Meet The Panelists at ‘Standing Your Ground’ Town Hall at this Year’s Black Women’s Expo

The Chicago Defender joins this year’s Black Women’s Expo line-up to present a special town hall discussion on Saturday, April 8, at McCormick Place.

AB7-News Reporter, Evelyn Holmes

The town hall meeting, “Standing Your Ground”, a discussion on social and criminal-justice reform, will be held in Room 228 from noon to 2  p.m. and moderated by ABC-7 News reporter Evelyn Holmes. The audience moderator will be Defender’s Senior Staff Writer Mary L. Datcher, who will field questions from the audience.

With troubling statistics surrounding Black communities around Chicago, residents are concerned about the ongoing violence that plagues our neighborhoods. To understand the effects of these various problems, we will examine the root of the systemic issues that have built up over the last few decades.

 From the growing history of police misconduct and abuse, lack of community trust in law enforcement, to the heightened crisis of violence that has pushed law-abiding citizens to fear criminals, to law officers who act as criminals, how do we take back control of our community in a productive manner that engages, empowers and educates?

Featured Panelists:


State Sen. Kwame Raoul (Ill.-13th)

A Chicago native, born to Haitian-born immigrants, Sen. Raoul was appointed to fill the vacancy left in the 13th Legislative District by former State Sen. Barack Obama’s election to the U.S. Senate in November 2004.

An advocate for criminal-justice reform, he serves as vice-chairperson for the Criminal Law Committee.

Dorothy Tillman

Dorothy Tillman served as the 3rd Ward Alderman for 27 years until she was succeeded by Pat Dowell in 2007. Born in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1947, she joined the Southern Christian Leadership Conference as a field trainee and field staff organizer. She fought for better housing and  quality education, helping Dr. Martin Luther King’s brief move to Chicago.  Later, her advocacy for fair school reform led her to helping o elect Chicago’s first Black mayor, Harold Washington. She was appointed by Washington and later elected as the first woman to represent the 3rd ward on the Chicago City Council in 1985.

Every Saturday morning, Tillman can be heard on her weekly radio program, “Coffee, Tea and a Conversation,” on WVON 1690 AM Talk of Chicago.

Natalie Howse

President, Cook County Bar Association

A graduate of Loyola University where she earned her B.A. in History, she earned her J.D. from Howard University.. Howse is currently one of the youngest presidents in the 102-year history of the oldest African-American bar association in the country. She serves as an assistant state’s attorney for Cook County and carries on a family tradition of attorneys.

Percy Coleman

Coleman-Oliver Foundation

Percy Coleman has a vast career in law enforcement that spans nearly four decades. Coleman served as police chief for Robbins and Ford Heights and as the Chicago Housing Authority police commander, working on community policing tactics to decrease tense conditions between its residents and the CPD from the 1980s to the mid-1990s. Coleman and his wife lost their son, Philip Coleman, who was tasered and died in the custody of Chicago Police officers — resulting in a $4.9 million settlement in 2015. To continue their son’s legacy of community service, they formed the Coleman-Oliver Foundation in October 2016.

Kofi Xola

Black Lives Matter Chicago

A community activist and organizer, Kofi Ademola Xola is the leader of Black Lives Matter. The group formed by millennials standing up to police misconduct and social injustice has garnered national attention. Their demonstrations and mobilization of youth has influenced the awareness to push for racial equality and end police harassment of Black citizens.

Mecole Jordan

Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability

Mecole Jordan graduated from Western Illinois University with a B.A. in Organizational Communication and has a Master’s of Science degree in Human Resource Management from Capella University. She began her non-profit career volunteering for Target Area Development in 2006-2012, starting with the SMART Act campaign to reduce the criminalization of individuals with drug addiction. She heads up the newly formed GAPA network, which brings together 8-10 community organizations seeking to keep communities safer and police accountable for their engagement with Chicago residents.

Geneva Reed-Veal

(Getty Images)

Mothers of the Movement

No one could have told Geneva Reed-Veal that her life would never be the same after July 2015. The mysterious death of her daughter, Sandra Bland, in the custody of Texas law enforcement turned the country upside down — never turning back. As a voice of “Mothers of the Movement,” Reed-Veal is one of the most outspoken leaders, and has continued her daughter’s legacy for racial and social justice. #SayHerName has become a rallying cry for thousands who have suffered at the hands of police misconduct and abuse.

We invite all attendees of the Black Women’s Expo to participate in this electrifying discussion.  

For information on the 2017 BWE full schedule, please visit:

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