The William Monroe Trotter Collaborative for Social Justice at Harvard Kennedy School, the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard Law School, the National Congress of Black Women Inc., and the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs Inc. will host a joint press conference on Wednesday, September 21, 2022, to announce a presidential posthumous pardon petition on behalf of Mrs. Callie House, a formerly enslaved woman who founded the National Ex-Slave Mutual Relief and Pension Association (MRB&PA). The press conference will be held on the very day of the 123rd anniversary of the beginning of the federal proceedings against the foremother of the reparations movement and the first national reparations organization.
By 1900, Mrs. House built a movement of over 300,000 members and accomplished the herculean goal of a reparations bill being introduced in Congress – ironically with the support of Sen. Edmund Pettus. With this growth in influence came increased government surveillance. Three federal agencies – the Bureau of Pensions, the Post Office Department, and the Department of Justice – sought to end this movement. Without any evidence, the Post Office Department accused Mrs. House of mail fraud, making it forbidden for the MRB&PA to send mail or cash money orders. Despite House’s efforts to invoke her constitutional rights, the Post Office Department was determined to invoke the fraud order in order to limit the MRB&PA’s influence. In the midst of her rise, Mrs. House was unjustly convicted of mail fraud by an all-white male jury, effectively killing her movement.
The press conference will take place in the Fainsod Room of Harvard Kennedy School (79 John F. Kennedy Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138) from 1pm to 2pm. Featured speakers include Cornell William Brooks, Hauser Professor of the Practice of Nonprofit Organizations and Director of the William Monroe Trotter Collaborative for Social Justice; Ronald S. Sullivan Jr., Jesse Climenko Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Criminal Justice Institute; Lynn V. Dymally, National Co-President/CEO of the National Congress of Black Women, Inc.; Erika Swaringen-Blankumsee, Senior Advisor to the 30th President of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, Inc.; and students from Prof. Brooks’ social justice clinical “Creating Justice in Real Time.”
This press conference is open to members of the press. Pre-registration is required at https://tinyurl.com/trotterpresscon. For additional information, please contact Staff Director Devon Jerome Crawford at email@example.com.
About the William Monroe Trotter Collaborative for Social Justice
The Trotter Collaborative is a social think and do tank at the Harvard Kennedy School, within the Center for Public Leadership. The Collaborative’s mission is morally ambitious and threefold. First, it supports the teaching and fostering of excellence in social advocacy through interdisciplinary clinical education, across Harvard and beyond. Second, the Collaborative supports Harvard Kennedy School students and those across the university serving client organizations in the nonprofit and government sectors. Lastly, the Trotter Collaborative leverages the analytic capital of Harvard through teaching, convenings, executive sessions, ideation, innovation, transformation, and best practice reform in service of communities and organizations seeking social justice.
Mrs. Callie House
The William Monroe Trotter Collaborative for Social Justice, Harvard Kennedy School
The Criminal Justice Institute, Harvard Law School
National Congress of Black Women, Inc.
National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, Inc.