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Solutions of the Year: 3 Responses to the Nation’s Reckoning on Racial Injustice

Confronting Our History Through Art, Education and Finance: Register now for the virtual workshop and to receive our special issue magazine, “The 20 Best Solutions of 2020.”

December 8, 2020

COVID-19, a deadly pandemic that has disproportionately struck Black and Brown communities. We are centuries into the equally pernicious plague of police violence toward unarmed Black Americans. Both realities are grounded in structural white supremacy. Both have made plain the pervasive inequity baked into the American Experiment. As our moderator, Andre Perry, says in his book, “Know Your Price,” “The deliberate devaluation of Blacks and their communities has had very real, far-reaching, and negative economic and social effects. … But there is nothing wrong with Black people that ending racism can’t solve.” The 2020 murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, and numerous others have forced a confrontation with racial injustice. The conversations, the anger, the protests aren’t new; but these events lend them renewed urgency. How must we meet this moment, and move forward as one? Join Next City as we explore three specific responses to this reckoning with racial justice.

The financial reckoning: What happens when you pressure investors to stop funding “police brutality bonds?”
The artistic reckoning: How can we best honor and preserve the large-scale art that memorializes our rage, grief, love and hope?
The educational reckoning: How can unschooling our children foster a life of freedom and collective liberation, address inequity and break systems of oppression?

Andre Perry
Brookings Institution

Andre M. Perry is a fellow in the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings, a scholar-in-residence at American University, and a columnist for the Hechinger Report. He is the author of the new book Know Your Price: Valuing Black Lives and Property in America’s Black Cities. A nationally known and respected commentator on race, structural inequality, and education, Perry is a regular contributor to MSNBC and has been published by The New York Times, The Nation, The Washington Post, and Perry has also made appearances on CNN, PBS, National Public Radio, NBC, and ABC. His research focuses on race and structural inequality, education, and economic inclusion. Perry’s recent scholarship at Brookings has analyzed Black-majority cities and institutions in America, focusing on valuable assets worthy of increased investment.

Ryan Bowers

Ryan Bowers is a co-founder of Activest, an investment research firm that uses economic modeling, financial analysis, and social policy research to advance racial justice in municipal finance. Previously he was a Senior Partner at Frontline Solutions, a national social justice consulting firm, and served in the Mayor’s Office in Philadelphia. He has an MBA from Saint Joseph’s University.

Akilah Richards
Raising Free People Network

Akilah S. Richards is passionate about mindful partnerships and conscious parenting. She uses audio and written mediums to amplify the ways that unschooling in particular, is serving as healing grounds and liberation work for Black, non-Black Indigenous, and People of Color communities. Her celebrated unschooling podcast, Fare of the Free Child, and the numerous workshops and gatherings she has been part of, have garnered the attention of Forbes Magazine, The New York Times, Good Morning America, and most importantly, BIPOC families interested or living in more healthy, consent-based, intergenerational relationships. Her recent experiences within the intersection of privilege, parenting, and power are detailed in her latest book, Raising Free People: Unschooling as Liberation and Healing Work (

Leesa Kelly, Memorialize the Movement
Kenda Zellner-Smith, Save The Boards Mpls

Leesa Kelly co-founded Memorialize the Movement in Minneapolis during the racial justice protests of Summer 2020, starting a GoFundMe page to get support to preserve and store artistic representations of the fight for justice once businesses removed the plywood coverings upon which murals of grief, anger and hope had been painted. Kenda Zellner-Smith started a similar Twin Cities movement called Save the Boards. They've since joined forces as Save the Boards to Memorialize the Movement, and have now partnered with the Minnesota African American Heritage Museum & Gallery to preserve the art in an exhibit.

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