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Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity Announces 2020 Cohort

Resource type: News

Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity | [ View Original Source (opens in new window) ]

Selected from across the United States and South Africa, the new Fellows join a transnational network of leaders working across issues and geography to end anti-Black racism and white supremacy.

NEW YORK, NY — In the wake of unfolding health and economic crises across the globe, and rising protests against the systemic failure to see, value and protect Black lives, the Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity (AFRE) selected 20 leading changemakers to join its fellowship programme aimed at strengthening and accelerating social change in the United States and South Africa.

This action continues AFRE’s work, since 2017, to capacitate the racial equity field through leadership development, network building, innovation, and narrative change. Today, that effort is emboldened by the addition of these 20 dynamic leaders whose work at the frontlines of social change in South Africa and the United States brings vital talent and vision to advance racial equity.

See the full list of Fellows here.

“The COVID-19 pandemic lays bare the unconscionable injustices against Black people and other communities of colour, from racial inequality to violence and exclusion,” said Kavitha Mediratta, Ph.D., executive director of the Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity. “At a time of such extraordinary challenge, these courageous leaders are showing us new possibilities for how to eliminate anti-Black racism in the service of equity and justice. We’re proud to support them to build the strategies and solutions our countries need.”

Based at Columbia University in New York City and the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg, South Africa, the fellowship provides leaders in the field with a space to reflect and engage with new thinking, a transnational community, leadership coaching, and up to $20,000 in resources to support them and their efforts as they build innovative projects to address the root causes of racial inequality.

“Black people and people of colour continue to be targets for state-sanctioned violence, discrimination and disenfranchisement,” said Damon Hewitt, co-chair of AFRE’s board of directors and executive vice president at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “In building this powerful network of leaders working across identities, sectors and ideological perspectives, AFRE is engaging in the long-term, strategic work necessary for harnessing and mobilizing people power to enact real change.”

“As we witness and fight against COVID-19’s devastating effects on South Africa’s people, land and economy, it’s clear that we need leaders who are able to conceptualize, build and advocate for solutions that address and uproot systemic anti-Black racism,” said Sello Hatang, chief executive at the Nelson Mandela Foundation. “By supporting this new cohort of leaders, and growing its network of accomplished Atlantic Fellows, AFRE is strengthening the pipeline of advocates ready to engage in the fight for justice for decades to come.”


Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity is a nonresidential yearlong program that will support more than 250 Fellows from South Africa and the United States over its 10year lifespan. The programme, which is based at Columbia University and the Nelson Mandela Foundation, brings together organisers, artists, advocates and other change agents working to build a more just and equitable world by confronting and dismantling anti-Black racism. The program gives these leaders the time, space and connection to others in the field to encourage brainstorming and to inspire forward-looking planning and new ideas to deepen their work, better positioning them to drive powerful and transformative change.