Lenora Fulani Profile

For over three decades, Lenora Fulani has tirelessly crusaded against social injustice and political corruption. The spirited development psychologist is perhaps best known for her political career as an independent candidate, including two runs for President in 1988 and 1992 in which she became the first woman and first African-American to appear on the ballot in all 50 states.

Growing-up in the highly segregated town of Chester, PA, she watched her father die because no ambulance would come to her poor, African-American neighborhood. This, along with the firing of a gay choir director at her church, shaped her desire to address injustice. She won a scholarship to attend Long Island’s Hofstra University, which she graduated from in 1971. She went on to earn a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Teachers College and a Ph.D. in developmental psychology from the City University of New York, where she was much influenced by Dr. Fred Newman, who would serve as both a mentor and her campaign manager.

A transparent voice for the interests of African-Americans and the most struggling economic groups in the U.S., Dr. Fulani has walked her talk. As Senior Program Advisor of the All Stars Project, she has helped spearhead programs using a unique performatory approach that has taught thousands of young adults how to go “beyond themselves” and acquire new capabilities in the process. In her vocal campaign to restructure the U.S. two-party political system – which she claims does not serve America’s disadvantaged people or minority races – Dr. Fulani has gone to court more than ten times in the last 20 years to open up the ballot to insurgents and independents.

Her gutsy moves and inspiring presence has attracted media attention again and again throughout her 30-year-plus career of fearless activism. In addition to being featured on hundreds of mainstream television news programs, Dr. Fulani’s writings are regularly published in various media outlets.

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    Lenora Fulani is the country’s leading black political independent. A developmental psychologist and founder of the country’s flagship youth development program, the All-Stars Project, she is best known for her two runs for the presidency as an independent in 1988 and 1992.

    In 1988 Dr. Fulani became the first African American and first woman to run for the presidency and appear on the ballot in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. After the 1992 elections, Fulani helped launch a joint effort with the Perot movement (Perot joined the cause later) to create a multiracial, pro-reform, national political party. In 2004, she spearheaded the Choosing an Independent President 2004 (“ChIP”) process through which independent voters came together— not as a political party—but as a movement of Americans who share a commitment to reform the political process. ChIP was influential in Ralph Nader’s decision to run as an independent coalitional candidate for president.

    A longtime agitator for black political independence, Fulani has often sparked controversy with her unorthodox views on black voters and electoral politics. The prevailing view is that black interests are inextricably tied to the Democratic Party, a view Fulani passionately disputes. As a leader of New York’s Independence Party, her efforts reached a new level of accomplishment in 2005, when 47% of black voters in New York City broke with tradition and voted for the Independent/Republican Mike Bloomberg for mayor.

    The daughter of a baggage carrier on the Pennsylvania Railroad and a nurse, Lenora was raised in Chester, PA. A youth leader in the Baptist church and in high school government, she won a scholarship to Hofstra University on Long Island. She pursued graduate studies at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College and the City University of New York, where she earned a Ph.D in developmental psychology. From 1973-1977, she worked as a guest researcher at Rockefeller University, specializing in the interplay of social environment, and learning with a particular focus on the black community. At Rockefeller, she decided the problems facing ordinary Americans of all communities required her to do more than just study them.

    Since that time, she has combined a career as a psychologist and a social activist. As Chair of the Committee for a Unified Independent Party, Fulani has brought thousands of Americans—including young people—into activism as independent voters. As Senior Program Advisor of the All Stars Project, she has helped spearhead programs using a unique performatory approach that teaches young adults how to go “beyond themselves” and acquire new capabilities in the process.

    Fulani has been an ardent crusader for structural political reform such as term limits, ballot access reform, and same day voter registration. Her two presidential runs inspired political reforms—among them legislative initiatives in Congress and a reform of Federal Electoral Commission regulations for candidate debate sponsorship. Fulani has gone to court more than ten times in the last 20 years to open up the ballot to insurgents and independents, protect the rights of political and racial minorities in the electoral process, and to challenge unconstitutional state regulations which limit the growth of minor parties.

    Dr. Fulani has been a featured guest on countless TV and radio programs including: Business Unusual, Crossfire, The McNeil-Lehrer Report, Hardball with Chris Matthews, The Larry King Show, Inside Politics, Washington Journal, Charlie Rose, Road to the White House, America After Hours, Primetime Justice, Inside City Hall, BET’s Nightly News, McCreary Report, Geraldo!, Tom Synder, the Jim Bohannon radio show, and NPR’s Democracy Now. She is the author of hundreds of articles and op eds on politics and current affairs which regularly appear in print.

    Her personal account of her 1992 presidential campaign, The Making of A Fringe Candidate 1992 (Castillo International). She is also the editor of The Psychopathology of Everyday Racism & Sexism (Harrington Park Press) and has presented papers at numerous conferences, including: “Political Socialization as Supplementary Education: How Performing and Creating New Identities Helps Black Children Learn and Develop,” at the National Invitational Conference on Supplementary Education in Washington, D.C. and “Discord, Discourse and Development” at the Humphrey Institute Policy Forum, sponsored by former Congressman Tim Penny.

    Political Chronology and Candidacies

      • 2005—assembled “Bloomberg on ‘C’ Coalition,” a network of black and Latino community leaders, who ganized and inspired an unprecedented 47% of African American voters to vote for Independent/Republican Mike Bloomberg
      • 2004—leading advocate for Ralph Nader’s candidacy for President as an independent
      • 2003—championed a referendum on nonpartisan municipal voting in New York City
      • 2002—elected to the statewide Executive Committee of the Independence Party of New York
      • 2001—spearheaded a drive in which 25% of the African American voters of New York City voted for Mayor Michael Bloomberg
      • 1999—won 46% of the vote in race for Reform Party Vice Chair position in Dearborn, Michigan
      • 1998—part of a team that organized over 100 New Yorkers, many under the age of 30, to run for the Independence Party State Committee
      • 1998—re-elected to State Committee of the Independence Party
      • 1997—founding member of the national Reform Party; chair of the platform committee on education
      • 1997—led youth voter registration drive in New York that registered over 8,000 new voters
      • 1996—elected to State Committee of the Independence Party
      • 1996—campaigned nationally for the Perot/Choate ticket
      • 1994—campaigned for ballot status for the Independence Party of New York
      • 1994—founding member of the national Patriot Party, one of 110 delegates representing 23 states
      • 1994—co-founder of the Committee for a Unified Independent Party (“CUIP”); a think tank and initiative center for independent politics
      • 1994—received 21% of the vote in Democratic primary for New York Governor
      • 1992—independent candidate for President of the United States. Qualified for ballots in 40 states and received federal matching funds
      • 1990—independent New Alliance Party candidate for Governor of New York
      • 1988—independent candidate for President of the United States. Qualified for federal matching funds and appeared on the ballots of all 50 states becoming first African American and first woman to do so
      • 1988—New Alliance Party Chair
      • 1986—independent New Alliance Party candidate for Governor of New York
      • 1985—independent New Alliance Party candidate for Mayor of New York City
      • 1982—independent New Alliance Party candidate for Lt. Governor of New York

Lenora Fulani Speaking Videos

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Lenora Fulani's Speech Descriptions

Dr. Fulani opens up vital conversations about the roles of black Americans, minorities, and other “outsiders” in today’s political climate. Presenting compelling arguments built on facts, studies, and events, she debunks common myths on race, poverty, and “equality” in regard to the U.S. and its current political arena. Dr. Fulani provides a riveting call to action and clear-cut steps individuals and communities can take toward establishing true democracy and reversing the socio-economic crisis that is expanding day-by-day in the world’s wealthiest nation.

Suggested Speaking Topics:

    • Black America Goes Independent
    • New Trends in Voter Alignment: Why Americans Consider Themselves Independents
    • Women Can’t Change Anything: They Can Only Change Everything
    • Growing Up Black, Female, and Independent
    • Utilizing Controversiality to Grow the Independent Movement

What People are Saying about Seeing Lenora Speak

Rating Entries

“Dr. Fulani′s lecture was not only timely and provocative, but it provided an opportunity for Vanderbilt students to really think about our political system, its problems, and potential solutions. Dr. Fulani challenged the audience to abandon dated notions about what consists of our electoral and policy making institution and to create new alternatives that include Americans in coalitions, instead of excluding them.”
   Eleanor Fleming, Vanderbilt University

“It was a pleasure hearing from and meeting Dr. Fulani… Dr. Fulani introduced a new perspective on electoral politics. We normally spend a lot of time arguing about Democrat or Republican and forget the most important thing – the people. Dr. Fulani reminds us that a vote is a voice, and we have to use it to express what is important to us and to hold our elected officials accountable.”
    Alison Moore, Black Law Students Assn., Columbia University Law School

“Thank you for your participation in the Black Political Issues Forum 2000. It certainly would not have been successful without your dynamism, intellectual fervor, and passionate retorts. As we discussed, I would like to make the forum an annual event, and I would absolutely love to have you back again, and again!”
    Delonte Gholston, President, Swarthmore College Democrats

“… very, very thought provoking discussion. Many students stayed after and continued to ask questions. Usually students are content to listen and not think for themselves…”
    Paula Harrell, Faculty, North Carolina Central University

“I wish the halls of Congress could have such an environment with room for dialogue, debate and disagreement…”
    Former Minnesota Congressman Tim Penny, at the 23rd Annual Pan-African Student Leadership Conference at Mankato State University

“Dr. Fulani was a captivating speaker who, through the use of personal experiences, political anecdotes and disturbing statistics, inspired students to seek alternatives to the status quo. She was refreshingly accessible in her interaction with the audience. People will leave believing in the necessity of a third political party in the U.S.”
    Erin Culbertson, Organization of Women Leaders, Princeton University

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Books by Lenora Fulani:


The Psychopathology of Everyday Racism and Sexism (Women & Therapy Series)
In this enlightening book, women of color eloquently and honestly articulate the impact of racism, sexism, and poverty on their personal lives and on the histories of their people. They express anger at the failure of traditional psychiatry and psychology—which tend to advocate assimilation, meaning the denial of one’s cultural and historical identity—to understand the struggles and problems in their lives.

The contributors to The Psychopathology of Everyday Racism and Sexism—who come from both inside and outside the psychological disciplines—examine newer therapies in which women are encouraged to identify and express emotional reactions to other people, racism, and abuse and to expose the humiliation they feel. These new therapeutic processes—representing a milestone in psychological theory and practice—help women of color develop their historical identity and reject socially-induced shame and degredation.

The editor of this vital book is Lenora Fulani, a developmental psychologist and an active political leader. Dr. Fulani explores how a lack of power over one’s life and deprivation of a sense of oneself as historical are commonly associated with psychological problems. The added stress of low social status, sexual exploitation, poverty, abuse, and drug and alcohol problems, result in an enormous sense of failure and incredible vulnerability to emotional stress. With passion and compassion, The Psychopathology of Everyday Racism and Sexism advocates an empowering sense of community based on the power of and love for the oppressed.

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