Award winning civil rights activist Lateefah Simon to share her inspirational story

January 30, 2017

Award winning civil rights activist Lateefah Simon will present Carleton College’s Black History Month convocation on Friday, Feb. 3. In a presentation titled “Black Future: What the Future Demands,” Simon will share her own inspirational story, aiming to give hope to thousands of individuals and families to overcome challenges of poverty and discrimination.

Carleton convocations are held from 10:50 to 11:50 a.m. in the Skinner Memorial Chapel. This event is free and open to the public, and will also be recorded for online viewing at

Born and raised in San Francisco’s Western Addition housing projects, Simon has been on the frontlines working to champion the most vulnerable communities in the San Francisco Bay Area since she was recruited from the streets to be an organizer for the Center for Young Women’s Development at age 15. Appointed executive director of the CYWD at age 19, she served for over a decade and brought the organization to national acclaim, and earned the distinction of the youngest woman ever to receive a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship. 

Simon then went on to serve as executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, where she revamped the 40-year-old organization’s structure and implemented successful community based initiatives, including the Second Chance Legal Services Clinic. As program director at the Rosenberg Foundation, she managed a portfolio of grants aimed at supporting groundbreaking advocacy in the areas of criminal justice reform, immigrant rights, low-wage workers’ rights and civic engagement in California. She also helped launch the new $2 million Leading Edge Fund to seed, incubate and accelerate bold ideas from the next generation of progressive movement leaders in California. 

Simon is now the president of the Akonadi Foundation, a charitable group that funds community projects in the San Francisco Bay area that support and nurture racial justice. More at

Among her many accolades, Simon is the recipient of a 2007 Jefferson Award and was named “California Woman of the Year” by the California State Assembly in 2005. In addition to her MacArthur Foundation grant (awarded when she was only 26), she has received a Levi Strauss Pioneer Award and was named to O magazine’s first Power List.

This event is sponsored by Carleton College Communications, with support from the Office of Intercultural & International Life. For more information, including disability accommodations, call (507) 222-4308. The Skinner Memorial Chapel is located at First and College Streets in Northfield.