Ajamu Baraka has been Executive Director of the US Human Rights Networksince its inception in 2003. Under Baraka, the Network has grown exponentially to meet the increasing demand for its services and programs and now comprises more than 300 U.S.-based member organizations and more than 1,500 individuals working on the full spectrum of human rights issues.
A human rights defender whose experience spans three decades of domestic and international education and activism, Baraka served in various leadership capacities with Amnesty International(USA) prior to assuming his current position. As AIUSA’s Southern Regional Director, he played a key role in developing the organization’s 1998 campaign to expose human rights violations in the United States. Baraka also directed Amnesty’s National Program to Abolish the Death Penalty.
A veteran grassroots organizer with roots in the “Black Liberation Movement,” anti-apartheid and Central American solidarity struggles, Baraka is an internationally recognized leader of the emerging human rights movement in the U.S. and has been in the forefront of the effort to apply the international
human rights framework to domestic social justice advocacy for more than 20 years. He played an instrumental role in convening the series of bi-annual Southern Human Rights Organizers’ conferences (SHROC) that began in 1996. These gatherings represented some of the first post-Cold War human rights training opportunities for grassroots activists in the country.
In 1998, Baraka was honored by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan as one of 300 human rights defenders from around the world who were brought together at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 2001, Baraka received the “Abolitionist of the Year” award from the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. The following year, Baraka received the “Human Rights Guardian” award from the National Center for Human Rights Education.
Baraka has also served on the boards of various national and international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International (USA) and the National Center for Human Rights Education. He is currently on the boards of the Center for Constitutional Rights; Africa Action;Latin American Caribbean Community Center; Diaspora Afrique; and the Mississippi Workers’ Center for Human Rights.
Baraka has taught political science at various universities, including Clark Atlanta University and Spelman College. He has been a guest lecturer at academic institutions throughout the U.S., and has authored several articles on international human rights.