*Oh what a night! That is what many of the invite-only crowd was heard saying as they exited the beautiful View Park estate where actor and activist, Danny Glover, celebrated his 71st Birth Year. The event was to introduce the launch of the ‘Human Justice Revolution.’
This call-to-action event not only shed light on the need for a change in the criminal justice system; but it served as an introduction to the New York-based organization that have been the foot-soldiers working on its behalf — developing initiatives to support the vision for the past 13 years.
The Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions (CNUS) is the first of its kind in the country. An independent research, training and Human Justice policy think-tank, it was founded and developed by academic professionals with prior experience inside the criminal justice system. Their mission is to shift the paradigm and practice of public safety, justice and accountability from Criminal Justice to Human Justice — and inspire humanity’s well-being.
The Human Justice Revolution launch brought out dozens of local organizations, politicians and civic leaders who came to offer Happy Birthday wishes to the iconic actor and activist; and support CNUS and its cause. Held at the beautiful View Park estate of real estate mogul Charles Quarles and his family, attendees enjoyed incredible food and dynamic performances by hit songwriter/musician Jacob Luttrell and the critically acclaimed Lula Washington Dance Company.
“Danny’s entire life has been a testimony of his commitment to fairness, decency and self awareness,” CNUS co-founder, Divine Pryor, who met Glover in 2010 at an 1199 SEIU meeting attended by a group of national thought leaders convened by Harry Belafonte, states. “He has constantly met each of life’s challenges with courage, bravery and integrity. He is among a small group of celebrities deserving of the ‘Human Justice Legacy Award’ and it is an honor to present it to this global activist and advocate,” he concludes.
Actor Malik Yoba (Empire) was a hoot!
As co-Emcee with UK-born actress Sabra Williams (Actors Gang in Los Angeles), Yoba opened the event with a British accent saying, “We thought we’d switch it up a bit!” referring to Williams.
While CNUS is new to Los Angeles, the organization has been around for quite some time. Electronic Urban Report (EURweb) senior editor, DeBorah B. Pryor spoke with CNUS board member, Charles Thornton, who first became aware of the group of advocates when they were just forming; and only known locally as the Center for NuLeadership Policy Group 15 years ago.
Thorton says he admires that CNUS serve as “…the example for the younger generation to show that you can turn your life around.” As a formerly incarcerated man, Thornton reiterates that it is important for people to realize that everyone should be treated as human beings and “how people are made to feel” is imperative.
“This whole Human Justice Initiative is to address how people feel about themselves; like human beings, not criminals. Re-frame this whole Criminal Justice System to a Human Justice Movement. It changes the narrative,” he concludes.
Former Berkeley, California mayor, Gus Newport, (pictured below with actor/activist Mike Ferrell), traveled from the Bay area to show his support.
Staff from L. A. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office, who has met with Dr. Pryor on several occasions, also showed up to lend their support. Below, Kimberly Baker-Guillemet, Esq. speaks.
DeBorah B. Pryor — sister of Dr. Divine Pryor — approached the gentlemen pictured below saying to Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs (‘The Jacksons: An American Dream’) pictured bottom right, “Man! Where have you been? We haven’t seen you in too long!” He, so graciously laughed, saying “You haven’t been looking hard enough!”
In the video below, contributing Los Angeles Sentinel writer, Hal D. Roberts, narrates his work at the event.
The credo of CNUS: HUMAN RIGHTS + HUMAN DEVELOPMENT = HUMAN JUSTICE
Their THEORY OF CHANGE rests upon philosophical and methodological approaches that attest to the practice of Human Justice as the most effective framework for achieving justice, safety and the well being of communities as it advances Community Empowerment, System Change and Individual Transformation.
Starlett Quarles, president, host and chair at urban X marketing/THE Dialogue/REAP-LA, spoke eloquently in welcoming the guests to her family’s home. Below, she watches as her sister, Dr. Brickell Quarles — a psychologist at a correctional facility on Riker’s Island and a CNUS board member, addresses the audience.
Below the two sisters enjoy engaging with guests!
(Pictured below) Danny Glover and his wife, Dr. Eliane Cavalleiro-Glover, a teacher and native of Brazil, married in 2009 following a long courtship.
“Prisons and prison populations are a reflection of what takes place outside of the prisons. . .The direct relationship constitutes the basis by which we propose that there are no prison problems, only community problems. Once we begin to address community problems, prison problems will also be addressed.” -Edwin “Eddie” Ellis, Founder of the Center for NuLeadership.
FACT: Ellis served 25 years for a murder he did not commit.
This writer recalls being host to Mr. Ellis on one of his trips to Los Angeles. I recall accompanying him to a speaking engagement at a private estate in Brentwood — where an elite crowd of mainly Caucasian business professionals seemed to hang onto his every word. I was sitting next to Arianna Huffington, publisher of the Huffington Post — who whispered to me, “He is fantastic!
Speaking of his mentor and CNUS Founder, Eddie Ellis, Dr. Pryor told EURweb…
“I never thought I would meet him. Eddie was like a legend. The man. The myth. The magic!” Inside? asks EURweb, “Inside!” he confirms. “There was a time we thought he was only a myth.
The two had been released from prison in 1991 (Ellis had gotten out in 1990), and they both ended up on the same panel in 1992. Divine Pryor continues…
“We got connected from that point on and for 22 years we walked together, we fought together, we struggled together. We built this extraordinary organization. First the NuLeadership Policy Group – which was a national group of formerly incarcerated professionals which would culminate into The Center for NuLeadership [on Urban Solutions]; the nations first and only Criminal Justice Research Policy Advocacy and Training Center, run from top to bottom by formerly incarcerated professionals.”
Not surprisingly, Pryor says the thought of such an organization manifested while he was inside. Many men and women in prison envisioned being in a position to speak their own voice.
Known to some as “The Magnificent Three” (pictured below L-R) Dr. Divine Pryor, the late Edwin “Eddie” Ellis, and the iconic Harry Belafonte.
Musician-songwriter-producer Jacob Luttrell, who has worked with acts including De La Soul, Flo Rida, Ziggy Marley, and Cee Lo Greene entertained!
…and he blew us away at showtime!
The audience was treated to a wonderfully passionate performance by dancers from the the critically acclaimed Lula Washington Dance Theatre in L.A.! Watch the video excerpt from one performance below.
No community event with a “Justice” theme would be complete without L.A.’s own community activist, Najee Ali!
…and might we add how happy we are that he’s a cancer SURVIVOR!?
Below, (L-R) Community Organizer, Greg Akili, Eddie Price, Community Development & Workforce Development Officer, GRID Alternatives, San Diego; and CA State Senator Steven Bradford, 35th Senate District lend their support at the event!
PROOF THAT ‘TURNAROUND’ IS POSSIBLE WHEN 2ND CHANCES ARE GIVEN!
Tyrik, the young man pictured below, admits he had never spoken in front of an audience before today. A former gang-banger in and out of jails since his teen years, he credits CNUS, where he volunteers often, for helping him turn his life around.
Tyrik wants to move to Los Angeles and is seeking an internship. Anyone? Contact CNUS!
Community Research and Training Manager at CNUS, Corey Greene (pictured below) also shared his background as a formerly incarcerated person.
Kyung-Ji Kate Rhee (aka KJ), pictured below, is Deputy Director at CNUS. On the mic she gives insight to the attendees on what drives the work of the organization and what they will embark upon moving forward. KJ is nationally recognized for her expertise in campaign strategy development, youth justice advocacy and dynamic training design for system and community stakeholders on culture change, racial disparity and leadership growth.
KJ received her BA from the University of Chicago where she worked with Michelle Obama and Pamela Bozeman to help launch a public service community summer internship program for University of Chicago students.
She has been with CNUS since the beginning of their journey as an organization.
Chino Hardin, the Community Organizing Director at CNUS, was honored to give this award to Danny Glover. We can only imagine how he felt when, later in the evening, Glover presented HIM with a surprise award, too!
People in the social justice industry work endlessly so they really got to do some “catching up” at this event, as seen below with Misters Harris and Rouzan!
As the evening came to a close, KJ presented Danny with a golden birthday cake! Later, Glover was serenaded with a ‘Happy Birthday’ song by R&B singer, B-Slade….before Stevie Wonder‘s iconic version got the audience on their feet!
Actor Carl Lumbly (Justice League, Alias), whose late wife was actress Vonetta McGee, was shocked when DeBorah B. Pryor, a former longtime Bay Area resident, reminded him that she had first met him and Danny Glover in Oakland during their performance of South African playwright, Athol Fugard’s, apartheid-era drama, The Island. That was in 1989!
Only a few years later, Pryor would co-star in Fugard’s play, Boesman and Lena, with actor, Steven Anthony Jones at the same theatre: Oakland Ensemble.
Want to be a part of the Human Justice Revolution movement? If you’d like to volunteer, host a fundraiser or donate, The Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions (CNUS) would love to hear from you. And Danny and Harry would love it, too!
Visit their website at www.nuleadership.org or click here
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
DeBorah B. Pryor is a former theatre actor with a B.A. in Drama. Her communications background includes coaching professionals in public speaking. Her original workshop, “Public Speaking for the Private Person,” has taught at UCLA Extension and numerous nonprofit organizations around southern California. The workshop is also available on CD. As an entrepreneur she has been a LegalShield Associate since 2011. She first began working with the Electronic Urban Report (EURweb) in 2003, and in 2010 became a Senior Editor. This busy lady also drives for Uber and has written a book about it! Expect to hear more about it soon on EURweb and social media. Follow DeBorah @ pryor_deborah or reach out to her via email at [email protected]