The 47th Annual Conference of the National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL)

“Escalating Our Fight In the Decade: Bringing Human Rights Home”

Greetings and welcome back to Chicago! The focus for this year’s conference will be on escalating our commitment to collective work and responsibility across our organization especially supporting our newest generation of leaders, both in NCBL and in our communities during this period of heightened genocidal actions toward Black people on every front. Our interdisciplinary and intergenerational strength in advocating for and providing the best resources, strategies, services and support to the community and for our future, is critical.

As an African people, we are inextricably linked to the land and culture of our historical and actual memory, depending on where in diaspora we were born. At this time in history it is imperative that we reconnect our struggles and strategies as African descendants demanding freedom and justice once and for all. These conference sessions are designed to illuminate best practices, shared experiences, and joint solutions for collective mobilization as vital tools to advance our understanding of new and expanded means of realizing our emancipation.

We are pleased to have our conference hosted at the De Paul University College of Law in downtown Chicago, and to connect with the De Paul University Black Law Student Association (BLSA) and other esteemed comrades. The stellar reputation of the De Paul University College of Law as a socially conscious center of excellence in preparing legal professionals makes it indeed an honor for us to bring the 2016 NCBL Conference here to convene at this urban campus once again. Of note, BLSA will soon celebrate 50 years since its founding, in which NCBL was a major factor.  We could not be more proud to connect with these scholar-practitioners during this year’s historic conference. We are especially delighted to welcome BLSA members from the many campuses across the city with a 2016 Call for Papers launching a President’s Scholarship and a new NCBL History Project scholarship essay activity. Please email for details.

Twelve Sessions, a Town Hall/Teach In, and CLE Training

NCBL will offer at least a dozen sessions during the 2016 Annual Conference, including a community based Town Hall/Teach In event, plus a powerful half day of legal CLE training on litigating police brutality and misconduct cases, station house defense, and training on how to leverage the international human rights mechanisms in U.S. legal cases. More than two dozen speakers will bring and share their expertise on intersecting issues confronting our people today. As always, NCBL brings together an audience from across the nation and the world, to participate in our conference. This year we will leverage the deep and wide diasporic roots of Chicago with our African born and West Indian national communities and family as fellow panelists and conferees. How appropriate, in The International Decade for People of African Descent, and only months after hosting the United Nations Working Group of Experts for People of African Descent (UNWGEPAD) for their fact-finding mission to Chicago, where they heard and amplified our call for “Full Reparations” for African descendants of U.S. chattel slavery.

Please join us for these informative and interactive sessions, to expand, engage, and elevate our joint teaching and learning for our very survival. And stay tuned for the special announcement of our dynamic and renowned NCBL conference keynote speaker who will connect the current reality of movement lawyering and activism against the backdrop of the most blatant attacks on our humanity and existence on U.S. soil (and beyond) since Reconstruction.

Thursday, October 6th

Welcome Reception

6:30pm — 8:30pm

Our 2016 conference will open with a Welcome Reception on Thursday evening, October 6th  at the DePaul University College of Law, (25 E. Jackson) in downtown Chicago. Members of the local community and communities across the U.S. are expected to attend, as well as our NCBL members and supporters throughout the nation and abroad. Co-hosted by DePaul’s BLSA chapter.

Friday, October 7th

Check in and Registration: 8:30a-4:30p

LEAP Project                        at DePaul University College of Law

9:00am — 1:30pm

Our 2016 conference sessions at DePaul University College of Law, will officially open with NCBL’s Law Enforcement Accountability Project (LEAP), which will be an impactful morning of training designed to equip our lawyers and legal workers with the knowledge, skills, and a resource team to: (1) educate the community about the legal rights and responsibilities of citizens and their relationships with law-enforcement authorities, and (2) pursue appropriate remedies in the law when police abuse occurs. NCBL has applied for and expects to provide 4.5 CLE credits. Skilled and accomplished faculty will include the renowned civil and human rights activist/attorney Standish E. Willis, Esq., accomplished Detroit litigator Jeffrey L. Edison, Esq., and FDLA’s Program Manager and Trainer, Attorney Samoane Williams. A bonus pro-bono “LUNCH & LEARN” CLE on Station House Defense from First Defense Legal Aid is included from 12 Noon-1:30pm at no charge.

*Additional registration required for LEAP CLE credit


Please visit and support our special NCBL 2016 Conference Resource Options:

  • Afrikan Market Vendors


Creating Systems of Accountability: Restorative Justice, Policy Reform and More

2:00pm — 3:30pm

Self-determination requires exposing entrenched systems of oppression and holding individuals and entities responsible for the necessary changes to ensure justice. Best practices will be  shared from models currently being applied with success in Chicago, New York and beyond. This panel will include an analysis of recent calls-to-action via the Freedom Manifesto and Movement for Black Lives Platform. Moderator: Atty. Emmanuel Andre, Chicago. Panelists: Soffiyah Elijah– Alliance of Families for Justice; Esther Calhoun– Black Belt Citizens of Uniontown, Alabama; Frank Chapman – National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression/CPAC; Angaza Laughinghouse– Black Workers for Justice

Movement Lawyering and Current Youth Movements

3:30pm — 5:00pm

Panel discussion of multiple movement lawyering and organizing efforts currently underway in Chicago, IL. The proximity and examples of Freedom Square, the #Let UsBreatheCollective, BYP100, Assata’s Daughters, We Charge Genocide, and Fearless Leading by the Youth provide valuable opportunities to better understand and connect NCBL’s mission as the legal arm of the movement for Black liberation to those on the front line as the current generation carves new pathways for resistance, leadership, and justice. This discussion will provide critical insights on issues, actions and opportunities for further collaboration and transformation of the status quo in the current climate of protests and the broad-based Black Lives Matter movement. Moderator: Quinn Rallins, JD 2016, Chicago. Jill Humphries, PhD.– Analyst, Scholar Activist, Legal Observer Training Developer; Christian Snow– Organizer, Law Student at Northeastern U.; Timmy Rose– WCG and People’s Response Team, Law Student at Chicago-Kent, M. Adams– Freedom Inc., Movement for Black Lives

We will regroup after dinner for transportation (out of town conferees) to the Town Hall meeting. Dinner is on your own in the Loop or we encourage you to partake of one of Chicago’s many fine food trucks.

Town Hall Meeting/Teach-In

50 Years of Black Power, COINTELPRO 2.0” – Film and Discussion

7:00pm — 9:30pm

Press Conference 7pm-7:30pm kicks off our Town Hall meeting at The Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies – 700 Oakwood Blvd. Through this community forum we will review and reflect on the legacy and future of the Black Power Movement and the era which gave birth to both the Black Panther Party and NCBL/BLSA.  Post-film panel will provide perspective on our movement from Freedom Summer through Baton Rouge.  There will be a question and answer session with national and local discussants including NCBL attorneys/founders, renowned scholars, and activists pursuing freedom for U.S. COINTELPRO Political Prisoners. Moderators: Atty. Tom Ruffin, D.C. & Atty. Stan Willis, Chicago.

Saturday, October 8th

Economic Justice: Building Black Solidarity Economies

9:00am – 10:30am                        at DePaul University College of Law

In asserting our right to self-determination, Black community-based institutions must control the resources and organizations that provide for the material needs of the Black community. As capitalism has never served the masses of Black people, this panel explores the possibilities of creating a Black-led, alternative economic system. Lifting up the legacy of the late Chokwe Lumumba, this panel will engage its participants in a discussion of organizing and lawyering strategies towards Black economic self-determination and Black Liberation, emphasizing the need for local and global Black-led solidarity economies. Moderator: Atty. Renee Hatcher, Gary, IN/Baltimore, MD. Panelists: Rukia Lumumba, JD– Cooperation Jackson, CASES; Chigozie Onyema JD– Policy Analyst at Council of State Governments Justice Center; Dorcas Gilmore– Baltimore Activating Solidarity Economies (BASE)

Decarceration, Reintegration, and Unraveling Mass Incarceration

10:30am – 12:30pm

This plenary will provide a context for confronting the aftermath of race-based criminal punishment laws and practices through the voices of  formerly and currently incarcerated individuals and some of their most effective legal champions who are forging pathways to freedom, decarceration, and reintegration for our returning citizens. People of all ages and genders who have been incarcerated are experts on the issue and are helping drive next steps. A thorough understanding of the multiple layers and intergenerational impact of mass incarceration will necessarily include discussion of reintegration obstacles and opportunities for action. Moderators: Atty. Nkechi Taifa, D.C. and Federal Defender MiAngel Cody, Chicago.  Panelists will include clemency recipients, activists, and family members. Panelists: Alton Mills, Kenneth Choice are both Pres. Obama commutees, Eric Wilson, still incarcerated Chicago Police Torture victim; Michelle Parker returning citizen, on women in the criminal system.

Human Rights Movement-Building: NCBL in the Decade

1:00pm — 2:30pm

Escalating the focus on Human Rights Cities, Stakeholders’ Reporting, and People-Centered Human Rights Movement-Building in the International Decade for People of African Descent. This plenary will include case study highlights across key issue areas including criminal punishment, international affairs, and other exemplars related to the recognition, justice and development thematic pillars of the international decade. An action plan will be developed extending the mission and vision of the National Conference of Black Lawyers, to answer the cries of our people for concrete collective work protecting the human rights of African descendants  today. This plenary will be led by Atty. Standish E. Willis – Chicago, and Adofo Minka, Esq. of Jackson, MS a Public Defender. 2015 U.S. Human Rights Network FIHRE Fellow and 2016 Trainer at the historic Highlander Center.

Cultural Genocide-Arts and Media: Tools of Oppression or Empowerment

2:30pm – 4:00pm

This panel provides an analysis of the role that Black artists, writers, media personalities and owners currently play in shaping responses to racial oppression in U.S. society. Dialogue on activism and the agenda-setting role of Black voices as counter-narrative will be explored. Intellectual property, imaging blackness via traditional media, social media and the arts. Panelists to include leading activists, artists, and media professionals from mainstream and black-owned media. Moderator:  Atty. Mark Fancher, Detroit; Kwabena Jijaga Rasuli – Clear The Airwaves Project; Diana Dada Muhammad – Law Student at DePaul U, Artist/Educator- Move Me Soul/MURAL; Hunter Adams – Scholar Activist, Humanicide Theorist; Vickie Casanova Willis  cultural worker, human rights educator/activist.

The Attack on Education: Targeting Black Schools, Teachers, Students, Families

4:15pm – 5:45pm

This panel offers a critical analysis of the landscape facing students, teachers, administrators, families and the community we serve. Panelists explore key case exemplars from labor, to grassroots activism, attorneys, and the growing US Human Rights movement. Moderator: Atty. Danielle McCain, NCBL Chicago Chapter co-Chair. Panelists: Atty. Brandy Robinson, Detroit School Closures.

Conferees will have a break after this panel to reflect, relax, and prepare for the annual Awards Banquet which will be held at Malcolm X College, 1900 W. Jackson Blvd, in walking distance of our conference hotel.

Banquet and Awards Dinner/Dance and Silent Auction

7:00pm — 11:00pm

The NCBL Banquet and Awards Dinner is always a highlight of our conference! This is a special opportunity to build community, reconnect, and celebrate together as we honor the work of NCBL members and non-members alike. The 2016 banquet at Malcolm X College on Chicago’s west side, will feature keynote remarks from MXC distinguished alumnus Human Rights activist/attorney, community organizer and thought leader –NCBL’s longtime Chicago Chapter chair, Attorney Standish E. Willis. Stan “Kwame” will connect our role as the legal arm of the movement for Black liberation with the current International Decade for People of African Descent and its sub-themes of Recognition, Justice, and Development.  Dinner, cultural arts performances, awards, a silent and live auction, music and dancing, all make this an event you do not want to miss. Remember to support the commemorative program journal with your ad or tribute. 

Sunday, October 9th

NCBL Annual Board of Directors’ Business and Membership Meeting

9:30am — 12:00pm

For all NCBL members! Don’t miss this Annual Board and Membership Meeting as we report on the opportunities and accomplishments of the year to date, and escalate our forward momentum with strong progressive energy as part the new leadership team you elected just over 10 months ago. We will reflect on and summarize our conference sessions, resulting goals, and next steps as we launch the NCBL Strategic Planning process for 2017.  Watch for further announcements of our new standing committees, positions, and roles each member will be encouraged to participate in as we embrace an organization-wide strategic planning and implementation process to develop and grow a sustainable, effective NCBL. We will adjourn this Annual meeting and our 2016 Conference better equipped to actualize the concept of this year’s conference theme: Escalating our Fight in The Decade: Bringing Human Rights Home.