Prexy Nesbitt

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Prexy Nesbitt

Prexy (Roselle) Nesbitt is a veteran Chicago based activist.


Nesbitt was highly active in labor and equality movements and in 1976, he became the national coordinator and field organizer for the Bank Withdrawal Campaign for the American Committee on Africa. Two years later Nesbitt was named the director of the Africa project at the Institute of Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. In 1979, Nesbitt became the program director and secretary for research at the World Council of Churches, based in Geneva, Switzerland.

Nesbitt returned to Chicago in 1984, where he continued his work as a labor organizer. In 1986, Chicago mayor Harold Washington named Nesbitt as a special assistant. The following year, the government of Mozambique appointed Nesbitt to serve as a consultant to help them represent their interest to the United States, Canada, and Europe;he remained in this post until 1992.

In 1990, Nesbitt took a post as a lecturer with the Associated Colleges of the Midwest, and in 1993, Nesbitt has served as senior program officer, and dean of community engagement and diversity with the Program on Peace & International Cooperation with the MacArthur Foundation. In addition to his foundation work, Nesbitt worked as an African and American history teacher at his high school alma mater, Francis W. Parker School. Nesbitt also taught African History at Columbia College, and served as a consultant on diversity for the Francis W. Parker School; the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools; and the East Education Collaborative in Washington D.C. In 2001, Nesbitt became the South African representative of the American Center for International Labor Solidarity in Johannesburg, South Africa, and the interim director for the American Friends Service Committee Africa Program. From 2003 on, Nesbitt worked as the Senior Multiculturalism and Diversity Specialist for the Chicago Teachers Center at Northeaster Illinois University. Nesbitt has lectured both in the United States and abroad, and has written extensively, publishing a book and articles in more than twenty international journals. Nesbitt also served as a co-writer on the BBC production of The People’s Century program Skin Deep, about racism in the United States and South Africa. Over the course of his career, Nesbitt made more than seventy trips to Africa, including trips taken in secret to apartheid torn South Africa; his work has garnered him numerous awards throughout his career.[1]

Antioch crew


John Bachtell, Barbara Winslow, Prexy Nesbitt, Eric Miller


In the early 1970s Prexy Nesbitt got into trouble over his involvement with the Communist Party USA youth wing, the Young Workers Liberation League[2];

When I came back from Tanzania in '69—'70, early '70 ... I'd come back previously because of my mother's death, and then I came back to stay because my family was in real crisis. I was in real hot water with the draft stuff. And then it deepened because I started working in a Catholic women's school on the west side and got involved with the Young Workers Liberation League, a youth wing of the Communist party, organized a meeting at the school. And there was a Red Squad agent on the staff of the school who turned over to the Chicago Tribune this meeting that I had organized so that the Chicago Tribune metro section ran a story about a " red" holding a meeting at this Catholic girls' school. That led to a demand from some of the faculty that I resign.

National Anti-Imperialist Conference in Solidarity With African Liberation

Prexy Nesbitt was named as a sponsor of the Communist Party USA dominated National Anti-Imperialist Conference in Solidarity With African Liberation held at Dunbar Vocational High School, Martin Luther King Drive, Chicago, October 19 to 21 1973.[3]

African Agenda

In the 1970s Prexy Nesbitt, Harold Rogers and Otis Cunningham, together edited the Chicago-based newsletter African Agenda[4].

African-American Agenda

Prexy Nesbitt, Harold Rogers, Linda Rae Murray, Scottie Ray and Otis Cunningham put out a newsletter for seven years called the African-American Agenda.[5]

Hard Times Conference

In 1976 Prexy Nesbitt, Chicago attended the Weather Underground and Prairie Fire Organizing Committee organized Hard Times Conference Jan 30 - Feb 1 at the University of Chicago.[6]

Havana Seminar with the MPLA

"At the request of the MPLA, in February 1976 the Cuban government hosted a seminar which brought together American sympathetic to their struggle in Angola. Twenty-six Americans attended the seminar representing 19 organizations and five African American publications..."including Prexy Nesbitt,[7]

North Americans in Support of Angola

Angola conference.JPG

The Angola Support Conference ran from May 28 - 30, 1976 in Chicago. The event was sponsored by the U.S. Out of Angola Committee and the National Conference of Black Lawyers.

At the conference, Prexy Nesbitt of the Chicago Committee for the Liberation of Angola, Mozambique and Guinea was selected to go on the National Steering Committee.[8]

MPLA support

The Angola Support Conference came into existence to organize a conference to support the MPLA held in Chicago, May 28-30, 1976. The Conference supported the MPLA and opposed U.S. and South African intervention in Angola. The sponsors were organizations supporting the MPLA from around the country. After the Chicago conference, the organization continued its activities with Prexy Nesbitt serving as national coordinator. Sponsors were;

Palestine Human Rights Campaign

A brochure came out in early 1978 announcing "A National Organizing Conference" sponsored by the Palestine Human Rights Campaign to be held on May 20-21, 1978, at American University, with the theme of "Palestinian Human Rights and Peace".

The list of "Sponsors" was a mix of a several groupings including the Communist Party USA and its sympathizers, the World Peace Council, the Hanoi Lobby, black extremists, mainly marxists, radical Christians, and Arab/Arab-American organizations, plus a few phone-booth sized pro-Palestinian Christian groups.

Individual sponsors of the event included Prexy Nesbitt, President American Committee on Africa.

'70s Anti-Apartheid network

Joe Iosbaker December 5, 2013 ·

This plaque is among my most treasured possessions. Remember Nelson Mandela! Continue the struggle against apartheid in Israel! Victory to the liberation struggles of oppressed nations!


— with Dennis O'Neil, Lester Dragstedt, Lynne Adrian, Tracy Van Quaethem, Carol DeProsse, Richard Berg, Jim Potter, John A. Smith, Daniel Hughes, Mike Ascroft, Bob Hearst, Andrew Harvey, Josef Ignatious Fortier, Amy Kratz, Bob Cotter, Craig Perrin, Mike Price, Michael Turnure, Patrick Kearns, Kris Penniston, Stephanie Weiner, Judith Mentzer, Chris Iosbaker, Joe Burns, Bridgette Sheridan, Prexy Nesbitt, Tomas de Bourgha, Kit Bonson, Brenda Barton, Anne Evens, Juliet Holt Klinger, Michael Harvey, Saed Abu-Hijleh, Chip Young, John Stonebarger, Robin Potter, Barbara Ransby, Keith L. Perry, Mick Kelly, Tom Wilson, Beau Barry, Amy Smith, Lj Yanney, Richard Saks, Bruce Nestor, Hermalee Webb and Bethany McIvor.

Coalition for Illinois Divestment from South Africa

Cheryl Johnson-Odim was co-chair, with Prexy Nesbitt, of the Coalition for Illinois Divestment from South Africa-founded 1983[10].

Black Press Institute

In 1987 Prexy Nesbitt was on the Board of Directors of the Black Press Institute[11].

Mozambique Support Network

A meeting of Mozambique Support Network took place Friday, March 11, 1988 and Saturday, March 12,1988 at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago, Illinois.

Attending the meeting were Roberta Washington, Co-chair (New York), Lisa Anderson (Idaho), Alan Isaacman, Co-chair (Minnesota), Damu Smith (Washington DC), Dan Murphy (Iowa), Mackie Mcleod (Boston), Geri Seese-Green (Oregon), Chris Root (Michigan), Stephanie Urdang (New York), Paul Epstein (Boston), Bassiru (Madison), Andy Epstein (Boston), Bill Martin, Anne Evens (Chicago), Sister Joanette Nitz (Detroit), Carrie Pratt (Madison), Prexy Nesbitt (Chicago), Dave Wiley (Michigan), Heather Gray (Atlanta), Ned Alpers, Otis Cunningham (Chicago)

Regrets were sent by Mike Johnson (Iowa), Kevin Danaher (California), Bill Minter, Kathy Flewellen (Washington, DC), Ruth Minter (Maryland), Kathy Sheldon and Steve Tarzynski (California), Paula Voelkel (Wisconsin), Coke McCord (New York) and Todd Hawkins (Washington), Treasurer Lisa Brock was unable to attend due to the tragic death of her mother in Ohio.[12]

Tribute to Golub and Montgomery

On November 16, 1989, Prexy Nesbitt was listed as a friend of the Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights Tribute to Leon Golub and Lucy Montgomery, held at the Congress Hotel, Chicago.[13]

Consultant to Mozambique

In 1989 Prexy Nesbitt, was a "consultant to Mozambique"[14].

Institute for Policy Studies connections

Prexy Nesbitt, Co-director, Africa Project IPS was listed[15]among those participating in the Institute for Policy Studies affiliated Conference on Alternative State and Local Policies {CASLP} Bryn Mawr August 3-5 1979.

In 1993 Prexy Nesbitt was listed among "former fellows, project co-ordinators and staff" of the Institute for Policy Studies, Washington DC.[16]

Committees of Correspondence connection

In 1994 Prexy Nesbitt, Chicago, was listed on a "Membership, Subscription and Mailing List" for the Chicago Committees of Correspondence, an offshoot of the Communist Party USA[17]

Chicago Committee in Solidarity with Southern Africa

The 1994 Chicago Committee in Solidarity with Southern Africa board of directors consisted of Lisa Brock, Kay Burnett, Basil Clunie, Selena Derey, Michael Freedberg, Joan Gerig, Cheryl Harris, Prexy Nesbitt, Barbara Ransby, Rachel Rubin, Zeva Schub. [18]

Black Radical Congress

In March 1998 “Endorsers of the Call” to found a Black Radical Congress included Prexy Nesbitt, Chicago[19].

"Support Bill Ayers"

In October 2008, several thousand college professors, students and academic staff signed a statement Support Bill Ayers in solidarity with former Weather Underground Organization terrorist Bill Ayers.

In the run up to the U.S. presidential elections, Ayers had come under considerable media scrutiny, sparked by his relationship to presidential candidate Barack Obama.

We write to support our colleague Professor William Ayers, Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who is currently under determined and sustained political attack...
We, the undersigned, stand on the side of education as an enterprise devoted to human inquiry, enlightenment, and liberation. We oppose the demonization of Professor William Ayers.

Prexy Nesbitt of Columbia College signed the statement.[20]