Equity Summit 2018

Equity summits amplify the significant achievements and strategic breakthroughs of the equity movement, allowing us to learn from each other, strengthen our movement, and accelerate progress.

On April 11 – 13, 2018, in Chicago, we explored the complexity and urgency of building a multiracial coalition at this pivotal moment for our nation. Solidarity with the emerging people of color majority is essential to redress past harms, embrace inclusion, build an equitable economy, and model true democracy. At the Summit, we focused on practice and policy, politics and power—the ingredients needed for transformative change. The equity movement is stronger than ever, bolstered by our combined resistance to assaults on hard-earned victories and nuanced by our deeper understanding of intersectionality and the interconnectedness of issues.

Missed Equity Summit 2018? See the archive of our plenaries (below) and Summit photo essay

Plenaries are the cornerstones of the Summit, featuring visionary leaders whose wisdom and insight set the tone for discussion, situate the equity agenda in the national context, and inspire participants to push the boundaries of their work. Embodying the Summit’s central theme — Our Power. Our Future. Our Nation. — the following plenaries call on equity advocates to recognize and claim the power to radically shape the nation's future and their role in it.

Our Power: Radical Imagination Fueling Change
Thursday, April 12

Radical imagination — the audacity that drives us to envision a new and better world — has been the kindling that sparks activism within communities of color for generations. It is this force for creativity, hope, and resilience that sustains us in the face of injustice, and it must now embolden equity leaders to step into their power in new and expansive ways. This plenary will feature innovators from multiple fields who are wielding instruments of influence — media, technology, business, government — to deliver equity wins at scale. Their work exemplifies the courage and radical imagination necessary to translate bold visions into liberating impact for low-income communities and communities of color. (Speakers: Angela Glover Blackwell, @agb4equity; Gerry Hudson, @SEIU_GRHudson; Maria Teresa Kumar, @MariaTeresa1; Jose Antonio Vargas, @joseiswriting; Linda Sarsour, @lsarsour; Rashad Robinson, @rashadrobinson).

Our Future: The Leading Edge of the Equity Movement
Friday, April 13

To realize the full power of equity, we must push beyond reform to transformation. Rapidly changing dynamics within the realms of technology, work, politics, and the environment provide the opportunity and the imperative for advocates to shape America’s future and claim the 21st century for equity. At the same time, the future of the equity movement will be forged in the dismantling of outdated and oppressive structures that hold the nation back, and the radical reimagining of systems that foster inclusion, ownership, and shared prosperity. In this plenary, speakers will map the leading edge of the equity movement in light of ongoing innovation, transition, and challenge across sectors. (Speakers: Ai-jen Poo, @aijenpoo; Carmen Rojas, @crojasphd; Charlene Carruthers, @CharleneCac; Derrick Johnson, @DerrickNAACP;  Lata Reddy, @latareddy; Michael McAfee, @mikemcafee06; Rip Rapson, @RipRapson; Tara Houska, @zhaabowekwe).

Our Nation: Transformative Solidarity in a Divided Nation
Friday, April 13

Our fates are inextricably linked. Solidarity across social movements, cultures, races, and ethnicities is the antidote to oppression, hate, and racism. Equity is the surest path to realizing the nation's best potential by unlocking avenues for collaboration and mutual understanding. This plenary will explore the urgent task of forging complex coalitions in an era of political turmoil. How can we build on the success of past activists, while remaining cognizant of the new and challenging demands of the future. (Speakers: Carmen Perez, @msladyjustice1Deepa Iyer, @dviyer; john powell, @profjohnapowell; Lori Pourier, @lplakotaManuel Pastor, @Prof_MPastorMichael Tubbs, @MichaelDTubbsTiq Milan, @TheMrMilanVanessa Moses, @vjmwest1).

Three sessions were streamed @ Facebook Live! 

Claiming the Torch: Culture, Equity, and the Political Moment
Thursday, April 12
The past two years in politics have made it abundantly clear that to achieve a vision for a more equitable economy and society, advocates must become more engaged in key political battles. This will require activities and collaborations that are new to many in the equity movement, including grassroots mobilizing, arts and culture initiatives, partnerships with campaign strategists, and electoral organizing. How can advocates work together to make equity priorities the driving force for our cultural institutions, governments, and communities? How can we equip the movement with the targeted skills and tactics necessary to enhance our political impact?

In this session, influential spokespeople from across the country shared how they are amplifying their message, refining their strategies, and expanding the reach of their campaigns. (Speakers: Nicole Boucher, Jeff Chang @zentronix, Rukia Lumumba, Danica Roem, Faviana Rodriguez).

Messaging the Movement: Narratives for Racial and Economic Justice 
Thursday, April 12

Cultural narratives are fundamental to our understanding of society. They speak to our aspirations and values, inform public discourse, and affect policymaking. What will it take to shift the narrative toward equity in today's political climate? How do advocates fighting for racial and economic justice craft and disseminate persuasive messaging? This workshop explored current trends in the field of narrative change, and highlight the ways in which thought leaders and practitioners are harnessing the power of storytelling to drive policy change. Speakers will share how to forge messages that resonate across issues and constituencies, inspiring community action and contributing to bold, inclusive narratives. (Speakers: Angela Glover Blackwell, @agb4equity; Jeff Chang, @zentronix; john powell, @profjohnapowell; Maya Harris, @mayaharris_).

Reimagining Cities: Local Vanguards for National Change
Friday, April 13
At a time of increasing dysfunction and gridlock in Washington, DC, cities have become pivotal sites for innovation, growth, and advocacy. From piloting a universal basic income to leading the battle against climate change, city governments are taking risks, championing bold solutions, and pushing back against threats to racial and economic justice. This session explored the critical role that local leaders can play on the national stage when they advance policies and practices that challenge the status quo and lead the nation toward a broader vision for inclusive prosperity. (Speakers: Tracey Ross, @traceylross; Andrea Jenkins, Helen Gym, @HelenGymAtLarge; Tanya Wallace-Gobern).