Meet the 2019 AFRE Fellows!

The Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity (AFRE) has announced its second cohort of Atlantic Fellows—20 leaders from across South Africa and the United States who are employing a broad spectrum of strategies to end anti-Black racism in the two countries and to build a more equitable world.

As Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity, leaders participate in transnational modules that build community and learning through structured dialogues, site visits and leadership trainings; guided webinar discussions that delve deeper into the topics discussed during the modules and that relate to the Fellows’ work; and partner learning institutes that provide Fellows with foundational content in a more traditionally academic setting. Fellows also receive individualised coaching and advising from professionals skilled in the particular areas of focus for Fellows’ projects or personal development. Fellows receive financial resources through a scholarship of $10,000 and additional project support of up to $10,000.

‘Anti-Black racism continues to undermine the possibilities for a more just, equitable and compassionate world,’ said Kavitha Mediratta,  executive director of the Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity programme. ‘It’s critical that we support the professional and personal development of the leaders driving systemic change and provide a space where they can foster collaborations to make real and lasting impact. Across South Africa and the United States, racial equity leaders are leveraging their scholarship, art and activism to dismantle anti-Black racism, and we are proud to have 20 of the most impactful leaders as part of our programme this year.’

Launched in 2017, AFRE’s yearlong, nonresidential fellowship programme builds knowledge, skills and a sense of community among Fellows working collaboratively to address the causes of racial inequality. Based at Columbia University in New York City and the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg, AFRE is one of seven interconnected Atlantic Fellows programmes which together create a global community to advance fairer, healthier and more inclusive societies. AFRE’s work is also informed by the history of Atlantic Philanthropies’ funding in South Africa and the United States and its deep commitment to advancing equity in these countries. As participants in a programme housed at Columbia and the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Fellows engage with faculty around innovative projects and study lessons from the history of Nelson Mandela’s leadership.

‘South Africa and the United States have been shaped by anti-Black racism and are still defined by racialised exploitation and other forms of violence,’ said Sello Hatang, chief executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation. ‘The transnational exploration of the history and current struggles for racial equity in these two places can inform leaders from both nations, while also inspiring new forms of activism, scholarship and art that speak truth to power.’

‘In a changing world, the most impactful leaders are those who are able to build solidarity that draws traction from and leverages the communities to which they belong,’ said Maxine Griffith, chair of AFRE’s board of directors and senior advisor to Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger. ‘Through leadership development, community-building and narrative-shifting, AFRE supports racial equity leaders in developing knowledge, skills and relationships to work effectively across identities, sectors and ideological perspectives so that more powerful and visionary change can be achieved.’

In January, AFRE graduated its inaugural cohort of Fellows and launched the Senior Fellows programme. The Senior Fellows network furthers the impact of the fellowship experience by creating a sustained community in which Fellows continue to develop their own leadership practices and engage in exchange, learning and experimentation with others.