Highlights from the 9th Annual Lift Every Voice Lecture Series 2019


Tenth Annual Lift Every Voice Lecture Series 2020

The Lift Every Voice Lecture Series is designed to raise critical issues that affect society and to offer solutions. During the series we will also highlight the contributions of African Americans, showcase talent and engage in constructive dialogue that will serve as a catalyst for positive action. Here is a look at last year’s series:

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2020, 6:30 PM

Karen Hunter, a publisher and author, was born on in Orange, New Jersey and graduated from Marylawn of the Oranges Academy in South Orange, New Jersey. After high school, Hunter attended Drew University, where she received her B.A. degree in English.

In 1989, Hunter joined the New York Daily News where she worked as a columnist and covered numerous topics for the paper, including sports, business, and news stories. From 1996 to 1998, Hunter worked as a professor of journalism at New York University. In 1999, as a member of the Daily News’ editorial board, she received a Pulitzer Prize for the paper’s series of editorials that formed a campaign to save the Apollo Theater in Harlem. While still at the New York Daily News, Hunter also began writing music reviews, through which she met various musicians, including LL Cool J. It was through him that Hunter began writing books, starting with a collaborative effort to write LL Cool J’s memoir I Make My Own Rules. She also has collaborated in creating the celebrity memoirs of Queen Latifah and Kris Jenner, as well as Reverend Al Sharpton’s book Al on America. Other books that Hunter worked on discussed issues of African American culture, such as Karyn Langhorne Folan’s Don’t Bring Home a White Boy.

In 2002, Hunter took a new academic position as an assistant visiting professor at Hunter College in the Department of Film and Media Studies. From 2003 to 2006, she co-hosted a morning talk show with Steve Malzberg at the AM radio station WWRL. Hunter also became a contributor to many cable news channels, including appearances on the Paula Zahn Now show on CNN and MSNBC.

In 2007, Hunter became CEO of her own publishing company, Karen Hunter Publishing, as an imprint of Simon and Schuster Publishing. The label publishes mostly popular nonfiction targeted towards the market for African American titles. In 2010, she published a book as the sole author, called Stop Being Niggardly, which is addressed to African Americans and their successes. Karen was the lead host on “The ‘RL Morning Show” on WWRL and was named one of the “Heavy Hundred” (The 100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts In America) by industry bible Talkers Magazine all three years on the air. She is currently the host of The Karen Hunter Show on SiriusXM. A former sports and news reporter with the New York Daily News for 16 years, Karen served four of those years on the editorial board of The News, where she was a member of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize- and Polk Award-winning teams. She was also the paper’s first African-American female news columnist.



TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2020, 6:30 PM

Rev. Cornell William Brooks is Professor of the Practice of Public Leadership and Social Justice at the Harvard Kennedy School.  He is also Director of The William Monroe Trotter Collaborative for Social Justice at the School’s Center for Public Leadership, and Visiting Professor of the Practice of Prophetic Religion and Public Leadership at Harvard Divinity School.  Brooks is the former president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), a civil rights attorney, and an ordained minister. Brooks was most recently visiting professor of social ethics, law, and justice movements at Boston University’s School of Law and School of Theology. He was a visiting fellow and director of the Campaign and Advocacy Program at the Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics in 2017. Brooks served as the 18th president of the NAACP from 2014 to 2017. Under his leadership, the NAACP secured 12 significant legal victories, including laying the groundwork for the first statewide legal challenge to prison-based gerrymandering. He also reinvigorated the activist social justice heritage of the NAACP, dramatically increasing membership, particularly online and among millennials. Among the many demonstrations from Ferguson to Flint during his tenure, he conceived and led “America’s Journey for Justice” march from Selma, Alabama to Washington, D.C., over 40 days and 1000 miles.  Prior to leading the NAACP, Brooks was president and CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, where he led the passage of pioneering criminal justice reform and housing legislation, six bills in less than five years.
He also served as senior counsel and acting director of the Office of Communications Business Opportunities at the Federal Communications Commission, executive director of the Fair Housing Council of Greater Washington, and a trial attorney at both the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the U.S. Department of Justice. Brooks served as judicial clerk for the Chief Judge Sam J. Ervin, III, on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Brooks holds a J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was a senior editor of the Yale Law Journal and member of the Yale Law and Policy Review, and a Master of Divinity from Boston University’s School of Theology, where he was a Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholar. He is the recipient of several honorary doctorates including: Boston University, Drexel University, Saint Peter’s University and Payne Theological Seminary as well as the highest alumni awards from Boston University and Boston University School of Theology. He also holds a B.A. from Jackson State University. He is a fourth-generation ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.



TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 2020, 6:30 PM

Dr. Avis Jones-Deweever, is a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Solutionist and Race & Gender Empowerment Expert. She’s the author of the award-winning book, How Exceptional Black Women Lead and Founder & CEO of the Exceptional Leadership Institute, a global personal and professional development firm that’s grounded in the notion that the best leadership is diverse leadership. As such, ELI helps organizations and diverse talent maximize their potential for exceptional success in an increasingly complex and interconnected world.
Dr. Avis’ clients range the gamut from major corporations to non-profit organizations to governmental institutions and colleges & universities. Across the spectrum, she understands how to face tough issues and break through to the power and potential that inclusive diversity brings. Dr. Avis has had the honor of being the Keynote Speaker to President Obama’s Inaugural President of the United States’ Young African Leaders Summit, was a Featured Speaker before the World Bank, and has conducted workshops and trainings on women’s career and entrepreneurial success on behalf of U.S. Embassies across the globe. As such, she’s served as a featured speaker in Tanzania, Colombia, Trinidad & Tobago, The Bahamas, Fiji, Tonga and Somoa in addition to speaking at corporations, conferences and colleges and universities throughout the U.S. Find Dr. Avis regularly as a Guest Host and Regular Panelist to TV One’s NewsOne Now with Roland Martin, PBS’ To the Contrary, Sirius XM Radio’s The Agenda. She also serves as a regular contributor to Black Enterprise, the Huffington Post, and NBC BLK. Over the years, she’s been featured in literally hundreds of television and radio appearances domestically and internationally. She’s also been published and quoted on some of the most prestigious platforms in the world and has leveraged her expertise to become a professional speaker, sharing her message throughout the US and in countries across the globe. With the goal of helping more Black women make the shift from merely becoming empowered to literally being in-power, she understands the importance of escaping obscurity and becoming known broadly as the expert that you already are. As a result, she has dedicated the next stage of her career to helping more women understand how to leverage the media to make the shift from modern-day Hidden Figure to recognized Thought Leader.



Series Host

tswanBishop Talbert W. Swan, II is the pastor of the Spring of Hope Church Of God In Christ, Assistant General Secretary for the International Church Of God In Christ, National Chaplain of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc., Executive Director of COGIC Family Services, an author, radio talk show host, newspaper columnist, and long-time community activist. He is the president of the Greater Springfield NAACP, Chairman of the Board of Dunbar Family & Community Center and sits on various other boards and committees. Bishop Swan has been at the forefront of civil rights issues throughout the region and the nation for over two decades. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Western New England College, an Associate of Science and Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies from Charter Oak State College, a Master of Arts in Theology from Hartford Seminary, a Master of Divinity from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary and Graduate Certificates from Hartford Seminary and Harvard Divinity School. Bishop Swan’s life’s work has been committed to the mission of ensuring the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and eliminating race-based discrimination.