Rooting Out Racism” – NBC Los Angeles

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Join us this Friday, June 5, at 7 p.m. right here for “The Time is Now: Rooting Out Racism.”

Beverly will bring together some of the leading voices fighting for real reform and solutions in the battle against racism.

Join us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, the NBCLA app.

Let’s all lean in, listen, and learn together. We hope you’ll join us for this candid and honest conversation.

Meet the Panelists

Jody David Armour

Jody David Armour is an author, playwright, and USC Professor of Law.

A widely published scholar and popular lecturer, he is a Soros Justice Senior Fellow of The Open Society Institute’s Center on Crime, Communities and Culture.

He has published an award-winning book, “Negrophobia and Reasonable Racism” and various law review articles.  His forthcoming works include a new book,  “N*gga Theory: Race, Language, Unequal Justice, and the Law” (LARB Books, August 2020); and article, “Hate Speech, the N-Word, the Confederate Battle Flag, the Legal Lexicon, and the Politics of Meaning” (University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law, Vol. 22 Issue 4 March 2020).

He teaches a diverse array of subjects, including Criminal Law, Torts, and Stereotypes.

Mark-Anthony Clayton-Johnson

Mark-Anthony is a licensed acupuncturist and seasoned organizer who was born and raised in Los Angeles. He is the founder of the Frontline Wellness Network, a network of health care providers working to end the public health crisis of incarceration and criminalization through action-oriented political education  and through bridging relationships between providers and grassroots campaigns against state violence.

The FWN is a member of the executive team of the JusticeLA Coalition, a Los Angeles-based coalition that successfully stopped the county from spending $4 billion on a women’s jail and a mental health jail while reallocating those funds to community-based treatment and alternatives to incarceration. He served as the Director of Health and Wellness at Dignity and Power Now and in this capacity, provided strategic support for DPN’s two member-led campaigns for a legally-empowered and independent civilian oversight commission of the sheriff’s department as well as the campaign against the county’s proposed jail construction plan.

He also led the Building Resilience project of DPN — a Healing Justice intervention and collaboration of formerly incarcerated people, organizers, health care providers and academics whose goal was to decarcerate the county jails via the diversion of incarcerated people into community-based treatment and the creation of community-based spaces to address the trauma of state violence. Mark-Anthony is also 2017 Soros Justice Fellow.

Melissa DePino

Melissa DePino and Michelle Saahene met at Starbucks in Philadelphia on April 12, 2018. They connected after witnessing two innocent black men being arrested for not buying a coffee. Michelle was the first person to speak up, and Melissa tweeted the video, which went viral with over 13 million views. It took their cohesive effort — a black woman and a white woman standing up to racism — to set off an international story that sparked the dialogue on what racism looks like today. 

Together they started From Privilege to Progress (P2P), a national movement to desegregate the public conversation about race. P2P calls on all Americans to join on the path to antiracism by learning, speaking up in their everyday lives and amplifying the voices of people of color on social media.

Melissa and Michelle continue the conversation they started that day through social media campaigns and as speakers who create awareness and inspire action toward racial justice.

Rev. Najuma Smith-Pollard

As program manager for the USC Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement, the Rev. Najuma Smith-Pollard combines her experience as a pastor and expertise as a community leader to run programs that train pastors to take on civic engagement work.

Smith-Pollard also is a pastor, motivational speaker, author, life coach, radio personality and community activist.

She accepted her call to ministry in 1996, while serving under the phenomenal tutelage of the Rev. Cecil L. “Chip” Murray, her father in ministry. Smith-Pollard was ordained as a Deacon in 1996 and as an Itinerant Elder in 2000. Since that time, she has served as Assistant Pastor and Pastor of Family Ministries at Christ Our Redeemer AME Church in Irvine, California; Pastor of A.K. Quinn AME Church in Moreno Valley, California; and Pastor of St. James AME Church in Los Angeles, California. In 2014, Smith-Pollard launched Word of Encouragement Community Church (WOECC.ORG) in Los Angeles. She is a frequent speaker at churches and church conferences.

Pursuing her passion to serve others beyond the walls of the church, Smith-Pollard founded the company Living on Assignment, LLC, a personal development coaching and consulting firm that helps people live rich and meaningful lives. She is also the executive director for the Southern California School of Ministry. She founded a sexual violence awareness and training campaign called “It’s Not Okay” ( Combining her passion for social justice and entrepreneurship, Smith-Pollard established Chocolate Tee’s, an urban apparel company that uses a portion of its profits to support selected non-profit efforts and the “It’s Not Okay” campaign.  She also leads the “…And She Can Preach!” mastermind group, committed to supporting emerging women preachers.

Smith-Pollard holds a B.S. in management from Pepperdine University, a Bachelor of Theology degree from the Southern California School of Ministry, an M.B.A. from Woodbury University and a Doctorate in Ministry from United Theological Seminary. She is an alumna of the “Passing The Mantle” Civic Engagement and Community Development Institute at USC, the precursor to the USC Cecil Murray Center’s Faith Leaders Institute.

Areas of Expertise

  • Preaching
  • Women clergy
  • Sexual Violence
  • Faith Leadership
  • Black Church

Erroll Southers

Dr. Erroll G. Southers is an internationally recognized expert on counterterrorism, public safety, infrastructure protection, and homeland security. He is the Director of the Safe Communities Institute at the University of Southern California, where he is also a Professor of the Practice in National & Homeland Security.

Dr. Southers is the Managing Director for Counter-Terrorism & Infrastructure Protection at TAL Global, an international security consulting firm. There he directs security assessments addressing transportation modalities, stadium venues, and educational and cultural institutions.

Previously, Dr. Southers served as: California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Deputy Director in the California Office of Homeland Security; Chief of Homeland Security and Intelligence for the Los Angeles World Airports Police Department (the nation’s largest airport police department); and President Barack Obama’s first nominee for Assistant Secretary of the Transportation Security Administration.

Before this, Dr. Southers was a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and also worked seven years as a police officer with the Santa Monica Police Department. Lecturing at Joint Chiefs of Staff Antiterrorism Seminars and testifying before Congress on homeland security matters, Dr. Southers was recognized in Security Magazine’s Top 25 Most Influential Industry Thought Leaders in the United States and is a recipient of the Earl Warren Outstanding Public Service Award.

He is a Senior Fellow of the UCLA School of Public Affairs and a Visiting Fellow of the International Institute of Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya, Israel. Dr. Southers lectures throughout the world and has been interviewed on CNN, NBC, MSNBC, NPR and a variety of other news programs. He holds Doctoral and Master’s degrees from USC and earned his BA from Brown University.

Dr. Southers has appeared in numerous documentary series and shows. He stars in the Bravo reality TV show Spy Games, serving as an “assessor” on a panel of judges. He also hosts Price Projection Room, a podcast about film and television featuring conversations with USC scholars and media industry leaders discussing visual storytelling, media literacy, diversity, and the public good.


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