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 is currently the racial justice editor at YES! Media and a writing fellow with Independent Media Institute. She was previously a weekly columnist for Truthdig.com. She is also the host and creator of Rising Up with Sonali, a nationally syndicated television and radio program airing on Free Speech TV and dozens of independent and community radio stations. Sonali won First Place at the Los Angeles Press Club Annual Awards for Best Election Commentary in 2016. She also won numerous awards including Best TV Anchor from the LA Press Club and has also been nominated as Best Radio Anchor 4 years in a row. She is the author of Bleeding Afghanistan: Washington, Warlords, and the Propaganda of Silence, and the co-director of the nonprofit group, Afghan Women's Mission. Her forthcoming book is Rising Up: The Power of Narrative in Pursuing Racial Justice (City Lights, 2023). 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. She reflects on her professional path in her 2014 TEDx talk, “My Journey From Astrophysicist to Radio Host.” She can be reached at sonalikolhatkar.com