14: Citizen Cuddy

Amy and Jeff.jpg

In this podcast, Rev. Brown speaks with Amy Cuddy. Amy is perhaps best known for her amazing TED talk. With over 43 million views, it is one of the most popular TED talks. She also wrote the NYTimes Bestseller Presence - in which Rev. Brown was among her featured examples. 

In this wide ranging conversation, Amy Cuddy shares the story about how she came to deliver this TED talk, her experiences on the day of her talk - including some very unexpected conversations after her talk. She talks about the extraordinary response she's gotten - mostly, but not entirely, positive. 

Amy Cuddy and Rev. Brown have a very insightful discussion about the intense scrutiny and criticism she experienced related to some of the research referenced in her TED talk and book. She ends by talking about what she learned about people - the good and the bad and what she's working on now (hint: it's a very big idea).

13: Second Chance USA

Sethu Odayappan, CEO and co-Founder of Second Chance USA

Sethu Odayappan, CEO and co-Founder of Second Chance USA

Rev. Brown speaks with Sethu Odayappan, CEO and co-Founder of Second Chance USA. They are a young organization dedicated to reducing recidivism by providing training and matching ex-offenders with employment opportunities.

Formed by 3 high school students, they offer a great example of social enterprise and the power that young people have to change the world.

By doing this, they're able to:

  • Reduce the rate of recidivism (% of ex-offenders who commit another crime)
  • Fill a middle-skill labor gap that currently exists in many markets
  • Provide a better future for ex-offenders

Learn more at www.secondchanceusa.com.


12: (Bonus Episode) Julie Shapiro from Radiotopia

Julie shapiro of Radiotopia

Julie shapiro of Radiotopia

For an episode of The Chronicle on ABC5, we had the opportunity to speak with Julie Shapiro, the Executive Director of Radiotopia. It was a short, but very interesting conversation across many topics - the new voice of podcasting, her fascinating stories about starting The American Life and other shows and Rev. Brown's experiences with podcasting. 

Learn more about Julie on her website.

11: Are We Sure That's Not Us?

Yusufi Vali has been the Executive Director of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center since September 2012. Previously, he was a community organizer with the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, a chapter of the Industrial Areas Foundation. He also worked as a field organizer on the Obama campaign in 2008. Yusufi is a graduate of Princeton University, a Marshall Scholar, and a Fulbright Scholar.

In this conversation, Yusufi and Rev. Brown cover many topics including:

  • Yusufi's experiences as a 1st generation immigrant in the mid-west (go Royals!)
  • Yusifi's remarkable experiences visiting Syria in the early 2000's
  • How Sept 11, 2001, as a freshman at Princeton, changed Yusufi's life and led to him re-focusing his life to community and service
  • How Donald Trump reflects on America and perhaps deeper societal trends
  • How people can learn more with and engage with the Boston Islamic community

Learn more about Yusufi at The Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center.

Follow him on Twitter: @YusufiVali

References from this episode:

Qu'ran in English by M A S Abdel Haleem

Muhammad, Man and Prophet

Approaching the Qur'an: The Early Revelations

Being Muslim: A Practical Guide

Michael Anthony Sells


10: People Have Retreated to the Easiest Solutions

In this episode of The Courage to Listen, Rev Brown speaks with Professor Khalil Gibran Muhammad. They cover many topics including:

  • Professor Muhammad's childhood in Chicago - growing up as the great grandson of Elijah Muhammad, the Founder of The Nation of Islam
  • The historical context of BLM and the role of political education in improving the lives of future generations
  • How the world's interconnectedness may change the outcome of the current impulses of European and American nationalism and xenophobia

About our guest:

Khalil Gibran Muhammad, PhD is a Professor of History, Race, and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, The Suzanne Young Murray Professor at the Radcliffe Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy, The Director Emeritus at the Schomburg Center and the author of The Condemnation of Blackness

References (links):

Ida B Wells

Kerner Commission

1935 Harlem race riot

The Negro in Harlem: A Report on Social and Economic Conditions Responsible for the Outbreak of March 19, 1935 (excerpt here)

E Franklin Frazier

Hush Harbor

Friends of Reconciliation Comic Books

Movement for Black Lives

9: We Punish Responsibility Taking

Adam Foss.JPG

Adam Foss' incredible TED Talk is empowering a new generation of attorneys and activists to re-imagine the role of prosecutors. In this powerful conversation, Rev Brown and Adam Foss discuss:

  • How Adam's childhood in rural MA helped shape his worldview and led him to the work he does and how his first clerkship changed everything for his future
  • The incredible social and economic returns of keeping kids "out of the system"
  • The resources available to DA's offices beyond their "day job" of prosecuting crime to help their communities

Adam is a former Prosecutor in Suffolk County Massachusetts and is the Founder of Prosecutor Impact - an organization that helps train prosecutors on how to have a greater community impact. 

Learn more about Adam Foss here.

8: Ed Davis - The Commissioner of Community Policing

Ed Davis and Jeffrey Brown

In this episode, Rev. Brown speaks with former Boston Police Commissioner, Ed Davis. They cover many topics, including:

  • The benefits of community policing
  • How police training and capabilities changed after September 11th
  • His experience leading law enforcement efforts after the Boston Marathon Bombing
  • His view of the future of policing, especially after the political events of 2016

Commissioner Davis was born into a police family in Lowell, MA. After college, he rose from the role of beat cop to Superintendent of Police of Lowell. While in that role, he was responsible for a quicker reduction in crime rate than any other city of the same size. He was Boston Police Commissioner from 2006 to 2013. 

Commissioner Davis is a well-known advocate for community policing. He brought this transformative approach to policing to Lowell and continued to embrace and expand it in Boston. 

Commissioner Davis led the law enforcement efforts after the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2012. His character is played by John Goodman in the Mark Wahlberg film Patriot's Day

Commissioner Davis is now CEO of Edward Davis LLC, an independent security solutions provider.

7: Aggressive Nonviolence

Teny Gross

In this episode, Rev. Brown speaks with his longtime friend and colleague, Teny Gross. Teny is the Executive Director of the Institute for Noviolence Chicago. Previously, Teny founded and led the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence in Providence Rhode Island.

Teny explains why aggressive nonviolence is the only approach that works to sustainably reducing violence and the critical, but complex role that police play in reducing violence.

Teny shares what he learned from being an Israeli soldier, how Dr. King's messages are as relevant today as they've ever been, the experiences that haunt and drive him and how he views himself as one of many committed scientists who are always learning, but never satisfied. 

Rev. Brown and Teny talk about the impact of the presidential election, what Teny's new organization is trying to accomplish in Chicago and what people can do today to make a difference in their communities. 

Here's a few other powerful quotes from the interview (slightly paraphrased):

"If [nonviolence] sounds mushy to some, I'll remind [the listeners] that I'm a Serbian Israeli former Sargent in the Israeli Army who faced guns in both Boston and Providence to my chest. I understand risk and I recognize evil when I see it..."

"...the goals are to see the humanity in both sides [police and gang members]..."

"...just investing in failure through [an] expensive jail system has not worked for any of us - has decimated neighborhoods and made the police even more hated [by the communities they serve]. The rewards of arresting and removing bad guys hasn't...gotten the love from the community because it is really the removal of the children from those communities..."

6: Prayer and Action

Reverend Michael McBride

In this episode, Rev. Brown speaks with Oakland-based Pastor and Activist Rev. Michael McBride. They discuss Rev. McBrides' assault by police officers when he was in college that helped cement his future working for justice through his church and his activism. They then cover a wide range of topics from how a Trump presidency was predictable, how to combat growing white rebellion, how he's empowering his church and many others to play an active role in helping their communities and what type of world he's helping to build for his daughters.


5: Renee Omolade - We Are The Ones

Growing up in Boston, Renee is co-founder of We Are The Ones Boston. In this conversation, she shares her first hand experiences about education, social justice and activism. She offers a very compelling argument for everyone to vote "even if you just vote for yourself." She breaks down the charter school initiative on the ballot in MA and talks about the 3 pillars of her group's mission:

  1. Youth Engagement
  2. Blackenomics
  3. Community Beautification

Renee also discusses what other millennials can do to make a difference and why Black Lives Matter has been so effective (and misunderstood). 

4:The Boston Gang Truce

In the mid 1990's, a group of clergy, police and probation officers brokered an unprecedented ceasefire between 2 Boston gangs. Nobody had ever done anything like this before. It took months of careful planning, negotiating and communications. The leaders of these efforts get together for the first time in at least a decade to discuss what they did, how it all came together and the challenges they've faced keeping the peace.

They talk about the little details - like providing the right food and venues. And, they talk about the extraordinary risks they faced, like clergy walking around at 2 am literally in the middle of a gang war to find and engage the gang leaders to bring them to the table and the political backlashes they faced once the truce was established.

In the end, they literally brought in the competing gang leaders from around the city voluntarily in vans driven by police officers to one of the most beautiful venues in Boston - The JFK Library - to negotiate a truce that ultimately led to what is now called The Boston Miracle - 29 consecutive months of zero youth-involved homicides. 

3: The Science of Reducing Violence

Thomas Abt.jpg

It turns out that bringing peace to cities isn't actually rocket science. But, it's not easy either. It turns out that we know how to do it, but  sadly don't. Professor Abt discusses his groundbreaking research into what it takes to bring peace. He's not a typical researcher. His fieldwork involved doing night walks with Rev Brown and others in addition to spending time in many of the world's most dangerous cities to observe what does and doesn't work. He's published 2 articles this year on Vox.com that share his findings. In this conversation, he discusses what he's learned, why cities aren't implementing these proven approaches and what we can do to save or improve millions of lives. 

His two 2016 Vox articles are:

A researcher explains the sad truth: we know how to stop gun violence. But we don't do it.

The surge in violent crime is overblown — but here’s how to combat it


2: Police Body Cameras in Boston

Segun Idowu.jpg

Segun Idowu and Shekia Scott founded what they call "a pop-up organization" called BPCAT - Boston Police Camera Action Team. Its purpose is to help craft and guide the legislation in Boston around body-worn cameras for officers. In this conversation, Segun shares why they created this group, what its goals are and why he believes that "pop-up organizations" are the future.

Instead of creating an organization that lives indefinitely and requires the staffing, fundraising and infrastructure to sustain itself, a pop-up organization is leaner, is intended to only exist for a short period of time and has very explicit goals. This conversation is a great look into how city government works, how good intentions aren't always enough and why legislative details really matter. 

1: We Didn't Have a Gang Problem, We Had a Youth Violence Problem

Michael Hennessey.jpg

Michael Hennessey is a retired Boston School Police Chief. He was one of the key partners in bringing about the gang truce and subsequent Boston Miracle. He and Rev. Brown recount how they came to work together and tells incredible stories about the beginnings of gang activity in Boston, the escalation of violence between gangs, the denial of the problem and what they ultimately were able to do about it.