Today, Rev. Devon Jerome Crawford announced he will step down as Staff Director of the William Monroe Trotter Collaborative for Social Justice within the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School. Rev. Crawford will depart from the role in the spring of 2023 after nearly four years of leading the organization. During his tenure, the Trotter Collaborative supported several statewide and national campaigns led by social justice organizations that have advanced voting rights, transformed criminal legal systems, and spearheaded reparations research and advocacy for Black Americans.
Named for William Monroe Trotter, the first Black Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Harvard and pioneering civil rights leader, the Trotter Collaborative was founded by Prof. Cornell William Brooks, Hauser Professor of the Practice of Nonprofit Organizations and Professor of the Practice of Public Leadership and Social Justice at Harvard Kennedy School.
“Leading the Trotter Collaborative for nearly four years with Prof. Brooks has been the privilege of a lifetime,” said Rev. Crawford. “The Trotter Collaborative is a community of scholarship and impact, and I am proud of our accomplishments. But I am most proud of the role we played in preparing students to lead during this tumultuous time in our country. I’ve valued this distinctive opportunity to bring together multidisciplinary teams of scholar-activists, frontline nonprofits, engaged research, a committed advisory board, moral policymakers, generous funders, grassroots leaders, and more to create multivalent strategies for communities fighting for justice in this critical time. That work continues with moral urgency.”
In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, the Trotter Collaborative partnered with eight cities across the United States and the United Kingdom to transform public safety policies and practices. The Trotter Collaborative also strategized with two governors to produce race equitable responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Devon strategically led our efforts in securing an impressively diverse cohort of client organizations, governors, and mayors for Creating Justice in Real Time, a pioneering social justice clinical at Harvard Kennedy School,” said Prof. Brooks. The two met while being detained in the back of a police van at a rally protesting police brutality. “He has led the Trotter Collaborative in creating innovative convenings that share the analytic capital of Harvard with thousands of frontline activists and advocates across the nation. He stands in the intellectual lineage and moral legacy of William Monroe Trotter.”
The Trotter Collaborative hosted several innovative, action-oriented convenings during the COVID-19 pandemic under Rev. Crawford’s leadership: Reimagining Our Radical Roots: A Global Classroom of Citizen Activism in 2022; Achieving our Country: An Academy of Citizen Activism in 2021; the Good Trouble Lab in 2020; and the Social Justice Hackathon in 2019. Crawford also led a team of students who created a syllabus and reading list that accompanied the CNN docuseries, The People v. The Klan.
In the past four years, Rev. Crawford helped to expand the Trotter Collaborative’s client roster to include nonprofit organizations such as the National Council of Churches, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Black Voters Matter, the Andrew Goodman Foundation, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, the Harvard Law School Criminal Justice Institute, and the National Congress of Black Women.
“After my two years with the Trotter Collaborative, it’s hard to imagine it without Devon. He has been instrumental in working with Prof. Brooks to mold Trotter into the organization that it is today. The amount of work and genuine passion he brought to the team cannot be overstated,” said Mahalia Mathelier ‘21, former Administrative Fellow for the Trotter Collaborative. “Devon has really been a role model in advocacy, and someone I’ve been fortunate to look up to. It was truly a pleasure and an honor to work alongside Devon and learn from him, and I can’t wait to see what good trouble lies in his future.”
Rev. Crawford is a graduate of Morehouse College and the University of Chicago Divinity School. He began his career as the inaugural Humanity in Action Fellow for the NAACP, where he connected the polls to pop culture by leading a countrywide millennial voter campaign that partnered with Chance the Rapper’s Magnificent Coloring world tour. He has also held named fellowships with the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference and the Andrew Young Center for Global Leadership at Morehouse College. After the NAACP-Humanity in Action Fellowship, Devon co-founded the People’s Consortium for Civil and Human Rights, Inc.