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The Black Agenda: Bold Solutions for a Broken System — A Conversation with Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman

September 24, 2022

From ongoing reports of police brutality to the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on Black Americans, the year 2020 brought a renewed awareness to the deep-rootedness of racism and white supremacy in every facet of American life. As people have looked both inward and to their communities to understand the impact of systemic oppression, they have turned in droves to books for guidance in working toward a more just and equitable world. This event highlights the work of HKS PhD Student Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman who is the author and editor of The Black Agenda: Bold Solutions For a Broken System (St. Martin’s Press, February 1, 2022), an anthology that features Black voices across economics, education, health, climate, and technology, speaking to the question “What’s next?” as it pertains to centering Black people in policy matters in the US. The conversation will be moderated by Raie Gessesse, HKS MPP ’23, Research Assistant, Institutional Antiracism and Accountability Project.

This event is sponsored by the Women and Public Policy Program and the Institutional Antiracism and Accountability Initiative at the Ash Center. 

About the Speakers 

Headshot of Anna Gifty Opoku-AgyemanAnna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman is an award-winning Ghanaian-American researcher, entrepreneur, and writer. She graduated from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in 2019 with a Bachelors of Arts in Mathematics and a minor in Economics. Her new book, The Black Agenda: Bold Solutions for a Broken System, is the first collection to exclusively feature Black scholars and experts across economics, education, health, climate, criminal justice, and technology. The book has received praise from the likes of New York Times bestselling authors, Wes Moore, Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, and Chelsea Clinton. Currently, she is a graduate student at Harvard Kennedy School studying public policy and economics. In 2018, Anna Gifty co-founded The Sadie Collective, the only non-profit organization addressing the underrepresentation of Black women in economics, finance, and policy. She also co-founded the viral and award-winning digital campaign #BlackBirdersWeek. To date, Anna Gifty remains the youngest recipient for a CEDAW Women’s Rights Award by the United Nations Convention on the Elimination all forms of Discrimination Against Women—previously awarded to Vice President Kamala Harris and Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Her advocacy, research, and commentary lie at the intersection of social justice and quantitative analysis and are featured widely by media outlets such as Bloomberg, NPR, Teen Vogue, Slate, and The New York Times.

Headshot of Raie GessesseRaie Gessesse is a fierce leader with 7+ years experience organizing in her community to build the power of young women, and especially young women of color. At 18 years old, Raie was appointed by former Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton to serve as a Cabinet Member on the nation’s first-ever Young Women’s Cabinet. In her role, she has worked to elevate the voices of hundreds of young women across the state, impacting law and policy at the local, state, and national level. She has helped lead and support campaigns to expand career opportunities for women of color, increase teachers of color across the state, and write and introduce a bill to establish paid internship opportunities for young women in government, business, philanthropy, and non-profit. In 2019, she was awarded the national Truman Scholarship for her commitment to public service and graduated with highest honors and Phi Beta Kappa. Most recently, she served as the inaugural Midwest Program Manager for IGNITE National, one of the country’s largest young women’s political organizations dedicated to training the next generation of political leaders. In her role, she has expanded IGNITE’s presence across the region and accelerated young women’s tools to run for elected office. In 2020, Raie graduated from Hamline University with a Bachelor of Arts in public health and political science, earning highest honors and Phi Beta Kappa. Currently, Raie is pursuing a Master’s in Public Policy degree from the Harvard Kennedy School as a 2021 Paul and Daisy Soros Fellow and 2021 Center for Public Leadership Fellow.

The Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard Kennedy School will be strictly observing all HKS COVID-19 health and safety protocols. HKS buildings including the Forum are closed to the general public and attendance will be limited to the 42-person posted room capacity. Unvaccinated persons should make every effort to practice social distancing. Masks must be worn at all times, except for quick sips of beverages. Food will not be allowed in the venue.

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