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Lenora Fulani

Lenora Fulani

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Lenora Branch Fulani is an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

Psychologist is a professional or academic title used by individuals who are either:* Clinical professionals who work with patients in a variety of therapeutic contexts .* Scientists conducting psychological research or teaching psychology in a college...

, psychotherapist
Psychotherapy is a general term referring to any form of therapeutic interaction or treatment contracted between a trained professional and a client or patient; family, couple or group...

, and political activist. She may be best known for her presidential
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 campaigns and development of youth programs serving minority communities in the New York City area. In the United States presidential election, 1988
United States presidential election, 1988
The United States presidential election of 1988 featured no incumbent president, as President Ronald Reagan was unable to seek re-election after serving the maximum two terms allowed by the Twenty-second Amendment. Reagan's Vice President, George H. W. Bush, won the Republican nomination, while the...

 heading the New Alliance Party
New Alliance Party
The New Alliance Party was an American political party formed in New York City in 1979. Its immediate precursor was an umbrella organization known as the Labor Community Alliance for Change, whose member groups included the coalition of Grass Roots Women and the New York City Unemployed and...

 ticket, she became the first woman and the first African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

 to achieve ballot access
Ballot access
Ballot access rules, called nomination rules outside the United States, regulate the conditions under which a candidate or political party is either entitled to stand for election or to appear on voters' ballots...

 in all fifty states. She received more votes for President
A president is a leader of an organization, company, trade union, university, or country.Etymologically, a president is one who presides, who sits in leadership...

 in a U.S. general election
General election
In a parliamentary political system, a general election is an election in which all or most members of a given political body are chosen. The term is usually used to refer to elections held for a nation's primary legislative body, as distinguished from by-elections and local elections.The term...

 than any other woman in history. Fulani's political concerns include racial equality
Racial equality
Racial equality means different things in different contexts. It mostly deals with an equal regard to all races.It can refer to a belief in biological equality of all human races....

, gay rights and for the past decade, political reform, specifically to encourage third parties.

In her career, Fulani has worked closely since 1980 with Fred Newman
Fred Newman
Frederick Delano "Fred" Newman was an American philosopher, psychotherapist, playwright and political activist, and creator of a therapeutic modality called Social Therapy.-Early life:...

, a New York-based psychotherapist and political activist who has often served as her campaign manager. Newman developed the theory and practice of Social Therapy
Social Therapy
Social Therapy is an activity-theoretic practice developed outside of academia at the East Side Institute for Group and Short Term Psychotherapy in New York. Its primary methodologists are cofounders of the East Side Institute, Fred Newman and Lois Holzman...

 in the 1970s, founding the New York Institute for Social Therapy in 1977. Along with psychologist Lois Holzman
Lois Holzman
Lois Holzman is a cofounder with Fred Newman of the East Side Institute for Group and Short Term Psychotherapy and the Institute's current director...

, Fulani has worked to incorporate the social therapeutic approach into youth-oriented programs, most notably the New York City-based All Stars Project, which she co-founded in 1981.

In 1993, Fulani joined activists who supported Ross Perot
Ross Perot
Henry Ross Perot is a U.S. businessman best known for running for President of the United States in 1992 and 1996. Perot founded Electronic Data Systems in 1962, sold the company to General Motors in 1984, and founded Perot Systems in 1988...

 for President in the United States presidential election, 1992
United States presidential election, 1992
The United States presidential election of 1992 had three major candidates: Incumbent Republican President George Bush; Democratic Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton, and independent Texas businessman Ross Perot....

, in a national effort to create a new pro-reform party. In 1994 she led formation of the Committee for a Unified Independent Party (CUIP). For years Fulani was active with Newman's version of the International Workers Party
International Workers Party
The International Workers Party is supposedly a secretive Marxist political organization founded by controversial organizer, playwright and psychotherapist Fred Newman.-Origins:The history of the IWP is itself controversial...

 (IWP). More recently she has been active with the Independence Party of New York
Independence Party of New York
The Independence Party is an affiliate in the U.S. state of New York of the Independence Party of America. The party was founded in 1991 by Dr. Gordon Black, Tom Golisano, and Laureen Oliver from Rochester, New York, and acquired ballot status in 1994...

, which was founded in Rochester
Rochester, New York
Rochester is a city in Monroe County, New York, south of Lake Ontario in the United States. Known as The World's Image Centre, it was also once known as The Flour City, and more recently as The Flower City...

 in 1991 and has become influential statewide.

Early life

The youngest daughter of a registered nurse and a railway baggage handler, Fulani was born Lenora Branch in 1950 in Chester, Pennsylvania
Chester, Pennsylvania
Chester is a city in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, United States, with a population of 33,972 at the 2010 census. Chester is situated on the Delaware River, between the cities of Philadelphia and Wilmington, Delaware.- History :...

. Her father died of pneumonia when she was 12. As a teenager in Chester in the 1960s, Fulani was active in her local Baptist church, where she played piano for the choir.

In 1967, Fulani was awarded a scholarship to study at Hofstra University
Hofstra University
Hofstra University is a private, nonsectarian institution of higher learning located in the Village of Hempstead, New York, United States, about east of New York City: less than an hour away by train or car...

 in New York. She graduated in 1971, and went on to earn a master's degree from Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

's Teachers College
Teachers College, Columbia University
Teachers College, Columbia University is a graduate school of education located in New York City, New York...

  In the late 1970s, she earned a Ph.D. in developmental psychology from the City University of New York
City University of New York
The City University of New York is the public university system of New York City, with its administrative offices in Yorkville in Manhattan. It is the largest urban university in the United States, consisting of 23 institutions: 11 senior colleges, six community colleges, the William E...

 (CUNY). Fulani was a guest researcher at Rockefeller University from 1973–1977, with a focus on how learning and social environment interact for African-American youth.

While in college, she became involved in black nationalist
Black nationalism
Black nationalism advocates a racial definition of indigenous national identity, as opposed to multiculturalism. There are different indigenous nationalist philosophies but the principles of all African nationalist ideologies are unity, and self-determination or independence from European society...

 politics, along with her then-husband Richard. Both had adopted the African tribal name Fulani as a surname when they married in a traditional West Africa
West Africa
West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of the African continent. Geopolitically, the UN definition of Western Africa includes the following 16 countries and an area of approximately 5 million square km:-Flags of West Africa:...

n ceremony. During her studies at City University, Fulani became interested in the work of Fred Newman and Lois Holzman, who had recently formed the New York Institute for Social Therapy and Research. Fulani studied at the Institute in the early 1980s.

Electoral politics

Fulani became active in the Newman-founded independent New Alliance Party
New Alliance Party
The New Alliance Party was an American political party formed in New York City in 1979. Its immediate precursor was an umbrella organization known as the Labor Community Alliance for Change, whose member groups included the coalition of Grass Roots Women and the New York City Unemployed and...

 (NAP) and emerged as a spokesperson who often provoked controversy. In 1982 Fulani ran for Lt. Governor of New York on the NAP ticket but was unsuccessful. She has also been involved in the affiliated (or some say, secret) Independent Workers Party, the Rainbow Alliance, and other shifting groups led by Newman.

She helped recruit the NAP's 1984 presidential candidate Dennis L. Serrette
Dennis L. Serrette
Dennis L. Serrette, born in Harlem, New York in the 1940s, was the New Alliance Party candidate for United States President in the 1984 presidential election. His running mate was Nancy Ross. He split with the party after the election....

, an African-American trade union activist. Although he was quite involved with the party for years, Serrette left and published critical accounts of what he described as its cultic operation.

Fulani ran for President in 1988 as the candidate of the New Alliance Party
New Alliance Party
The New Alliance Party was an American political party formed in New York City in 1979. Its immediate precursor was an umbrella organization known as the Labor Community Alliance for Change, whose member groups included the coalition of Grass Roots Women and the New York City Unemployed and...

. She received almost a quarter of a million votes or 0.2% of the vote. She was the first African-American independent and the first women presidential candidate on the ballot in all 50 states. In the 1990 New York Gubernatorial election
New York gubernatorial election, 1990
The 1990 New York gubernatorial election was held on November 6, 1990 to elect the Governor and Lieutenant Governor of New York.-Results:...

 Fulani ran as a New Alliance candidate. She was endorsed that year by Nation of Islam
Nation of Islam
The Nation of Islam is a mainly African-American new religious movement founded in Detroit, Michigan by Wallace D. Fard Muhammad in July 1930 to improve the spiritual, mental, social, and economic condition of African-Americans in the United States of America. The movement teaches black pride and...

 leader Louis Farrakhan
Louis Farrakhan
Louis Farrakhan Muhammad, Sr. is the leader of the African-American religious movement the Nation of Islam . He served as the minister of major mosques in Boston and Harlem, and was appointed by the longtime NOI leader, Elijah Muhammad, before his death in 1975, as the National Representative of...

. Fulani received 31,089 votes for 0.77% of the total vote.

Although in 1987 Fulani and Newman began an alliance with minister and activist Al Sharpton
Al Sharpton
Alfred Charles "Al" Sharpton, Jr. is an American Baptist minister, civil rights activist, and television/radio talk show host. In 2004, he was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. presidential election...

, in 1992 he ran for the U.S. Senate from New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 as a Democrat rather than as an Independent. Since then, Sharpton has kept his distance from both Fulani and Newman.

Fulani again ran as the New Alliance candidate for President in the 1992 election, this time receiving 0.07% of the vote. She chose former Peace and Freedom Party activist Maria Elizabeth Muñoz
Maria Elizabeth Muñoz
Maria Elizabeth Muñoz, a Chicana activist, was a third-party candidate for Vice President of the United States in the United States presidential election, 1992, representing the New Alliance Party as the running mate of Lenora Fulani...

 as her vice-presidential
Vice President of the United States
The Vice President of the United States is the holder of a public office created by the United States Constitution. The Vice President, together with the President of the United States, is indirectly elected by the people, through the Electoral College, to a four-year term...

 running mate. Muñoz ran on the NAP ticket for the offices of U.S. Senator
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 and governor in California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 but was unsuccessful. In 1992 Fulani self-published her autobiography
An autobiography is a book about the life of a person, written by that person.-Origin of the term:...

 The Making of a Fringe Candidate, 1992.

In 1994, Fulani and Newman became affiliated with the Patriot Party
Patriot Party
There have been several groups called the Patriot Party, the Patriotic Party, or similar:* Aruban Patriotic Party* British Columbia Patriot Party, in Canada* Parti patriote, in Canada* New Patriotic Party, in Ghana...

, one of many groups that later competed for control of the Reform Party
Reform Party of the United States of America
The Reform Party of the United States of America is a political party in the United States, founded in 1995 by Ross Perot...

, founded by Ross Perot
Ross Perot
Henry Ross Perot is a U.S. businessman best known for running for President of the United States in 1992 and 1996. Perot founded Electronic Data Systems in 1962, sold the company to General Motors in 1984, and founded Perot Systems in 1988...

. She also joined with Jacqueline Salit to start the Committee for a Unified Independent Party (CUIP), formed to bring together independent groups to challenge the bipartisan hegemony in American politics.

During the 2000 election, Fulani surprisingly endorsed Pat Buchanan
Pat Buchanan
Patrick Joseph "Pat" Buchanan is an American paleoconservative political commentator, author, syndicated columnist, politician and broadcaster. Buchanan was a senior adviser to American Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan, and was an original host on CNN's Crossfire. He sought...

, then running on the Reform Party ticket. She even served briefly as co-chair of the campaign. Fulani withdrew her endorsement, saying that Buchanan was trying to further his right-wing agenda. Fulani and Newman then endorsed the Presidential candidacy of Natural Law Party
Natural Law Party
The Natural Law Party was a transnational party based on the teachings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It was active in up to 74 countries, and ran candidates in at least ten. Founded in 1992, it was mostly disbanded in 2004 but continues in India and in some U.S. states.The NLP viewed "natural law" as...

 leader John Hagelin
John Hagelin
John Samuel Hagelin is an American particle physicist, three-time candidate of the Natural Law Party for President of the United States , and the director of the Transcendental Meditation movement for the US....

, a close associate of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi , born Mahesh Prasad Varma , developed the Transcendental Meditation technique and was the leader and guru of the TM movement, characterised as a new religious movement and also as non-religious...

. Later, Fulani unsuccessfully sought the Vice Presidential nomination at the national convention organized by a faction of the Reform Party.

In the 2001 election
Election results for mayor of New York
The Mayor of the City of New York is elected in early November every four years and takes office at the beginning of the following year. The city which elects the Mayor as its chief executive consists of the Five Boroughs which consolidated to form "Greater" New York on January 1, 1898.The...

 for Mayor of New York City, Fulani endorsed the Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 candidate Michael Bloomberg
Michael Bloomberg
Michael Rubens Bloomberg is the current Mayor of New York City. With a net worth of $19.5 billion in 2011, he is also the 12th-richest person in the United States...

 and organized city members of the IP to work for his campaign. Bloomberg, once elected, approved an $8.7 million municipal bond to provide financing for Fulani and Newman to build a new headquarters for their youth program, theater and telemarketing center. The Bloomberg alliance with the Independence Party in part was due to New York's fusion
Electoral fusion
Electoral fusion is an arrangement where two or more political parties on a ballot list the same candidate, pooling the votes for that candidate...

 rule, which allowed Bloomberg to aggregate his votes on all ballot lines. The 59,000 votes that Bloomberg received on the Independence Party ballot line exceeded his margin of victory over the Democratic (and Working Families Party
Working Families Party
The Working Families Party is a minor political party in the United States founded in New York in 1998. There are "sister" parties to the New York WFP in Connecticut, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Oregon, but there is as yet no national WFP...

) candidate Mark J. Green
Mark J. Green
Mark J. Green is an author, public interest lawyer and a Democratic politician who lives in New York City. He worked with Ralph Nader from 1970-1980, eventually as director of Public Citizen's Congress Watch, and is also the former president of Air America Radio .He was New York City Consumer...


In the municipal election of 2003, Fulani was among those who endorsed Bloomberg's proposed amendment to the New York City Charter to establish non-partisan elections. Although Bloomberg spent $7 million of his own money to promote the amendment, voters rejected it.

In September 2005 the State Executive Committee of the Independence Party of New York dropped Fulani and other members from the New York City chapter. This was part of a fierce power struggle that has brewed between members from upstate and Long Island, and Newman, Fulani, and the New York-based members. The majority of party members were disaffected by the ideology of Newman and Fulani. The party's state chairman, Frank MacKay, a former ally of Fulani, claimed the action followed Fulani's refusal to repudiate an earlier statement which many considered antisemitic. According to the New York Times, "In 1989, Dr. Fulani wrote that the Jews 'had to sell their souls to acquire Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

' and had to 'function as mass murder
Mass murder
Mass murder is the act of murdering a large number of people , typically at the same time or over a relatively short period of time. According to the FBI, mass murder is defined as four or more murders occurring during a particular event with no cooling-off period between the murders...

ers of people of color' to stay there." Fulani said she did not intend the statement as antisemitic but wanted to raise issues which she believed needed to be explored. She has since repudiated the remarks, which she characterized as "excessive". She publicly apologized to "any people who had been hurt by them".

Citing the "anti-Semitism" allegations, Independence Party State Chairman Frank MacKay initiated proceedings to have nearly 200 Independence Party members in New York City expelled from the party. Each case MacKay brought to the New York State Supreme Court was dismissed. In one instance, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Emily Jane Goodman wrote that the charges were "more political than philosophical."

Fulani formed a coalition to organize Independence Party support for the re-election campaign of Mayor Michael Bloomberg
Michael Bloomberg
Michael Rubens Bloomberg is the current Mayor of New York City. With a net worth of $19.5 billion in 2011, he is also the 12th-richest person in the United States...

. The local press described the coalition as composed of "union officials, clergy
Clergy is the generic term used to describe the formal religious leadership within a given religion. A clergyman, churchman or cleric is a member of the clergy, especially one who is a priest, preacher, pastor, or other religious professional....

, sanitation workers, police officers, firefighters, district leaders and others who work at the grassroots level." Spirited defenses of Fulani have appeared in the city's black press; writing in the Amsterdam News, columnist Richard Carter wrote "there is little doubt that the main reason for the negative press, which, by the way, is not unusual for this brilliant, outspoken political strategist, is because she is a strong, no-nonsense Black woman. So strong she makes the city’s political establishment and lockstep white news media nervous."

Community work

Fulani has worked on a number of community outreach and youth development projects. In 1984, she helped found the Castillo Cultural Center in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, which produces mostly plays written by Newman, in an unusual arrangement. In 1998, the Castillo Center merged with the All Stars Project youth charity and broadened the single base for Newman's work. Fulani has been active in the development of educational programs associatedd with the http://allstars.org/ All Stars Project, including the Joseph A. Forgione Development School for Youth and the All Stars Talent Show Network, which create enriching experiences outside school for poor inner city youth, using a performance model. Fulani described her approach in Derrick Bell
Derrick Bell
Derrick Albert Bell, Jr. was the first tenured African-American professor of Law at Harvard University, and largely credited as the originator of Critical Race Theory. He was the former dean of the University of Oregon School of Law.- Education and early career :Born in the Hill District of...

's 2004 book Silent Covenants: Brown V. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform:
We teach young people to use performance skills to become more cosmopolitan and sophisticated—to interact with the worlds of Wall Street, with business and the arts. In becoming more cosmopolitan— in going beyond their narrow and parochial and largely nationalistic identities—they acquire a motivation to learn as a part of consistently creating and recreating their lives.

In 2004 the Anti-Defamation League
Anti-Defamation League
The Anti-Defamation League is an international non-governmental organization based in the United States. Describing itself as "the nation's premier civil rights/human relations agency", the ADL states that it "fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects...

 criticized the All Stars/Castillo theater troupe for its play Crown Heights, accusing the playwright of blaming the riots on the Jewish community. The play dramatized events of the 1991 riots in Crown Heights
Crown Heights, Brooklyn
Crown Heights is a neighborhood in the central portion of the New York City borough of Brooklyn. The main thoroughfare through this neighborhood is Eastern Parkway, a tree-lined boulevard designed by Frederick Law Olmsted extending two miles east-west.Originally, the area was known as Crow Hill....

, Brooklyn
Brooklyn is the most populous of New York City's five boroughs, with nearly 2.6 million residents, and the second-largest in area. Since 1896, Brooklyn has had the same boundaries as Kings County, which is now the most populous county in New York State and the second-most densely populated...

 after a motorcade of the Lubavitcher rabbi
In Judaism, a rabbi is a teacher of Torah. This title derives from the Hebrew word רבי , meaning "My Master" , which is the way a student would address a master of Torah...

 accidentally killed a seven-year-old Caribbean-American child. The accident ignited long-standing tensions in the community; in street violence, a visiting Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

n rabbinical student, Yankel Rosenbaum, was stabbed to death by Lemrick Nelson
Lemrick Nelson
Lemrick Nelson, Jr. is an African-American man who stabbed Hasidic student Yankel Rosenbaum to death during the racial unrest of the 1991 Crown Heights riot...

, a 16-year-old Crown Heights youth.

A local Brooklyn paper described the play favorably.


Newman and Fulani's leadership, as well as various manifestations of the political party, such as the secret Independent Workers Party, have been strongly criticized by former members through the years, including party candidate Dennis Serrette and five-year member Marina Ortiz. In addition, Political Research Associates
Political Research Associates
Political Research Associates , named and known on the Web as PublicEye.org, is a non-profit research group located in Somerville, Massachusetts.-Mission:...

 published a critical report on the NAP in 1987, and updated and revised it in 2008 on their website www.PublicEye.org.

After working with Fulani for several years, Serrette, who also had a personal relationship with her, has questioned his experience and publicly criticized Newman and Fulani's leadership of the party and its members. "[I]t was clearly a tactical ...a racist
Racism is the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination. In the modern English language, the term "racism" is used predominantly as a pejorative epithet. It is applied especially to the practice or advocacy of racial discrimination of a pernicious nature...

 scheme of using Black and Latino
The demonyms Latino and Latina , are defined in English language dictionaries as:* "a person of Latin-American descent."* "A Latin American."* "A person of Hispanic, especially Latin-American, descent, often one living in the United States."...

 and Asian people
Asian people
Asian people or Asiatic people is a term with multiple meanings that refers to people who descend from a portion of Asia's population.- Central Asia :...

 to do the bidding of one man, namely Fred Newman, that's my opinion, and to use other whites as well, you know through the therapy practices."

After he raised his concerns internally, Serrette said his treatment by other NAP leaders worsened dramatically. He also questioned the way in which therapy was used in the political work: "...[T]herapy was a way of getting people to not only operate in an organizational way, but also a way of controlling every aspect of their lives...you certainly couldn't straighten anybody out. But it was certainly effective in terms of controlling a lot of people to do the kinds of things that were asked of them...they would do anything, just about, that he would ask them to do."

In an article published after he left the NAP, Serrette stated:
"I knew when I joined NAP that it was not black-led, and I knew when I left it was not black-led. It took longer to understand that NAP was not even a progressive
Progressivism in the United States
Progressivism in the United States is a broadly based reform movement that reached its height early in the 20th century and is generally considered to be middle class and reformist in nature. It arose as a response to the vast changes brought by modernization, such as the growth of large...

 organization as it also pretends.

Be that as it may, I probably still would not take the time to write about the organization. However, as a long-time activist who made the mistake of joining NAP, and who served on the organization’s “Central Committee,” I believe I have a responsibility to reveal the intense psychological control and millions of dollars Fred Newman employs to get well-meaning individuals in our communities (they target the black community), to viciously attack black leaders, black institutions, and progressive organizations for purposes of building Newman’s power base."

Fulani dismissed his charges as related simply to the end of their personal relationship. In her self-published autobiography The Making of a Fringe Candidate, 1992 (1992), Fulani wrote that Serrette frequently fought with black women in the New Alliance Party and would "criticize and ridicule" them for their relationship to Newman.

External links