Stay Connected and Informed —
Join Northwest Neighbors Village’s Virtual Speaker Series

The Virtual Speaker Series returns in September with a great new line-up of speakers. Scroll down to see our upcoming speakers.

Be sure to check out our extensive archive of previous speakers here.

Northwest DC is home to numerous dynamic, informed individuals.  Several have offered to share their expertise and insights in a series of talks. Plan to join us for one or all of these discussions, which are designed to engage and inform you. NNV's Speaker Series is being offered free of charge to the community.

U.S. Indian Boarding Schools: A Legacy of Survivance

November 30, 2023 2:00 PM
Suzan Shown Harjo

The boarding school system was viewed as an alternative to killing all Indians - a goal which proved both illusory and too costly - and was supported by both the “civilizationists” and many “exterminationists.” Enforcing an English-only/Christian-only curriculum with corporal punishment, boarding schools immersed hostage-students in “Civilization” and isolated them from their people, cultures, languages, values, lands, waters, and ways, while using them to control their strong families at home. Generations of Suzan Shown Harjo’s family survived these schools, but some did not. Join Suzan to discuss the impact of these schools on those who attended them and on Native Peoples today.

Suzan Shown Harjo (Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee) is an effective advocate for Native Peoples’ treaty, human, and civil rights, who has helped recover more than one million acres of Native lands. Also a poet, writer, lecturer, and curator, she lived in New York City and worked at the Pacifica Network’s free speech flagship, WBAI-FM radio station, where she was the first woman department head responsible for filling one-third of the air time with arts and cultures programming. She co-produced the first national Native news show with her husband, Frank Ray Harjo (1947-1982).

In 1974, her family moved to D.C., where she was news director of the American Indian Press Association and then worked on national policy issues for the National Congress of American Indians, where she later served as executive director, and for the Native American Rights Fund. A political appointee and legislative liaison in the administration of President Jimmy Carter, she coordinated the yearlong review and reports of the 1978 American Indian Religious Freedom Act.

Harjo is founding president of The Morning Star Institute, a national Native rights organization, and a founding trustee of the National Museum of the American Indian. She began work in the 1960s to protect sacred places, to free ancestral remains and cultural patrimony from collectors, and to end “Indian” stereotyping and mascoting in advertising, sports, and place names. By the time the Washington NFL team ended its former name in 2020, most of the “Indian” names and mascots in sports were removed, but many remain and continue to be challenged.

In 2014, President Barack Obama awarded her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States' highest civilian honor.

The Sassoons: The Great Global Merchants and the Making of an Empire

December 5, 2023 11:00 AM
Joseph Sassoon

The influential merchants of the 19th and early 20th centuries shaped the globalization of today. The Sassoons, a Baghdadi-Jewish trading family, built a global trading enterprise by taking advantage of major historical developments during the 19th century. Their story is not just one of an Arab Jewish family that settled in India, traded in China, and aspired to be British; it also presents an extraordinary vista into the world in which they lived and prospered economically, politically, and socially. The Sassoons is not only about their rise, but also about their decline: why it happened, how political and economic changes after the First World War adversely affected them, and finally, how realizing their aspirations to reach the upper echelons of British society led to their disengagement from business and prevented them from adapting to the new economic and political world order. Join us to hear Joseph Sassoon talk about the globe-spanning history of a fascinating family.

Joseph Sassoon is a Professor of History and Political Economy at Georgetown University and holds the al-Sabah Chair in Politics and Political Economy of the Arab World. He is also a Senior Associate Member at St Antony’s College, Oxford. In 2013, his book Saddam Hussein’s Ba‘th Party: Inside an Authoritarian Regime (Cambridge University Press, 2012) won the prestigious British-Kuwait Prize for the best book on the Middle East. Sassoon completed his Ph.D. at St Antony’s College, Oxford. He has published extensively on Iraq and its economy and on the Middle East. His fifth book is titled: The Sassoons: The Great Global Merchants and the Making of an Empire (Pantheon, 2022).

Some past presenters from our Virtual Speaker Series have allowed us to record their presentations.
Those recordings are available to the public

If you or someone you know would like to be a speaker in the future, please email