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Bertha Lewis
Bertha Lewis is the Founder and President of The Black Institute (TBI), an action “think-tank” non-profit organization. Lewis founded TBI in 2010 to address persistent issues faced by people of color, both within the United States and throughout the Diaspora. Lewis has been an influential leader within the non-profit and political sector for over 20 years. She is the former CEO and Chief Organizer of ACORN, which was a large and powerful national organization that mobilized the urban poor at the grassroots and fought for their needs.

In 2014, Bertha Lewis was named in City & State’s annual list of the top 100 most influential & powerful political leaders in New York City and #43 in The New York Observer’s “Political Power 80” list. She was featured in Essence Magazine’s 2011 list of 28 Most Influential Black Women and was named by Crain’s New York magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential Women of New York, she was named as one of the “Influentials” in politics by New York Magazine.

For her effective community leadership, Bertha Lewis received the New York State Black and Puerto Rican Legislators’ Leon Bogues Award and the Citizen Activist Award from the Gleitsman Foundation for her work in public education reform. She has been honored by major advocacy organizations representing the Caribbean, Russian, and Bangladeshi communities for her work with immigrants and minorities. Ms. Lewis has been a guest on national radio and TV including the Colbert show, Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network show and MSNBC..

Leading the Black Institute, Bertha Lewis continues to battle economic inequality and discrimination against immigrants. She fights for environmental justice and quality schools in America’s cities. In the fight for equality and justice in America, Bertha Lewis stands out as a strong, effective and outspoken leader.

Bertha has lead the fight for citizenship and immigrant rights by advocating at the city, state and federal levels for Caribbean and black immigrants. She’s been an integral part of the low wage workers campaign, guaranteeing higher pay and sick days, as well as working with developers to create a landmark community benefits agreement to secure affordable housing, living wages, local hiring and training programs for the community.

Bertha’s brought together a dynamic interfaith coalition of clergy that engages in social justice issues that impact their congregants and community at large. She’s assisted in mobilizing and organizing NYCHA residents to build community pressure in opposition to the nearby Marine Transfer Station as TBI continues to pioneer coalitions along other diverse community groups and conduct original research and polling, through community outreach and continued grassroots organizing.

Entries by Bertha Lewis

Predatory Equity Leads to Subprime Schools

(20) Comments | Posted April 1, 2015 | 1:38 PM

Activists and lawmakers recovering from this year's Albany budget dance don't need to be reminded of what made this year different than the past six: the more than $5 billion dollar surplus powered by settlements with the financial industry.

But as the next phase of the 2015 legislative session is...

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City Council Must Not Undermine Minority Opportunities

(3) Comments | Posted December 11, 2013 | 12:22 PM

A new City Council proposal meant to solidify organized labor's role in local development projects will effectively bar minority- and women-owned businesses from competing for contracts and create new barriers to employment for many residents. The Council must reject this flawed bill out of hand or overhaul it completely.

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The Price of Retribution

(8) Comments | Posted October 21, 2013 | 6:31 PM

On top of all the other economic hurdles and social barriers that stand in the way of success, young people of color also have to worry that a trivial mistake might send them to prison for the rest of their life. New York is the only state other than North...

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Human Dignity at the Heart of Immigration Reform

(46) Comments | Posted October 2, 2013 | 5:57 PM

The government may have "shutdown" on Tuesday morning, but the fight for immigration reform still burns brightly and must remain at the center of the national discourse. On Oct. 5, the fight will be brought to the doorstep of Congress and all throughout the nation with the "March for Immigrant...

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Sound the Alarm -- It's Been a 50-Year Dream

(14) Comments | Posted August 28, 2013 | 11:09 AM

Today, we celebrate the 50-year anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke the words, "I Have a Dream," that embodied not just the hope of a race, but of a nation. He had a vision, a hope, an ambition, that one...

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King's Dream Is Also an Immigrant Dream

(134) Comments | Posted August 22, 2013 | 1:55 PM

Co-authored by Hector Figueroa, President of 32BJ

On August 28, 1963, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and hundreds of thousands of activists, citizens, union members and leaders descended on Washington to reclaim the American Dream. What followed? The Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act, Medicare, Medicaid and a long...

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Stephen Colbert in Death Match with Black Barbie

(11) Comments | Posted July 21, 2009 | 8:08 PM


A few weeks ago, Stephen Colbert had me on his show. He was trying to get me to confess the numerous ways that ACORN is working to undermine the principles of capitalism. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Now, you know I'd love to...

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Sick and Tired's Turn to Stand and Fight

(0) Comments | Posted June 24, 2009 | 6:26 PM

I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired.

How many times have you said or thought that? Plenty, I'll bet. If you are like ACORN member Tamecka Pierce from Florida who suffers from lupus and serious gaps in her health care coverage, it's a regular thing.


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Stopping the 13 Second Clock: ACORN and Leading Mayors Join Together in Fighting Foreclosures

(5) Comments | Posted June 12, 2009 | 7:33 PM

Yesterday I was honored to be on a call with America's leading mayors and the US Conference of Mayors to talk about a huge problem affecting cities from coast to coast: the foreclosure crisis.

I've been talking about how a family is losing their home every...

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"Lupus Isn't the Only Thing Eating Me Up About Health Care"

(5) Comments | Posted May 20, 2009 | 8:39 PM

When Florida ACORN member Tamecka Pierce first got her employer-provided health insurance, she was ecstatic. No more dealing with the limitations and bureaucracy of the Medicaid system, which had been her sole option as an unemployed single mother with three children.

That joy was short lived. Just after she...

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A 21st Century Civil Rights Movement

(0) Comments | Posted May 1, 2009 | 4:04 PM

Today, Friday May 1, 2009, thousands of people across this magnificent and gorgeous country of ours are taking to the streets to rally for comprehensive changes to our immigration policies - changes that promote family unity, promote public health and safety, and end the police-state approach to patrolling communities of...

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Stopping the Every-13-Second Foreclosure Clock

(16) Comments | Posted April 29, 2009 | 10:21 PM

In America, a family is losing its home every 13 seconds.

This appalling statistic brings home the punishment working families are taking from the foreclosure crisis, a crisis acting like a cancer on the economic recovery. We at ACORN applauded President Obama's "Making Home Affordable" plan...

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Lies and the Lying Liars Exposed

(30) Comments | Posted April 8, 2009 | 8:31 PM

Yesterday Media Matter for America released a well-researched report showing that conservatives have repeatedly resorted to blaming ACORN in place of substantive discussions of causes and solutions, even where the organization has little or nothing to do with the issue.

For us at ACORN, the findings in...

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21st Century Bull Connor: Shameless Intransigence

(1) Comments | Posted March 18, 2009 | 10:47 PM

This is from the "Have They No Shame?" department. For the past couple of months I've been talking about the abuses going on in Maricopa County, Arizona (that's where the fine city of Phoenix is located) at the hands of the local sheriff there, Joe Arpaio.


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Thank You Jon Stewart

(44) Comments | Posted March 13, 2009 | 7:49 PM

I'm sure that many of you reading this have been reveling in Jon Stewart's take-down of banks, speculators, and financial commentators this week on The Daily Show. I have too. I think my favorite part was from last night's floor-wiping spectacular with Jim Cramer.

"Listen, you knew what the...

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The Future Starts Now: President Obama's First Budget

(3) Comments | Posted March 11, 2009 | 3:58 PM

Someone once told me that budgets are moral documents. I think they said that while I was trying to balance my checkbook and the only thing that came to mind was distinctly immoral. But, of course, they didn't mean it that way. Or rather, they didn't mean it related to...

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We Are Willing To Go To Any Means Necessary

(23) Comments | Posted February 20, 2009 | 6:28 PM

On Wednesday I wrote a piece on Huffington Post and another at Open Left talking about the centrality of fixing the foreclosure crisis to any recovery from the economic meltdown. Since the toxic assets at the center of the meltdown are based on mortgages that are entering...

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Time To Put Main Street Over Wall Street -- Obama's Foreclosure Proposal

(4) Comments | Posted February 17, 2009 | 9:18 PM

The clock is ticking.

The clock is ticking for millions of American families facing foreclosure proceedings. In 2008, 2.3 million families entered the foreclosure process.

And, in the time it took you to read this far, it happened to another family. Every 13 seconds a family in the...

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21st Century Bull Connor Closer to Feeling Fire Hose Turned on Him

(18) Comments | Posted February 13, 2009 | 8:55 PM

Just over a week ago, I told you about the latest affront to human dignity carried out by the 21st century's answer to Bull Connor. At the beginning of February, a month in which we celebrate the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, Maricopa County (Arizona) Sheriff Joe Arpaio decided to...

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Taking Action, Saving Homes, Starting the Recovery

(25) Comments | Posted February 10, 2009 | 4:29 PM

"No homes for sale!"

"No homes for sale!"

"No homes for sale!"

It took me about 7 seconds to say that chant three times. Six seconds later another family in America entered the foreclosure process.

ACORN members know what that does to a family and to a community....

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