State of Young Black New York

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Meet the Panelist

(1) Royce Russell, Esq.

For Royce Russell, being an attorney means being an advocate. Royce specializes in Criminal Defense, False
Arrest/Police Brutality (1983 Civil Rights Violations), Immigration, Contracts, Employment Law and Trademark. At Emdin & Russell, LLP, he has represented individuals in Federal and State Court from Criminal Investigations, to Trials, as well as represented victims of Police Brutality/False Arrest (1983 Civil Rights Violations). Most notably, he has represented the family of Ramarley Graham, who at 18 years old, was shot to death by NYPD officers. Dedicated to justice and reform from an early age, once Royce graduated from Hofstra University School of Law he began his practice of the law as an Assistant District Attorney in the Bronx, NY under the first African-American District Attorney, Robert Johnson. DA Johnson’s leadership and multifaceted approach to preventing crime through community outreach was invaluable to Royce who has sought to serve and represent those that are so often lost to the justice system. To enhance that goal, Royce became a mentor with a program named “Hoop Brothers” which combines academics and athletics to assist the development of at risk High School students. He continues to serve his community by way of conducting workshops and speaking engagements with organizations such as Fathers in the Hood, National Action Network-Legal Night and Jack and Jill, Inc. Committed to protecting the vulnerable throughout many communities, Royce served as a District Trial Counsel for the Department of Justice- Homeland Security-Immigration Division. Royce’s expertise in Immigration law has allowed for him to serve as a consultant for his colleagues whose cases involve complex immigration consequences. From Naturalization, Adjustment of Status to Removal/Deportation proceedings he has litigated immigration cases in various states in both Federal and State courts. Creating a more comprehensive understanding of immigration law for attorneys and the public they serve has been of the utmost concern for Royce. For almost a decade Royce has litigated Discrimination-Wrongful Termination, (Title VII) cases. He served as a Mediator for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as well as an Arbitrator for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, (FINRA), presiding over Security matters stemming from Broker Misconduct, Insider Trading to Wrongful Termination and Breach of Contract. Serving as an Arbitrator and Mediator has enhanced Royce’s development in the field of Alternative Dispute Resolution as a valuable option to litigation. Notably serving as an Arbitrator on litigation concerning Muriel Siebert Financial Corp. Royce has lectured for the National Bar Association at its yearly convention as well as throughout the Tri-StateState, (NY, NJ, CONN.), on the subject of False Arrest and Immigration. Royce served as the co-host of Legally Speaking, which aired on WWRL 1600 am, as well as a Legal Analyst for Tru TV, Fox News and Hot 97’s Street Soldiers.

(2)Linda Sarsour

Linda Sarsour is a working woman, racial justice and civil rights activist, every Islamophobe’s worst nightmare, and mother of three. Ambitious, outspoken and independent, Linda shatters stereotypes of Muslim women while also treasuring her religious and ethnic heritage. She is a Palestinian Muslim American and a self-proclaimed “pure New Yorker, born and raised in Brooklyn!” She is the Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York and Senior Strategist for Take on Hate, a recently launched campaign which aims to change perceptions of Arab and Muslim Americans including refugees. In 2013, she co-founded the Muslim Democratic Club of New York, the first of its kind in NYC. In wake of the police murder of Mike Brown, she co-founded Muslims for Ferguson to build solidarity amongst American Muslim communities and encourage work against police brutality. She has received numerous awards and honors including “Champion of Change” by the White House, the New York City Council’s Shirley Chisholm Women of Distinction Award and received the inaugural American Muslim of the Year honor from the Council on Americans Islamic Relations. She has written for and has been featured in local, national, and international media discussing impact of domestic policies that target Arab and Muslim American communities, criminal justice issues and Middle East affairs.

(3) Tynesha McHarris

Tynesha McHarris joined Brooklyn Community Foundation as Director of Community Leadership in June 2014. She has worked with the Foundation since January 2014, helping to launch and implement the Brooklyn Insights initiative; in her current role, she is developing the Foundation’s core initiatives and grantmaking strategies. Previously, she was Director of Programs and Community Engagement at Newark Trust for Education, Director of Community Programming for PENewark, and Newark Program Director for the Sadie Nash Leadership Project.

Tynesha is a graduate of Rutgers University, and has completed post-graduate training in Columbia Business School’s Social Enterprise Executive Education Program as well as Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Center for Creative Leadership’s Executive Education Program. She is on the board of Sadie Nash Leadership Project, Chad Schools Foundation, and Art & Abolition. She lives in Bedford Stuyvesant with her sister Tameika; the pair are the subject of a future HBO documentary, Another Night in the Free World, featuring young women activists.

(4) Michelle Crentsil

Michelle is a union organizer in New York City. In addition to union organizing, her past experience includes youth organizing and welfare rights organizing. She focuses on intersections of race, gender, and class oppressions in her organizing and activist work. She is also a member of the New York City chapter of Black Youth Project 100, an activist member-based organization dedicated to creating justice and freedom for all black people.

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