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Bonnie Kerness


Bonnie Kerness has been an anti-racist activist since she was 14, working at the University Settlement House as a volunteer on issues of housing, neighborhood and gangs. In 1961, at the age of 19, she moved to Tennessee to participate in the Civil Rights Movement. In Memphis she was trained as a community organizer by the NAACP. She continued her work and training at Highlander Training School in Knoxville, where organizers from throughout the Civil Rights movement met for training and brainstorming. Bonnie moved back North in 1970 and became active with welfare rights, tenants rights and anti-war groups. Bonnie has worked as a professional organizer on gay rights, welfare rights, women’s rights and other campaigns and has her MSW in community organizing. She has been a human rights advocate on behalf of prisoners since 1975, working as coordinator of the American Friends Service Committee’s Prison Watch Project. Bonnie has raised eight children, three Caucasian and five of African decent. She has served as Associate Director and Acting Director of the AFSC Criminal Justice Program in Newark, the National Coordinator of the Campaign to Stop Control Unit Prisons and serves on the Board of Directors of the World Organization For Human Rights, USA, the Advisory Board of California Prison Focus and Money, Education and Prisons Committee of Madison, Wisconsin. She has helped publish, “Our Children’s House”; “Torture in U.S. Prisons – Evidence of U.S. Human Rights Violations; and “The Prison Inside the Prison: Control Units, Supermax Prisons and Devices of Torture”, and the Survivor’s Manual. Bonnie speaks publicly on behalf of people in prison on U.S. human rights violations of the UN Convention Against Torture and has been quoted in articles, books and other publications on prison related subjects. 

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