Kitty Kelly Epstein, an Oakland activist, received the 2013 Marilyn Gittel Activist Scholar award last week when the Urban Affairs Association held its national conference at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco.
Scholars from across the U.S. and many other countries, including Libya, South Africa, China, and Singapore presented research on topics ranging from urban policy in the age of Obama to the development of Black suburbs, causes of gentrification and bottom up views on race and diversity.
Dr. Epstein’s award was presented by Sage Publications and UAA at a plenary session that included participation by Isaac Taggart and Kimberly Mayfield Lynch.
Together, the three discussed Oakland’s unique history and activism as well as such community efforts as creation of a diverse teaching force, service to individuals returning to the community from incarceration and experiments with participatory democracy.
The presentations discussed policy and electoral changes that are also covered in Dr. Epstein’s book, “Organizing to Change a City.”
The UAA “was borne out of the 1960s era of social change and conflict,” said Margaret Wilder, executive director of the organization. “The purpose was simple: to make academic research institutions more relevant to urban communities. Their work in partnership with the residents of urban communities, as exemplified by Kitty Kelly Epstein’s fine efforts, demonstrates that there is a role for academics to play in the great community and social struggles of today.”