, and the establishment of a U.N. Human Rights Council. She spearheaded ongoing human rights and extractive industry transparency programs in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well human rights projects in Israel and Palestine. Since 2003, Ryan has convened the Human Rights Defenders Policy Forum, which is chaired by President Carter; its aim is to support those on the frontlines of the struggle for human rights and democracy all over the world. The Forum has hosted eight gatherings on the world’s most pressing human rights challenges, including the erosion of human rights resulting from the “war on terror”, advancing the rule of law, the human rights of women, including abolition of sex trafficking and prostitution, among others.  Ryan worked closely with President Carter on his bestselling book A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence and Power in which he offers his own startling assessment of various forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls worldwide. Ryan holds bachelor’s degrees in political science from Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., and in contemporary writing and production from Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts.

Ouleye Ndoye WarnockOuleye Ndoye Warnock is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in the Department of History at Columbia University in the City of New York. She is a Richard Hofstadter fellow, focusing on African and International History. Ouleye earned her M.Sc. in Migration Studies from the University of Oxford, where she received full funding through the Weidenfeld Scholarship. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude from Spelman College, in the top 1% of her class. With a major in international studies, concentrating on francophone Africa, Ouleye led the first group of Spelman and Morehouse students to Senegal in 2007 through her role as President of the Student Government Association.

She has received numerous scholarships and fellowships to work in the field of human rights in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Her work overseas includes refugee resettlement, gender equality, and girls’ education. Most recently, as a Henry Luce Foundation Fellow, she worked in partnership with community-based institutions on the prevention of child sex-trafficking and rehabilitation of survivors along Thailand’s borders with Myanmar and Laos.

While home in the U.S., Ouleye worked across the country with Obama for America in 2008 and 2012. She subsequently focused on issues of immigration reform and internet security as a research intern with the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Just before beginning the Ph.D. program, Ouleye worked as a consultant for the World Bank’s division on African Regional Integration and Partnerships.

Passionate about the betterment of society at home and abroad, she dedicates her work and studies to these causes.


Lisa C. Williams is an international heroine in her innovative efforts to counter child sex-trafficking. To date she has directly helped rescue 181 children and young women. It could be said that in child sex trafficking, Ms. Williams is a latter day Harriet Tubman.

In 1999 Ms. Williams founded Circle of Friends and subsequently established in 2007 Living Water for Girls and the Living Water Center. Using every resource she had, Williams built programs that would address systemic issues and ultimately change lives. The Federal Bureau of Investigation calls William’s intensive program “one of the most comprehensive, rehabilitative programs for child victims of sex trafficking in the country.”

In May 2015 Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed the historic Safe Harbor/Rachel’s Law Act into law. The act is named for Rachel, a survivor and graduate of the Living Water Programs who Lisa mentored. Later that year, the award-winning CNN Special Report: Children For Sale: the Fight to End Human Trafficking featured the Living Water programs.  Through this documentary, several victim-survivors whose lives Lisa helped to spare and transform spoke to 3.8 billion people across the world about the perils of America’s domestic human trafficking epidemic.

A sought after speaker, Ms. Williams has spoken at the United Nations 57th and 59th Commission on the Status of Women and at the White House on the topic: Eradicating Modern Day Slavery.

Ms. Williams is a former United States commissioned military officer and author of the best-selling book, Beautiful Layers: Stories from Those Who Survived the Life of Prostitution &
 Child Sexual Exploitation.

Dr. Maurice J. HobsonDr. Maurice J. Hobson is an Assistant Professor of African American Studies at Georgia State University. He was raised in Selma, Alabama. After graduating from Selma High School in 1995, he went on to the University of Alabama at Birmingham where he was also a student-athlete, playing fullback/tight end for the Blazer Football team. He earned a B.A. Degree in History and African American Studies from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1999.

Dr. Hobson earned the Ph.D. degree in History, focusing in African American History and 20th Century U.S. History from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  His research interests are grounded in the fields of African American history, 20th Century U.S. history, African American studies, oral history and ethnography, urban and rural history, political economy, and popular cultural studies. He is the author of  “The Legend of the Black Mecca: Myth, Maxim, and the Making of Modern Black Atlanta, Georgia” forthcoming with the University of North Carolina Press.

Dr. Hobson is an authority within the social sciences as he created a new paradigm called the Black New South that explores the experiences of black folk in the American South, with national and international implications, since WWII.  For this, he has served as an expert witness in court cases and as an authority for documentaries, films, movies and museum exhibitions.

CarrieCarrie Freshour is a Ph.D. candidate in Development Sociology at Cornell University. She is currently conducting her fieldwork two hours east of her hometown in Northeast Georgia, where she is studying the gendered and racialized practices of social reproduction among Black and Latina women poultry workers. Specifically, she is interested in how experiences of work on the line both shape and are shaped by women’s social positions and place-making strategies beyond the plant walls. Her ethnographic research illuminates the ways in which production and consumption practices are co-constructed through racialized and gendered labor regimes. This research reflects her broader interests in the political economy of food work and racialization in the US South. Carrie also worked as a research intern for the Food Chain Workers Alliance, held a research assistantship at the Office of Academic and Diversity Initiatives at Cornell, and served as Social Justice chair for the Society of Asian and Asian American Graduate Affairs. She was awarded the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant, the Celebr(ASIAN) Outstanding Graduate and Professional Student, and was inducted into the Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society. She has received funding through the SUNY Diversity Fellowship and the American Studies Graduate Research Grant. She is currently active in immigrant rights organizing in response to recent deportations and mentors at both the East Athens Community Center, U Lead, and public high school. Carrie is committed to scholar-activism and hopes to continue these efforts through her research, teaching, and service.

Dr. Laura Emiko SoltisDr. Laura Emiko Soltis currently serves as the Executive Director of Freedom University, an underground freedom school for undocumented students banned from public higher education in Georgia. Emiko began her social justice work as a student activist in numerous racial justice, anti-death penalty, and immigrants’ rights campaigns in the South. Emiko studied international affairs and violin performance as a Foundation Fellow at the University of Georgia, where she received her bachelor’s degree. During her doctoral program at Emory University, Emiko conducted her fieldwork as a scholar-activist in South Florida, where she participated as a member of the Student Farmworker Alliance and learned directly from the members of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a farmworker-led human rights organization in Immokalee, Florida. Working as an ally in this grassroots movement, Emiko deepened her understanding of effective human rights strategies in the United States, and sharpened her skills in immigrant-based mobilization, interracial organizing, documentary photography, and movement art and music making. Today, as a human rights educator in Atlanta, Emiko helps provide undocumented youth a safe space, college application and scholarship assistance, and the skills they need to be powerful leaders in their own freedom struggle. As a social movement strategist, Emiko works to advance the undocumented student movement in the South by building bridges between undocumented and documented student groups, advocating for fair admissions policies in higher education, and cultivating intergenerational relationships between undocumented students and veterans of the Black Freedom Movement.

Fahamu PecouFahamu Pecou is a visual artist and scholar whose works combine observations on hip-hop, fine art and popular culture. Pecou’s paintings, performance art, and academic work addresses concerns around contemporary representations of Black masculinity and how these images impact both the reading and performance of Black masculinity.

Currently a Ph.D. student in Emory University’s Institute of Liberal Arts (ILA), Pecou maintains an active exhibition schedule as well as public lectures and speaking engagements at colleges and museums nationwide.

His work is featured in noted private and public national and international collections including; Smithsonian National Museum of African American Art and Culture, Societe Generale (Paris),  Nasher Museum at Duke University, The High Museum of Art, Paul R. Jones Collection, Clark Atlanta University Art Collection and Museum of Contemporary Art Georgia.

Peabody Award Winning Poet AbyssPeabody Award-Winning Poet Abyss: Peabody Award, Kuumba Award  winning POET/Musician/EMCEE. the 1st Poet on 106th and Park. (AJ & Free) The ONLY Poet on a CD with PRINCE (RS2 Rhonda Smith)  the Gospel Choice Awards (12th Annual) Appeared on HBO Def Poetry twice (Seasons 1 & 5) 2nd Season of BETJ Lyric Cafe, Motivational Speaker.

About the National Archives

The National Archives and Records Administration is an independent federal agency that serves American democracy by safeguarding and preserving the records of our Government, so people can discover, use, and learn from this documentary heritage. The National Archives ensures continuing access to the essential documentation of the rights of American citizens and the actions of their government. From the Declaration of Independence to accounts of ordinary Americans, the holdings of the National Archives directly touch the lives of millions of people. The agency supports democracy, promotes civic education, and facilitates historical understanding of our national experience. The National Archives carries out its mission through a nationwide network of archives, records centers, and Presidential Libraries, and on the Internet at: archives.gov.

About the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum

The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum and the adjoining non-profit Carter Center are a unique presidential facility. The library and museum preserve the history of the Carters and the Carter Administration and make it accessible to researchers and the public. Next door, the private Carter Center focuses its attention on improving the lives of people by fighting disease, hunger, poverty, conflict, and oppression around the world. Learn more at jimmycarterlibrary.gov

About the National Archives Foundation

The National Archives Foundation is an independent nonprofit that increases public awareness of the National Archives, inspires a deeper appreciation of our country’s heritage, and encourages citizen engagement in our democracy. The Foundation generates financial and creative support for National Archives exhibitions, public programs, and educational initiatives, introducing America’s records to people around the U.S. and the world. Learn more at: archivesfoundation.org.

The “National Conversation on Rights and Justice” is presented in part by AT&T, Ford Foundation, Seedlings Foundation, and the National Archives Foundation.