Meet the Essential Stories Community

Featured Guests

Essential Stories is an independent, grassroots docu-series that gives a voice to people on the frontlines of our world’s most pressing social issues.

dorsey nunn
Panelist
Dorsey is a leading expert with over 40 years of professional experience in criminal justice reform. He is the first formerly incarcerated director of a public interest law office in California. Dorsey was sentenced to life in the California Department of Corrections when he was 19 years old. He paroled in 1981 and discharged from parole in 1984.  Under his leadership LSPC has made significant advances including the development of the Elder Freeman Policy Fellowship, legal victories including the Ashker lawsuit that ended long term solitary confinement in California, and policy victories including numerous Ban the Box laws passed at the local, state, and federal levels, the end of shackling of pregnant women, and the biggest drug sentencing reform passed by the CA legislature in recent history (SB 180).
Prior to becoming Executive Director, he worked as a paralegal, community organizer, and program manager at LSPC and as a paralegal at the Prison Law Office. Dorsey’s leadership has helped to establish several local and national institutions and movement building projects including All of Us or None, Free at Last, Critical Resistance, California Coalition for Women Prisoners, and the Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted People and Families Movement. His commitment to anti-racist organizing is international. He has visited numerous international prisons including prisons in El Salvador, New Zealand, and South Africa. He has also served on delegations to international conferences including The International Conference on Prison Abolition in Canada and The International Conference on Youth in Cuba.
Dorsey has received federal and local recognition including the White House Champion of Change Award signed by President Obama, Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition by Nancy Pelosi, the Senate Certificate of Recognition by Senator Jackie Speier and Karen Bass, Certificate of Appreciation from the California State Assembly, Certificate of Recognition from the California State Senate, and recognition from the SF Board of Supervisors and Mayor Gavin Newsom. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the Chief Justice Earl Warren Civil Liberties Award from the ACLU of Northern California, the Movement Builders Award from A New Way of Life, and the Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez, Rosa Parks Visiting Professorship from the University of Michigan.  Dorsey has been instrumental to changing the national narrative around formerly incarcerated people and centering people with conviction histories as experts in the field of criminal justice reform. His work has been featured in local and national publications including the LA Times, the SF Chronicle, Sacramento Bee, NY Times, Washington Post, and the Nation. Michelle Alexander wrote about Dorsey and his work with all of Us or None in her best-selling book, The New Jim Crow. He is a frequently requested speaker at conferences, universities, and in documentaries including Ava DuVernay’s 13th. Since Dorsey was released from prison he has focused on reunifying, restoring, and healing his family. He is a loving father and grandfather who is inspired by his grandchildren and great grandchildren to keeping working to create a better future for all youth.
Formerly incarcerated activist fights to give people a chance to change. L.A. Times, March 13, 2015.
Ex-inmates behind push for California employers to ‘ban the box’. The Mercury News, October 13, 2017.
Ban the Box Keeps Families and Communities Together. New York Times, April 13, 2016.
Millions of ex-cons still can’t get jobs. Here’s how the White House could help fix that. Washington Post, January 22, 2015.
VIDEO:
Free America – Dorsey. August 30, 2016.
Tim Wise & Dorsey Nunn presented by SURJ Bay Area, April 18, 2017.
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Panelist

Aeiramique Glass Blake known to most as Meeka is 32 years old, Justice Candidate for the 51st Congressional District, a devoted christian and has a 10 year background in mental health and has been working in the juvenile justice field for nearly 12 years. She is a full time restorative justice consultant and founder and Executive Director of a youth led activism, organizing and advocacy non-profit organizations, “Generation Justice”. Generation Justice focuses on Juvenile Justice and school culture discipline reform. Meeka serves on multiple advisory boards representing communities of color, such as San Diego chief of police board of advisors, the City Attorneys advisory board, Restorative Justice Steering board and the Peace Promotion Momentum Team, working to keep these individuals and systems transparent and accountable. Aeiramique has a true heart and love for people and concentrates on addressing the intersectionality of social justice Issues.

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Emile YX
Panelist
Emile YX? is often considered to be one of the Pioneers or Godfathers of South African Hip Hop and is a founder member of the legendary South African Hip Hop Group, Black Noise. He is best known for developmental work and community outreach projects like the Heal the Hood Project 

(www.healthehood.org.za) and hosting events like African Hip Hop Indaba, Battle of the Year, Shut Up Just Dance, African Battle Cry, Cape Flats 
Uprising, Surf Day, Up The Rock and Freestyle Session. Emile YX? is also known for his work on eTVs reality TV series called “Step Up or Step Out”, but he has helped to raised money for and sent 203 young people to travel to and perform at international events globally. He has recorded and released 12 albums with Black Noise, 8 solo Emile YX? Albums, 1 Afrikaaps soundtrack, 9 compilation albums, 7 Heal the Hood compilation albums and helped 6 local artists release their solo albums. Emile started South Africa’s first Hip Hop magazine “Da Juice” and wrote 3 books. He also helped graffiti artists Falko and Mak1 to release their own magazines and 2 compilations of Rhymes, Articles, Poetry, Short Stories and Sketches R.A.P.S.S. He also created 4 plays. Emile has thus far helped to raise money and send 189 youth artists to international events, toured and taught Hip Hop and anti-racism in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Ireland, Belgium, Holland, England, Italy, USA, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Australia, India, Brazil and Korea. Read Emile YX biography here
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Marisol Ibanez-Tintorer
Panelist

​​Marisol Ibanez-Tintorer is a Cuban-American with over 10 years of experience working with AIM for the heArt who is currently serving as AIM 4 the HEART’s Director of Programming. She is a HEART Education facilitator, curriculum trainer, and the developer of AIM 4 the HEART’s train-the-trainer model. She is one of the co-founders of the Long Beach heArt Sessions and co-author to the-upcoming book, HEART Education. Marisol holds a Bachelor’s Degree in American Studies from UCSC and a Master’s Degree from the University of La Verne in Educational Counseling and has over 20 years teaching experience working directly with high-risk youth in California public schools. She has extensive experience in curriculum development. A full-time teacher and Activities Specialist at Polytechnic High School’s PAAL Campus, Marisol has authored and designed the framework for the Ethnic Studies, Restorative Justice and Social Justice courses. She advocates passionately for the expansion of social and emotional education, implementation of restorative practices and the development of Trauma Informed Campuses in K-12 education and serves as a consultant for Buena Park School District. Recently, she has begun to train teachers in the implementation of Restorative Practices and serves as a Restorative Justice Coordinator and facilitator for the California Conference of Equality and Justice’s Building Bridges Camp. With over 20 years of activism and organizing experience working with Indigenous Rights, Latino, Social Justice and youth organizations. She is an active poet, painter, silversmith, and multi-media artist.

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Panelist

Nii Armah Sowah is a Ghanaian born arts educator. He earned his first degree in Theatre Arts, with a focus on dance, at the University of Ghana in 1987. After graduating from the Africa Center for the Training of Performing Artists in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe in 1991, he obtained a Master of Arts in Expressive Arts Therapies at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1997. Over the years, Nii Armah has worked professionally as a dancer, choreographer, singer, percussionist, actor (television, film, and stage), public speaker, massage therapist, and expressive arts therapist. He was the principal dance instructor and choreographer at the School of Performing Arts, University of Ghana, between 1987 and 1994. During this time, he toured extensively across Africa, Europe, Canada, and the U.S. Nii Armah has conducted residencies and master classes at several institutions including – the National Theatre of Ghana, University of California at Irvine, Bagamoyo College of Arts, Tanzania, University of Cape Town, South Africa, National Theatre of Kenya, Ethiopian National Theatre, and New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, MA. Nii Armah is currently a full-time faculty at the University of Colorado, where he teaches African Dance, Introduction to Dance and Culture, Dance & Community Engagement and African Singing. He is also the Director of the 1000 Voices Project, an arts organization that uses African songs, rhythm games, dance, and storytelling to foster human development, community/team building and cross-cultural understanding. His research interests include African centered dance pedagogy, cross-cultural education, intra-African arts exchanges, and dance for personal and community development. Nii Armah has garnered several awards over the years, including – the “Excellence in Teaching Award (2008),” the “Campus Global Citizen of the Year (2010),” the “Equity and Excellence Award (2013),” the “Marinus Smith Award for Excellence (2013),” and “Sustainability Award - Civic Engagement (2014),” all at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Nii Armah was also named the winner of Boulder County’s Multicultural Award for the Arts (2012) and a “Living Legend of Dance in Colorado (2016).”

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Doe Renée
Spoken Word Artist

Meral Sarper Aka Doe Renée is a community focused engineer, consultant and teacher. She also loves expressing through spoken word poetry, song and dance. Today she’ll share “Untold History” - a work about we can acknowledge the darkness and choose to rise above

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Panelist

Omkari Williams is Host of the podcast, Stepping Into Truth: Conversations on Race, Gender, and Social Justice, and a Certified Coach who works with ordinary people who see wrong in the world and want to make it right, those whom she calls “Everyday Activists”. Drawing on her background as an actor and political consultant she helps people leverage the power of story and sustained action to create the change they wish to see.

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Ravina Wadhwani
Panelist and Spoken Word Artist

Ravina Wadhwani is a Mental Health Therapist, Advocate, Educator and Poet based in Los Angeles, CA. Ravina's life work is devoted to promoting holistic and decolonized mental health & well-being as a form of social justice and intergenerational healing. In her time outside of mental health work, Ravina writes and performs poetry around the greater Los Angeles area, which she sees as a necessary tool for healing and social change. Ravina is the Founder of @DecolonizingOurHealing - a consulting and social media platform to promote inclusive healing & intersectional discussion around mental health issues for people of color and marginalized folks.

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Miles Ananda
Panelist and Spoken Word Artist
LA born and based creative Miles Ananda is a visionary that wears many hats. Originally a conscious rapper with a passion for mental and spiritual health, he has since expanded his creative horizons, including producing, writing, scoring, directing, and more. He knows no limits and uses his AAPOTSS agency as the umbrella to lead by example as an advocate for personal development and authentic expression of all sorts. He has most recently embraced his voice and influence to include activism. Organizing and facilitating dialogues of multiracial and multigenerational speakers to spread awareness and activate audiences.
Instagram: @miles199x
Youtube: Miles Ananda
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Toya Pyt Fernandez
Panelist

Educator, Activist, and Community Leader, LaToya Fernandez, dedicates her career to teaching students equity and justice. As a Restorative Justice Coordinator, LaToya has served in local San Jose schools supporting students, educators and families through cultural responsiveness, restorative practices and community engagement. LaToya continues to serve the community in various roles : as the Dean Of Students at Downtown College Prep El Camino, District 3 Neighborhoods Commissioner and is a member for the Tech Museum's Educator Advisory Board and as Chair for the Youth Outreach Committee for Women's March- San Jose. Alongside these roles, Latoya continues to be a community advocate who is passionate about creating platforms for youth. Just one of these platforms is Youthhype, a community based organization that empowers youth in San Jose from marginalized communities to rise up. As its Founder, she facilitates workshops in self esteem, confidence, awareness and identity. Youthhype also actively participates in numerous community events, while pairing empowerment with activism, agency and leadership.

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Each panel we bring together 6 Activists to discuss topics related to the #BlackLivesMatter protest, today’s political landscape, police brutality, the upcoming presidential election, the 2 party system, the radicalization of white conservatives, alt right rhetoric, white liberal rhetoric, cult psychology, toxic masculinity, and the class war.

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