Hundreds of movement leaders, activists, organizers, funders, and journalists gathered in Atlanta in June 2023 at Alight, Align, Arise, an invitation-only conference on reparations organized by the Decolonizing Wealth Project. As the conference’s media partner, YES! Media spoke with more than a dozen prominent organizers, activists, and leaders, among them House Rep. Jamaal Bowman of New York.
Bowman was born and raised in New York City, spending his early years in public housing and rent-controlled apartments. He began his career as a crisis intervention teacher in a Bronx public school and has a doctorate in education. In 2009, he founded the Cornerstone Academy for Social Action, a middle school in the Bronx, where he served as principal for a decade before running for public office. He was elected to the House of Representatives after defeating the 16-term incumbent Eliot Engel in the 2020 Democratic primary.
Bowman spoke with YES! Racial Justice Editor Sonali Kolhatkar in Atlanta about his view of the movement for reparations and why the federal government needs to take immediate action.
This video is part of Realizing Reparations, an exclusive digital series exploring the leading edges of the reparations ecosystem—and revealing a path toward healing and reconciliation.
This series was funded by a grant from Liberated Capital, a fund of the Decolonizing Wealth Project, which is led by Edgar Villanueva, of the Lumbee tribe, and works globally to disrupt the existing systems of moving and controlling capital using education and healing programs, radical reparative giving, and storytelling. Reporting and production of the series was funded by this grant, but YES! maintained full editorial control of the content published herein. Read our editorial independence policy.
Sonali Kolhatkar joined YES! in summer 2021, building on a long and decorated career in broadcast and print journalism. She is an award-winning multimedia journalist, and host and creator of YES! Presents: Rising Up with Sonali, a nationally syndicated television and radio program airing on Free Speech TV and dozens of independent and community radio stations. She is also Senior Correspondent with the Independent Media Institute’s Economy for All project where she writes a weekly column. She is the author of Rising Up: The Power of Narrative in Pursuing Racial Justice (2023) and Bleeding Afghanistan: Washington, Warlords, and the Propaganda of Silence (2005). Her forthcoming book is called Talking About Abolition (Seven Stories Press, 2025). Sonali is co-director of the nonprofit group, Afghan Women’s Mission which she helped to co-found in 2000. She has a Master’s in Astronomy from the University of Hawai’i, and two undergraduate degrees in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Texas at Austin. Sonali reflects on “My Journey From Astrophysicist to Radio Host” in her 2014 TEDx talk of the same name.