Women gathered for a BWFJ’s Women’s Commission Event in 1997.
Board of Directors
Adreonna Bennett is the Community Engagement Archivist at UNC Charlotte’s Atkins Library in special collections and university archives. She coordinates library events and projects centered on special collections holdings. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from UNC Chapel Hill and a Master’s in Library Science with a concentration in archives from North Carolina Central University. Her research interests include African American history and North Carolina history.
james pope’s research/teaching maps the intellectual traditions and philosophical continuities in African/a radical thought and cultural behavior as it relates to understanding the interaction between human rights, social movements, global African/a radicalism, and critical consciousness formation. Before Winston Salem State University, james taught various courses on African and Diasporic history, culture, and politics at Georgetown, Howard, and Virginia Commonwealth Universities. Having published chapters that explore topics ranging from race & human rights to Pan Africanism & identity, james is author of An Africana Reader: An Anthology of Sociopolitical Thought and Cultural Resistance. Other work and ideas have appeared in, but not limited to, the Journal of African American Studies; ROAR Magazine; Atlanta Blackstar; The Final Call; Poverty & Race Journal. james has appeared on RT; NPR; Pacifica Radio, to name a few. james is [co]Curator, [co]Host & Executive Producer of AfricaNow!, heard on WPFW, 89.3FM, Pacifica Radio, Washington, DC (1-2PM, EST, U.S., every Wednesday); and Creator, Host & Producer of Africa World Now Project heard on WSNC 90.5FM, NPR, Winston Salem State University (7-8PM, EST, U.S., every Wednesday).
Jonina Stith Wrenn
Jonina Stith Wrenn graduated from North Carolina State University with a Bachelor of Science in Human Biology and minors in Nutrition and Philosophy of Health, Medicine, and Human Value. She is currently studying for the MCAT to apply to medical school. Jonina works as a medical technologist at LabCorp in the Biochemical Genetics department. Jonina is member of the Black Workers for Justice Women’s Working Group. She also volunteers with InterAct of Wake County, a safe place for women and children who have been affected by domestic violence and sexual abuse. Jonina intends to practice as a family physician in Eastern North Carolina as well as work in public policy related to equitable health care.
Mwalimu Wa Watu Ngala
Mwalimu Wa Watu Ngala is a community organizer and activist in Greenville, NC. Mwalimu started organizing with the Socialist Party USA in 2018, later joining the Southern Workers Assembly's (SWA) "Organize the South" campaign in 2020. Mwalimu works with Mapinduzi (Kiswahili for "Revolution") in the Greenville area. Mapinduzi's work centers on addressing police brutality, community control of police, mutual aid, fighting for housing rights, and radical housing alternatives. In addition, Mwalimu works on Mapinduzi's quarterly newsletter and organizing political education study groups. Since October 2020, Mwalimu serves as the co-chair of the organization. In February 2021, he became a member of Ubuntu Freedom, a coalition organization connecting radical activists from around the country. It organizes primarily around a set of Earth and health-based principles of freedom.
Chanelle 'C.C.' Croxton
Chanelle ‘C.C.’ Croxton is a labor organizer whose skills were sharpened by the many brilliant freedom fighters in Durham, North Carolina. She is currently the NC Organizing Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and leads the recruitment, membership building, campaign work, and movement building of Black care and domestic workers in NC to win protections and improvements at the workplace and in their lives. Her work is driven by the belief that engaging in worker struggle rooted in racial justice is the pathway towards our collective liberation.
Kathy Whitaker Knight
Kathy Whitaker Knight joined the NC Interfaith Power & Light team in the summer of 2020 as a Faith Energy Champion program partner with The Roanoke Center and Roanoke Electric Cooperative (REC). She is a REC member-owner and lives in Tillery, located in northeastern North Carolina. Kathy received a BSW from East Carolina University (graduated at age 40). Kathy spent a very rewarding 25 years working with MH/SA/ID populations, DV/SA survivors, breast cancer survivors, PLWHA and their families. She worked two years as a 2020 Census Field Supervisor.
Tony Menelik Van Der Meer, PhD
Tony Menelik Van Der Meer is a community activist, organizer, and teacher. He has served as president of the Boston Black Political Task Force (BPTF), and the Boston Pan African Forum (BPAF). He has also served as a local advisor to the Boston Black Lives Matter chapter. Dr. Van Der Meer has been teaching for the past 26 years at the University of Massachusetts Boston where he is a Senior Lecturer in the Africana Studies Department. He received his MS in Community Economic Development from the Graduate School of Business at New Hampshire College; and received his MA, and PhD in Leadership and Change from Antioch University. He has designed and organized several historic domestic tours to Montgomery, Birmingham, and Selma, Alabama to engage students and community members in intimate and interactive exchange about the Civil Rights/Black Power Movement. On the international level, Dr. Van Der Meer has led delegations of students and community members on guided visits to Havana, Santiago de Cuba, Guantanamo, and Baracoa, Cuba. Dr. Van Der Meer also consults and works together with individuals, community groups, and organizations to facilitate discussions on restorative justice, understanding and undoing racism, social movements, leadership development, and change processes. Dr. Van Der Meer is the coeditor of the book State of the Race, Creating Our 21st Century: Where Do We Go From Here? (2004), Diaspora Press.
Nichel Dunlap – Thompson
Nichel Dunlap-Thompson is a full-time student, owner, and founder of Production of Knowledge LLC, as well Eye of a Dove, Inc. Nichel is the Recording Secretary for the Charlotte City chapter of UE150 Public Service Workers Union as well as a Statewide Trustee. With the help of some amazing colleagues, she has participated in several press conferences, assisted in hosting a week-long organizing blitz, recruited and stayed connected to new members as well as long standing ones. All in an effort to bring awareness to the unfair labor practices in the U.S. South.
Tasneem Siddiqui is an assistant professor in the Department of History, Politics, and Social Justice at Winston Salem State University. She is a member of the Africa World Now Project Media collective, serving as the senior researcher, content contributor, production director, and associate producer for the weekly radio programs Africa World Now Project, which airs every Wednesday on WSNC 90.5 from 7-8 pm EST and AfricaNow! on WPFW 89.3 from 1-2 pm EST. In addition, she is currently working on her book, Freedom is a Place: Black Self-Determination and Land-Based Struggles in the Lowcountry and Sea Islands. Her work explores the intersections of race, gender, categories of power, spirituality, and geography and how historically marginalized peoples and communities produce systems of knowledge that informs their futurity and freedom.
Joseph f. Jordan
Joseph F. Jordan worked in community-based activist organizations for most of his life and early on discovered his love of, and preference for, international work based on the principles of solidarity and anti-imperialism. He is deeply interested and invested in the role that the arts and cultural expression play in peoples’ struggles for self-determination. He is a member of organizations such as the Southern Africa Support Project and the Afro-Colombian Solidarity Network, which he helped to create. Joseph Jordan has worked in higher education for the past 48 years and currently works at UNC at Chapel Hill, where he focuses on diaspora social justice movements and the cultural politics of race, identity, and artistic production in the diaspora. He currently serves on the Board of the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora (ASWAD); the City of Durham Cultural Advisory Board; and is the founding and current Board member of Our Children’s Place – for the Children of Incarcerated Mothers. He has served on the Editorial Advisory Boards of The Black Scholar, and PALARA – Publication of the Afro-Latin American Research Association and is the immediate past Chair of the Durham Historic Preservation Commission. He has published a few things, such as: Cabral, Solidarity and the African Diaspora in the Americas); special issue of The Black Scholar: The Anti-Apartheid Movement in the 1970’s; (book chapter) in No Easy Victories: African Liberation and American Activists over a Half-Century, 1950-2000.
Mary Hooks is a Black, lesbian, feminist, abolitionist, pan-Africanist, mother, a member of Southerners on New Ground and part of the leadership and staff of the Movement 4 Black Lives. Mary joined SONG as a member in 2009 and began organizing with SONG in 2010. Mary’s commitment to Black liberation, which encompasses the liberation of LGBTQ folks, is rooted in her experiences growing up under the impacts of the War on Drugs. Her people are migrants of the Great Migration, factory workers, church folks, Black women, hustlers and addicts, dykes, studs, femmes, queens and all people fighting for the liberation of oppressed people. Mary Hooks believes that in order to reach a world that is free from fear, the safety and dignity of all people must be honored. Black people, oppressed people, and all those who are impacted by white supremacy must vision a new world, build our collective power, both locally and globally, and take action. She has been passionate about transformative organizing work that changes hearts and minds. She has been at the forefront of combatting racism, by taking on fights that impact the lives of Black and brown queer and trans people in the South, such as the work to abolish cash bail, defunding police, re-imagining public safety, and developing new organizers. When she is not ripping the eyebrows off of white supremacy and injustice, you can find Hooks plotting, scheming, and dreaming, but most of all loving on her people. “The mandate; to avenge the suffering of our ancestors, to earn the respect of future generations, and to be transformed in the service of the work. Let’s get free ya’ll!” - Mary Hooks
Robin D. G. Kelley
Robin D.G. Kelley is the Gary B. Nash Endowed Chair in U.S. History at UCLA. His books include, Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original (2009); Africa Speaks, America Answers: Modern Jazz in Revolutionary Times (2012); Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination (2002); Race Rebels: Culture Politics and the Black Working Class (1994); Yo’ Mama’s DisFunktional!: Fighting the Culture Wars in Urban America (1997); and Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression (1990). He is currently completing two books, Black Bodies Swinging: An American Postmortem and The Education of Ms. Grace Halsell: An Intimate History of the American Century (both forthcoming Metropolitan Books). His essays have appeared in several anthologies and publications, including The Nation, Monthly Review, New York Times, Counterpunch, Souls, Black Music Research Journal, Callaloo, Black Renaissance/Renaissance Noir, Social Text, Metropolis, American Visions, Fashion Theory, American Historical Review, Souls, Metropolis, frieze: contemporary art and culture, and The Boston Review, for which he also serves as Contributing Editor.
- Timothy is Vice President of the CAAMWU chapter of UE Local 150 (Carolina Automotive, Aerospace & Machine Workers Union) and a member of UE150’s Executive Board. He is employed at Rocky Mount Engine Plant as a equipment control tech.
- “I’m of the Christian Faith, this is where I get my guidance and understand in spiritual and earthly matter…. I’m a member of Quankey Missionary Baptist Church where I’m a part of the male choir. Enjoy working in the Community with organizations such as meals on wheels, soup kitchen, school power pack lunches
- Love to travel, spend time with grandkids, enjoy being involved in community activities, playing sports, working on all kinds of machines, and riding motorcycles
Communiversity Advisory Panel
Abdul Alkalimat (PhD University of Chicago) is a scholar activist. His activist history includes SNCC, Organization of Black American Culture (OBAC), Peoples College, African Liberation Support Committee, Black Radical Congress, Black Left Unity Network. His scholarship includes Introduction to Afro-American Studies (1973), The Wall of Respect (2017), and The History of Black Studies (forthcoming 2021) Library video: http://alkalimat.org/audioviz.html#theinstitute website: http://alkalimat.org/.
Ashaki Binta is a veteran organizer and freedom fighter in the Black Freedom Movement. She is a member of the Black Workers for Justice, having served in various areas of responsibility over the years including: Editor of Justice Speaks; founding organizer of the BWFJ Women’s Commission; Director of Organization; and International Director. She currently serves as National Organizer of the National Black Liberation Movement (NBLM) National Unity Initiative. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Erin Dale is Executive Director of The Partnership Funds and a founding owner of Fertile Ground Food Cooperative in southeast Raleigh, NC.
James W. “Jim” Wrenn
Jim Wrenn was educated at Virginia Military Institute and Duke University. He worked forty-five years as a wage worker and labor activist at Duke University Heating Plant, Firestone Tire & Rubber Co, and Cummins Rocky Mount Engine Plant, retiring in 2019. Jim was a member and officer of Operating Engineers Local 465, Machinists Local 2541 and Carolina Auto, Aerospace & Machine Workers Union/UE Local 150. Since 2001, he has been a member of Phoenix Historical Society: African American History of Edgecombe County (NC). Jim is the author of several articles and research papers on Abner Berry, Knights of Labor in Edgecombe County (1886-1896), Tobacco Workers Leaf House organizing campaign (1946), the 1978 Rocky Mount sanitation workers strike, and the 1979 Greensboro Massacre.
Akinyele Umoja is an educator, scholar-activist and author. Currently, he is a professor of the Department of African-American Studies at Georgia State University. Dr. Umoja’s writing has been featured in scholarly publications including The Journal of Black Studies, New Political Science, The International Journal of Africana Studies, Black Scholar, Radical History Review, and Socialism and Democracy. He is the author of We Will Shoot Back: Armed Resistance in The Mississippi Freedom Movement (New York University Press, 2013).
Saladin Muhammad is a founding member of Black Workers for Justice; co-organizer of the Organize South Solidarity Your; retired International Rep of United Electrical Workers Union; co-organizer of the Southern Workers Assembly; Southern regional Rep Million Worker March; co-organizer of Hurricane Katrina Survivors Assembly.
Sekia Royal is the president of UE 150, a Public Service Workers Union in NC. Sekia has served in several leadership positions including Vice President and co-chair of their national Women’s Caucus. She is also a member of the Southern Workers Assembly and Black Workers for Justice along with a host of organizations. Originally from Kansas, Sekia is the owner operator of Premier BBQ and Catering.
The Communiversity Working Group
Ajamu Amiri Dillahunt-Holloway
Ajamu Amiri Dillahunt-Holloway is a Ph.D. student in the Department of History at Michigan State University and an Assistant Editor at Black Perspectives, the award-winning blog of the African American Intellectual History Society. Ajamu is a member of Black Workers for Justice (BWFJ), a board member with the Interreligious Foundation of Community Organizations (IFCO), and a board member with the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network. He is also a former intern with the SNCC Digital Gateway Project at Duke University. In May of 2019, Ajamu graduated from North Carolina Central University with a B.A. in History and a B.A. in Political Science. Ajamu also participated in the historic Demilitarize! Durham2Palestine Coalition and is Co-Director of The Communiversity.
Shafeah M’Balia is a member of Black Workers for Justice, having served over the years in various capacities including, Managing Editor of Justice Speaks, a founding member of BWFJ Women’s Commission, coordinator for Eastern NC Hub. She is also a founding member of Muslims for Social Justice and Southern Regional Coordinator of the Imam Jamil Action Network. She is Co-Director of The Communiversity.
Kathy Whitaker Knight —See Board of Directors
Mwalimu Watu — See Board of Directors
Tasneem Siddiqui — See Board of Directors