She has worked to improve the participation of women of color as a program director at the National Organization for Women and is recognized, along with 11 others, for coining the term “reproductive justice” – a combination of “reproductive rights” and “social justice”. In response to what they believed was missing from Bill Clinton’s plan for health care reform in 1994.
Later, as director of program and research for the Center for Democratic Renewal, which monitored hate groups, she found herself on top of a mountain in rural Tennessee, teaching anti-racism to women whose families were members of the Ku Klux Klan.
She thought about what the founder of her organization, Reverend CT Vivian – who had been Martin Luther King’s field general – told her when she started her job: “When you ask people to give up hate , you have to be there for them when they do. “
And she was.
In the early 1990s, Professor Ross accompanied Floyd Cochran, once a national spokesperson for the Aryan nations, on a national atonement tour.
“Here’s a guy who had never done anything other than being a Nazi since he was 14, and now he was 35 with no job, no education, no hope. And we’ve helped people like them, ”she says. After the Los Angeles Times wrote an article about their unlikely friendship in 1997, Professor Ross and Mr Cochran each received $ 10,000 for an option to adapt their story to Hollywood. But when the script returned, there was one fatal flaw: it ended with the two falling in love.
“Floyd was married and I didn’t fall in love with the Nazis,” Professor Ross said.
During those years, Professor Ross found herself on a street corner in Janesville, Wisconsin, in the dead of winter, watching Ken Peterson – a KKK defector – film an interview with “The Geraldo Rivera.” Show”. Mr. Peterson and his wife, Carol, had to flee their home quickly and Ms. Peterson was shaking with cold.