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Can Reparations Close the Racial Health Gap?

November 3, 2022 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

In partnership with Harvard Public Health magazine, the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights will host a free, in-person symposium at Harvard University’s Martin Center. Throughout the day, we will be examining the challenging question of how to redress centuries of anti-Black racism – and how to ensure that reparations are designed with the long-term health of Black communities and individuals in mind. Speakers will bring a wide range of expertise in law, policy, public health, history, media, and community organizing.

Located at the Martin Center, at 77 Avenue Louis Pasteur, Boston, MA, 02115, this will be an interactive symposium, so bring your questions and ideas! Breakfast and lunch will be served.

The Martin Center is accessible by public transportation and near several garages, but there is no parking on site. Information on traveling to the center is available here. We are proud to work with several outstanding partners on this event, including Ujamaa Seeds and Sweet Teez Bakery.

Watch the animation created by Taryn Johnson on reparations and health below: 


8am – 9am: Gathering

9am – 9:15am: Welcome by Dr. Aletha Maybank and Dr. Michelle A. Williams

Aletha Maybank

Aletha Maybank, MD, MPH

Aletha Maybank, MD, MPH, currently serves as the chief health equity officer and senior vice president for the American Medical Association (AMA) where she focuses on embedding health equity across all the work of the AMA and leading its Center for Health Equity. She joined the AMA in April 2019 as the association’s inaugural chief health equity officer to launch AMA’s Center for Health Equity.
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Michelle Williams

Michelle A. Williams, SM, ScD

Michelle A. Williams, SM, ScD, is Dean of the Faculty, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Angelopoulos Professor in Public Health and International Development, a joint faculty appointment at the Harvard Chan School and Harvard Kennedy School. She is an internationally renowned epidemiologist and public health scientist, an award-winning educator, and a widely recognized academic leader.
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9:15am – 9:50am: A Conversation with Dr. Mary Bassett and Dr. Sandro Galea

Mary T. Bassett

Mary T. Bassett, MD, MPH

Mary T. Bassett, MD, MPH, was appointed Acting Commissioner of Health on December 1, 2021, and confirmed by the New York State Senate on January 20, 2022. She previously served as Director of the François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University and FXB Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights in the department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
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Sandro Galea

Sandro Galea, MD, MPH, DrPH

Sandro Galea, a physician, epidemiologist, and author, is dean and Robert A. Knox Professor at Boston University School of Public Health. In 2015, he became the youngest public health dean in the country, assuming leadership of Boston University School of Public Health. He has published extensively in the peer-reviewed literature about the social causes of health, mental health, and trauma.
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9:50am – 10am: Guest Artist Introduction

Crystal Z Campbell

Crystal Z Campbell

Crystal Z Campbell (they/them), a 2021 Guggenheim Fellow in Fine Arts, is a multidisciplinary artist, experimental filmmaker, and writer of Black, Filipinx, and Chinese descents. Campbell finds complexity in public secrets—fragments of information known by many but undertold or unspoken. Campbell is a former Harvard Radcliffe Fellow, and current Creative Capital Awardee whose recent works use underloved archival material to consider historical gaps in the narrative of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Campbell’s films and art have been screened and exhibited internationally. Campbell is a Visiting Associate Professor of Art and Media Study at the University at Buffalo who lives and works in New York and Oklahoma.
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10am – 11am: A Toxic Legacy: How the History of Systemic Anti-Black Racism Shapes Health

Rev. Brooks

Cornell William Brooks, JD, MDiv (Panel Moderator)

Rev. Cornell William Brooks is the founding Faculty Director of the Trotter Collaborative, as well as the Hauser Professor of the Practice of Nonprofit Organizations and Professor of the Practice of Public Leadership and Social Justice at the Harvard Kennedy School. He also serves as Visiting Professor of the Practice of Prophetic Religion and Public Leadership at Harvard Divinity School. Brooks is the former president and CEO of the NAACP, a civil rights attorney, fourth-generation ordained minister, writer, orator, writer, and the executive producer of two films.
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William (Sandy) Darity

William A. (“Sandy”) Darity Jr., PhD

William A. (“Sandy”) Darity Jr. is the Samuel DuBois Cook Professor of Public Policy, African and African American Studies, and Economics and the director of the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University. Darity’s research focuses on inequality by race, class and ethnicity, schooling and the racial achievement gap, North-South theories of trade and development, skin shade and labor market outcomes, the economics of reparations, the Atlantic slave trade and the Industrial Revolution, the history of economics, and the social psychological effects of exposure to unemployment.
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Dania V. Francis

Dania V. Francis, MA, PhD

Dr. Dania VFrancis is Assistant Professor of Economics at University of Massachusetts Boston. Her research interests include examining racial and socioeconomic disparities in education, wealth accumulation, and labor markets. She is the co-author of an influential paper titled “The Economics of Reparations” in the American Economic Review.
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Jemadari Kamara

Jemadari Kamara, PhD

Dr. Jemadari Kamara has been the elected chairman of the Africana Studies Department at the University of Massachusetts Boston (UMB   2021-present, 2011, 2007-2008, 1996-2001). He is also the founding director of the Center for African, Caribbean and Community Development at UMB. Dr. Kamara served as dean of the College of Public and Community Service (1988-1993). He is also a two time Fulbright Scholar having served at the Université Nationale du Benin (UNB 1985-1987) and the Université  Gaston Berger in St. Louis, Senegal (2001-2002). He has taught at several other universities including the University of Michigan, Brandeis and Dillard Universities.
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Ruqaiijah Yearby, JD, MPH

Ruqaiijah Yearby, JD, MPH, is the inaugural Kara J. Trott Professor in Law at the Moritz College of Law and a faculty affiliate of the Kirwan Institute at The Ohio State University. She is also co-founder and a faculty affiliate of the Institute for Healing Justice & Equity. Recently, Professor Yearby received over $5 million in grant funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to study structural racism and discrimination in vaccine allocation and the equitable enforcement of housing laws and structural racism in the health care system.
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11am – 11:15am: Break

11:15am – 12:30pm: Municipal, State and Federal Reparations Programs: Where is Health?

Alecia McGregor

Alecia McGregor, PhD (Panel Moderator)

Alecia J. McGregor, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Politics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Her work focuses on the structural and political determinants of health, including the role of racism in health policy development and health care outcomes. She has published and lectured internationally on the plight of marginalized communities vis-à-vis access to health care.  Her current research explores the health-system determinants of maternal health disparities in the U.S.
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Councilor Julia Mejia

Councilor Julia Mejia

Councilor Mejia is currently the Chair of the Committee on Education, the Chair of the Committee on Government Accountability, Transparency, and Accessibility as well as the Chair of the Committee on Labor, Workforce, and Economic Development. Born in the Dominican Republic, City Councilor At-Large, Julia Mejia arrived in the neighborhood of Dorchester when she was 5 years old. Raised by a single mother who was undocumented for most of her childhood, she was forced at an early age to speak up on behalf of her mother and others who felt ignored by the very institutions that were supposed to serve them.
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Yvette Modestin

Yvette Modestin, MA

Born and raised in Colon, Panama, Ms. Modestin was named one of “30 Afro Latinas you should know.” She is Founder/Executive Director of Encuentro Diaspora Afro in Boston, MA. Ms. Modestin has been profiled by the Boston Globe as “The Uniter” for her work in bringing the Latin American and African American community together and for her activism in building a voice for the Afro Latino Community. She was named an “Influeyentes” in Panama for her advocacy in bringing attention to the struggle of the black communities in Panama with a focus on her home province of Colon.
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Robin Rue Simmons

Robin Rue Simmons

Robin Rue Simmons is the Founder and Executive Director of FirstRepair, a not-for-profit organization that informs local reparations, nationally. She is the former 5th Ward Alderman for the City of Evanston, where she led, the passage of the nation’s first municipal funded reparations legislation. She laid the foundation for her life’s work in 1998 when she became a real estate broker. Troubled by wealth disparities and concentrated poverty she witnessed locally, she wanted to help families build wealth through homeownership. Rue Simmons has received numerous awards and has been featured in national and international publications for her public service work.
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Saskia VannJames

Saskia VannJames

Saskia VannJames is a Black queer woman whose advocacy encompasses working as racial and health equity advocate, cultural worker, and board member at Massachusetts Recreational Consumer Council. Saskia’s work includes successfully advocating for municipal based reparatory justice policies within Cambridge including a reparations fund from Transatlantic Slave Trade, a restitution fund to address racial inequities from War on Drugs, and a Racial Justice and Equity commission.

12:30pm – 1:15pm: Lunch

1:15pm – 2:15pm: Media and Public Discourse on Anti-Black Racism and Reparations

Meredith D. Clark, Ph.D.

Meredith D. Clark, PhD

Meredith D. Clark, Ph.D. is an associate professor in Journalism and Department of Communication Studies at Northeastern University. Her research focuses on the intersections of race, media, and power. Her first book, “We Tried to Tell Y’all: Black Twitter and Digital Counternarratives” is forthcoming from Oxford University Press. Her research has also been published in Communication & the PublicCommunication, Culture & Critique, Electronic NewsJournalism & Mass Communication EducatorJournal of Social Media in SocietyNew Media & Society, and Social Movement Studies.
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Deborah Douglas

Deborah D. Douglas

Deborah D. Douglas is co-editor in chief of The Emancipator. She previously served as the Eugene S. Pulliam Distinguished Visiting Professor at DePauw University, senior leader with The OpEd Project, amplifying underrepresented expert voices, and founding managing editor of MLK50: Justice Through Journalism. While teaching at Northwestern University, she spearheaded a graduate investigative journalism capstone on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and taught best practices in Karachi, Pakistan. Douglas’ adventures in thought leadership were seeded at the Chicago Sun-Times where she served as Deputy Editorial Page Editor/Columnist.
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Michael Fitzgerald

Michael Fitzgerald (Panel Moderator)

Michael Fitzgerald is editor-in-chief of Harvard Public Health, charged with developing the magazine into a multimedia platform that changes the way we think of public health. He previously was articles editor at the Globe Magazine, the Boston Globe’s award-winning Sunday periodical. He was a reporter and editor at Computerworld, founding news editor at ZDNet, executive editor at Red Herring magazine, a managing editor at TechTV, and spent 14 years freelancing for dozens of publications and web sites, including Discover, The Economist, Fast Company, MIT Technology Review, The New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal.
Dreisen Heath

Dreisen Heath

Dreisen Heath is a researcher and advocate in Human Rights Watch’s United States Program focusing on racial justice issues. She is a Tulsa-born reparations activist, compassionate collaborator, conscious facilitator, relentless organizer, and nimble strategist, with an expertise in reparatory justice. Through movement and coalition building, Heath seeks to mobilize and support individuals impacted by systemic racism to enact transformative and structural change.
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2:15pm – 2:45pm: Health Justice Scholarship is Personal

Dr. Brittney Butler Francis

Brittney Butler, PhD, MPH

Dr. Brittney N. Butler is a social epidemiologist whose primary research seeks document and combat anti-Black racism as a fundamental cause of racial disparities in maternal morbidity and mortality for Black women. Dr. Butler holds a dual academic appointment as an FXB Health and Human Rights Fellow and David E. Bell Postdoctoral Fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

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Dr. Marie Plaisime

Marie Plaisime, PhD, MPH

Dr. Marie Plaisime is an FXB Health and Human Rights Fellow and National Science Foundation (NSF) post-doctoral fellow. Her research investigates racial bias training in medical education and clinical practice, race-based medicine, algorithmic bias, and health policy.

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2:45pm – 3pm: Interactive Dreamscaping Activity led by Radical Roadmaps

Laura Chow Reeve

Laura Chow Reeve

Laura Chow Reeve is writer, illustrator based in Richmond, VA. She is currently writing a novel, studying transformative justice practices, dreaming about abolitionist futures, and supporting movement organizations through graphic recording.
Learn More About Radical Roadmaps

Graphic recording of the symposium "Can reparations close the racial health gap?" created by Laura Chow Reeve.

Graphic recording of the symposium, created by Laura Chow Reeve.

3pm – 3:15pm: Break

3:15pm – 4:15pm: Can Reparations Close the Racial Health Gap?

Madina Agénor

Madina Agénor, ScD, MPH (Panel Moderator)

Dr. Madina Agénor, ScD, MPH is Assistant Professor in the Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Center for Health Promotion and Health Equity at Brown University School of Public Health. She is also Adjunct Faculty at The Fenway Institute and leads the Sexual Health and Reproductive Experiences (SHARE) Lab at Brown University.
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Rachel Hardeman

Rachel Hardeman, PhD, MPH

Dr. Rachel R. Hardeman is a reproductive health equity researcher whose program of research applies the tools of population health science and health services research to elucidate a critical and complex determinant of health inequity—racism.
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Jourdyn Lawrence

Jourdyn Lawrence, PhD

Jourdyn A. Lawrence, PhD, MSPH, is an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. Lawrence joined the Dornsife School of Public Health as part of the Drexel FIRST (Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation) program. Lawrence is a social epidemiologist whose research goals include addressing racism as a cause of racial health inequities and identifying interventions to mitigate these impacts.
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Collette N. Ncube, DrPH, MPH, MS

Collette N. Ncube, DrPH, MPH, MS

Collette N. Ncube, DrPH, MPH, MS is an assistant professor in the department of Epidemiology at the Boston University School of Public Health. She is a social epidemiologist with a research program focused on understanding and addressing racial/ethnic disparities in maternal and infant health. Specifically, Dr. Ncube’s work investigates the role of the larger social context in producing and perpetuating these disparities over the life course and from one generation to the next.
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4:15pm – 4:45pm: Closing Keynote

Kamilah Moore

Kamilah Moore, JD, LLM

Kamilah Moore is a reparatory justice scholar and an attorney with a specialization in entertainment and intellectual property law. As a law student, Moore contributed to human rights reports related to domestic and international human rights issues, including, but not limited to racial inequality in Brazil, the human right to sanitation in Lowndes County, Alabama, USA; and the human right to remedy for indigenous Black women affected by racialized gender violence in Papua New Guinea.
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4:45pm: Closing Comments

Natalia Linos, MSc, ScD

Natalia Linos, MSc, ScD

Dr. Natalia Linos is a social epidemiologist and the Executive Director of the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard. She has over 15 years of experience working at the global and local levels on some of the most pressing public health challenges of our time: from climate change to systemic racism.

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Support for the symposium was provided by funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and The JPB Foundation. The views expressed during the program were those of the speakers and did not necessarily reflect the views of the funders or organizers.

Please direct any questions about this event to Claire Street at cstreet@hsph.harvard.edu.


November 3, 2022
8:00 am - 5:00 pm


Joseph B. Martin Conference Center
77 Avenue Louis Pasteur
Boston, MA 02115
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FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University
Harvard Public Health Magazine