“I was extremely fortunate to have been born to a mother and grandmother who are committed justice activists. My mom and my grandma were active in a number of movements during the 1960s including peace efforts, civil rights, quality education and trade unions. I was introduced to great books and speakers, ideas and actions that helped to shape who I am today. It is a constant reminder of the importance of relationships in movement building. Most of us join this work as the result of the personal invitation by someone we love and/or trust.”
Makani Themba is executive director of The Praxis Project, a nonprofit organization helping communities use media and policy advocacy to advance health justice. Under her leadership, The Praxis Project has raised more than $20 million for advocacy organizations working in communities of color nationwide. Makani was previously director of the Transnational Racial Justice Initiative (TRJI), an international project to build capacity among advocates to more effectively address structural racism and leverage tools and best practices from around the world. While at TRJI, she co-authored and edited a “shadow report” on institutional racism and white privilege – the first of its kind.
Prior to that, she directed the Grass Roots Innovative Policy Program (GRIPP) a national project to build capacity among local organizing groups to more effectively engage in media and policy advocacy to address institutional racism in welfare and public education. She was a staffer for the California State Legislature, served as media director for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference/Los Angeles, and worked five years for the Marin Institute for the Prevention of Alcohol and Other Drug Problems, including three years as director of its Center for Media and Policy Analysis.
Makani has published numerous articles and case studies on race, class, media, policy advocacy and public health. She is author of Making Policy, Making Change, and co-author of Media Advocacy and Public Health: Power for Prevention, a contributor to the volumes Community Based Participatory Research for Health, Prevention is Primary: Strategies for Community well Being, We the Media along with many other edited book projects. Her publications have helped set the standard for policy advocacy work and contributed significantly to the field’s current emphasis on media and policy advocacy to address health problems. She has also co-authored with Hunter Cutting is Talking the Walk: Communications Guide for Racial Justice. Her latest book, a collaboration under The Praxis Project with contributions from Malkia Cyril and others, is Fair Game: A Strategy Guide for Racial Justice Communications in the Obama Era.