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Our plenary speakers in Los Angeles are an outstanding group of pioneers in their field and chroniclers of today’s most vital issues. Each will inform your efforts to expand opportunities to all communities and inspire you to strengthen your own connections across the world through shared knowledge and understanding.

Opening Plenary

Isabel Wilkerson

Tuesday, May 30: 4:00 p.m.-5:30 p.m.

Isabel Wilkerson is an award-winning journalist and a New York Times best-selling author who continues to chronicle the impact of immigration on both America’s history and future.

Wilkerson spent 15 years writing The Warmth of Other Suns. The book explores “The Great Migration” of over six million African-Americans who moved from the southern United States during the 20th century in search of a better life. The Warmth of Other Suns received numerous awards including the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction.

As a journalist, Wilkerson served as Chicago Bureau Chief of the New York Times in 1994. She is the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize and the first African-American to win for individual reporting in the history of American journalism. President Barack Obama awarded her the 2015 National Humanities Medal and she is the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship.

Wilkerson has lectured on narrative nonfiction at the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University and has taught as a Professor of Journalism at Princeton, Emory, Northwestern, and Boston University. Wilkerson also frequently writes op-ed pieces for the New York Times on issues of social injustice and racial equality. She holds a BA in education from Howard University.

Sponsored by:

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Wednesday, May 31: 4:00 p.m.-5:30 p.m.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer and a six-time NBA champion. He is also one of a handful of influential and respected black men in America who has a national platform as a regular contributing columnist for the Washington Post and Time Magazine, where he shares his thoughts on some of the most socially relevant and politically controversial topics facing our nation today. After 50 years as an athlete, activist, and New York Times best-selling author, he offers his perspectives as a nationally recognized speaker. His book, Writings on the Wall: Searching for a New Equality Beyond Black and White offers his personal perspectives on political issues facing America today. In 2015, his Emmy Award-winning documentary, Kareem: Minority of One, debuted as HBO’s most watched and highest rated sports documentary of all time.

Currently Abdul-Jabbar serves as the chairman of his Skyhook Foundation whose mission is to “Give Kids a Shot That Can’t be Blocked”, by bringing educational STEM opportunities to under-served communities through innovative outdoor environmental learning. In 2012, Abdul-Jabbar was appointed to be the only U.S. Cultural Ambassador by then Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. His next book is a memoir entitled Coach Wooden and Me: Our 50-Year Friendship On and Off the Court. In 2016, President Barack Obama awarded Abdul-Jabbar with the nation’s highest civilian honor, The Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Sponsored by:

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will participate in a book signing immediately following the plenary address.