Activists rising: 35 and under

We're Still Here: Community Activists

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This edition of the AFRO’s“We’re Still Here” series is dedicated to community activists, past and present. Pictured above are activists Regan Farley, left, and Ron Jeffries, right, who are determined to make a difference in their community and in the world, standing on the shoulders of those who are also featured in this edition. (Photo by Aisha Butler)

While the AFRO commemorates community activists of the past, the D.M.V. has a great deal of young people marching, organizing, giving back, mentoring and positively influencing their neighborhoods, cities, nation and the world. 

In November 2020, the AFRO reached out to the community, through our website, paper and social media asking for people to nominate young activists under 35.  The following list is an amalgamation of the young people nominated, as they share their journey into activism, current work and passion for making a difference.  

The AFRO salutes all those working towards equity and justice for people of color, and will continue telling the stories of community activists as they continue to inspire change and make history.  If you know of young activists that should be highlighted, please send a nomination to editor@afro.com, as we plan for next year’s list.

Zyah Brown, Age: 9

Title(s)/ Activist Role 

Equality/Racial Activist and Emcee

How would you describe your activism? 

I would describe my activism as teaching and inspiring through my rhymes and actions. I feel that words are the most powerful weapon when getting your point across and being heard. I was always taught to use your voice for the greater good and I do that with music and spoken word/poetry.

What sparked your activism? 

My activism was really sparked by me just wanting to help all people. Equality to me is basic, if we get rid of racism and hate. No matter your color, party, or past etc, you should feel cared about and that you matter. In a verse on my song, “Our Generation,” I say, “All lives are supposed to matter, black lives too, you just can’t forget that factor!” I truly believe that. Everybody matters and I feel like, when people are shown that you care about them or what they’ve been through and where they’re going, you get people feeling better. They feel better about themselves and you. If that can pass down to and from every person, all that to me equals peace! The world would be a better place for all of us!

How does your activism influence the community, those you’re advocating for and the people you hope to serve? 

I feel like my activism influences my community to get out there and do whatever they can to help. Since I’m 9, I want people to see me out in the community and on Instagram giving back, trying to help, and be motivated to help or start their own thing and help in their own way. I want people who I help, to feel like they matter and know that somebody cares about them. I want them to know that they matter and are important. That’s also why I speak for everybody. If I can rhyme about a story that other kids or people relate to, I don’t mind letting people know about struggles that I’ve gone through. Or the best in my life to inspire kids to do what they love or adults to listen to the youth because we have a lot to say.

Who are some of the activists that influence you and why? 

Some of the activists that influence me locally are Nee Nee Taylor with Black Lives Matter-DC. Nee Nee influences me to fight for what’s right and never settle, if it’s not right! She has taken me under her wing, to show and lead me when it comes to activism. Nationally, Tamika Mallory influences me to make my voice heard, to anyone and everyone. She has made me feel and knows that I can make a difference in the world. She has told me that I am the future and I won’t let her down!

How can others follow your work or join your movement? 

Everyone can follow me on Instagram @fly.zyah

I post all my activism and inspirational music on there!

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Zoe Lashley  Age: 11

Title(s)/ Activist Role 

Artist, Art Activist, CEO of The Rep & Community Philanthropist

How would you describe your activism? 

I love the arts and use the arts to express myself. I empower other youth in my neighborhood to follow their dreams and express what they believe in through creating.

What sparked your activism? 

My mom took me to my first march when I was 7 years old and I created a protest sign for equal pay for women in the workplace and I felt empowered.

How does your activism influence the community, those you’re advocating for and the people you hope to serve? 

I love my community kids arts program, 901 Arts. Because of my teachers at 901 Arts I learned to be confident as an artist and they gave me my first art scholarship to take classes at MICA. From that experience, I launched an art business called The Rep, www.therepbyzoe.com and received $1,500 from the Baltimore Orioles for my community service work and I decided to give all of the money to my community arts program 901 Arts to help other kids in my community attend art camps that they would not be able to afford during the summer. I believe in helping my community. I was so happy to be able to help other youth to express themselves through the arts.

Who are some of the activists that influence you and why? 

Kwame Love and Martin Luther King. They both believe in non violence activism and they both believe in working towards peace.

How can others follow your work or join your movement? 

They can visit my website www.therepbyzoe.com  I think everyone should find a child to mentor and encourage. I have great mentors including Mr. Lewis my 4H advisor and Ms. Munday my MICA art teacher. You never know how you can change someone’s life.

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Zada Smallwood Age: 18

Title(s)/ Activist Role 

Teen activist

How would you describe your activism? 

I would describe my activism as getting my voice heard for my community and doing as much as I can to influence change. Even when there isn’t an opportunity to organize protests or attend protests, posting on social media and speaking to those around me is a big part of what I do personally.

What sparked your activism? 

The growing cases of police brutality against black and brown people sparked my activism. There was no justice being served for any victims of police brutality and I knew I had to speak out against it.

How does your activism influence the community, those you’re advocating for and the people you hope to serve? 

My activism influences my community because I’m fighting for change to benefit my community and those I’m advocating for. My biggest belief is to be the change you want to see in the world.

Who are some of the activists that influence you and why? 

Martin Luther King Jr. has been a big influence and most recently, he was a main influence for the decision to hold the MLK protest at his memorial this past summer where hundreds of people gathered there to speak out against the injustices against black and brown communities. Also, the Black Lives Matter movement activists influenced me as well because they are so passionate about getting change and they strive to influence others and influence change.

How can others follow your work or join your movement? 

Others can join the movement by following news sources that advocate for black and brown communities and speaking up whenever they can. This can be as simple as talking with a coworker or as big as organizing a protest.

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Aniyah Vines Age: 20

Title(s)/ Activist Role 

Activist, Howard University’s NAACP President, Founder of The Live Movement, CEO of T.R.A.P. Inc (Non-Profit Organization)

How would you describe your activism? 

I would describe my activism as purposeful, realizing that on the frontlines I am not only representing myself but a child of God and my ancestors that came before me. I am fighting not only for myself but the generations coming after me, my future lineage, my community. My activism isn’t only on the streets but also in the classroom, as I prepare to go into Law School and help further the betterment of my community in the courtroom.

What sparked your activism? 

At the age of 16 my cousin Delrawn Smalls was murdered by an off-duty police officer in Brooklyn, New York. Being so young in age I did not know how I could help the fight for social justice, but I knew at that moment that it was my responsibility to at least try. Since then I have led Gun Violence Awareness walkouts, started my own non-profit in Charlotte N.C. called T.R.A.P. Inc (True Rehabilitation and Prosperity), and started an organization in Washington D.C. called The Live Movement. I am also majoring in Political Science at Howard University, and upon graduation I plan to attend Law School.

How does your activism influence the community, those you’re advocating for and the people you hope to serve? 

My activism influences the community by advocating not only for justice in regards to police brutality, but also educational inequality in America. During the era of chattel slavery the oppressors knew that the mind was the first thing that had to be broken in order to control the slave, so through The Live Movement we are advocating on the importance of black education, and breaking the generational chains in our community’s mind. We have several departments within The Live Movement: One that focuses on mutual aid in wards 8,7, and 5, another that focuses on educational legislation and policy, and lastly one that focuses on large scale initiatives that connect HBCU’s nationwide.

Who are some of the activists that influence you and why? 

There are many strong and influential activists that came before me, but to name a few: 

-Kathleen Cleaver

-Ida B. Wells

-Septima Clark 

-Francis Welsing

-Ella Baker

These phenomenal women went against the stereotypes of “the black women” by speaking up no matter who was around, and being knowledgeable enough to go toe-to-toe with any man, black or white. They remind me to be fearless, resilient and 100% invested into this movement for life.

How can others follow your work or join your movement? 

Please follow both my personal and organization’s instagram @aniyah.vines and @_thelivemovement. You can also visit our website www.thelivemovement.live and become a TLM member, the fight for social justice and educational equity will require all hands on deck!

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Antonio Moore Age: 21

Title(s)/ Activist Role 

“Lor Tone” At Risk Youth Leader, Rising Social Entrepreneur

How would you describe your activism? 

Working with grassroots organization  Challenge 2 Change, Engaging in hands on violence interruption, direct violence deterrence with high risk youth in East Baltimore. Using my growing network and connections to national platforms like Everytown for Gun Safety , and Johns Hopkins to bring awareness and resources back to the youth in my neighborhood. 

 Using my natural gift of influence, connection to the streets/community, and visibility to the youth of the city. Showing life as a young entrepreneur,  leader and stand up guy with a platform.

What sparked your activism? 

My generation is dying, and not living. Not bad but broken. Misguided and hopeless. Like most teenagers in Baltimore, my years as a teenager figuring out life was a series of bad decisions and mistakes. After turning my life around through leadership and entrepreneurship (s/o to HeartsmilesMD) I realized my natural gift of influence , insight in the minds of youth was powerful. And used it to outthink my surroundings  and help other young men do the same. Other young people have the power to help break harmful patterns.  My generation is so full of promise. Connecting and building with the other rare gem young leaders and entrepreneurs across the city and country is key.

How does your activism influence the community, those you’re advocating for and the people you hope to serve? 

Using the right platforms to reach young people , making the right connections, decision makers to bring opportunities and resources to those most at risk is powerful. Helping in breaking the normal seeming  harmful patterns and way of life for young men in Baltimore. A young stand up guy with a platform has the ability to inspire change and hope for a city like Baltimore.

Who are some of the activists that influence you and why? 

People like Jay Z , are some of my biggest inspirations. Using his business acumen to navigate corporate America, and influence to inspire those in the dark, neglected hoods of America who are born out of reach from the social mobility ladder to lead the people without losing them.

How can others follow your work or join your movement? 

My Instagram; @lorr_tone , YouTube channel ; “thewyashow the flip project”

Anything else you’d like to add?

To the youth in the hoods across America you are powerful beyond measure. The world is ours. My words, truth have proved moving and thought provoking to young people. But thought provoking conversations also left lasting impressions on now Vice President elect Kamala Harris,  20th US Surgeon General Jerome Adams, 2020 Presidential candidate Andrew Yang , among many other country leaders .I have an interest in Gen Z Minority Consulting and Marketing.

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Joshua Turner Age: 21

Title(s)/ Activist Role 

Co- Founder and Director of B.R.E.A.T.H.E

How would you describe your activism? 

My primary focus is on creating concrete legislative solutions in order to tear down systems of white supremacy in order to save black lives born and unborn. I accomplish this by galvanizing and creating energy behind such bills combining social pressure with lobbying and legislative pressure. 

What sparked your activism? 

From an early age I always wanted to help and serve my community. The murder of Freddie Gray and countless others thrusted me head first into the fight for Black Liberation. The U.S. has been called the land of freedom a misnomer and complete converse of our present reality. The black condition is one that has been slow to vertical progression but no stranger to regression and stagnacity, held down and pushed back by systemic racism, and abuse. 

Calls for justice for those of us that have been mayrted for black liberation is more than just arresting the cops, arresting the cops would work if it was only a few cops that were bad, but it’s the system itself that is cloaked in racism and white supremacy; requiring that we enact real systemic change in order to save black lives. In the words of Huey Newton “The policemen or soldiers are only a gun in the establishment’s hand. They make the racist secure in his racism.” Meaning the police themselves have killed black people but the system perpetuates, thrives and officiates the battering of our people. 

In order for us to reach change, we must become the change that we seek; we must take those steps and bring forth a new status quo that does not brutalize and systemically kill our people. Requiring us to address the issues of police brutality, gun violence, mid education, the prison industrial complex and all other forms of systemic racism at its roots.

How does your activism influence the community, those you’re advocating for and the people you hope to serve? 

I believe that my form of activism provides further insight to the community on how the system works furthermore, it has helped galvanize young people to create root cause solutions that will save black lives, by me being so young it beat back against the saying that young people are the future when we have the ability and capacity to be the leaders and problem solvers of today.

Who are some of the activists that influence you and why? 

I am most inspired by Malcom X, Huey Newton, MLK, and Nelson Mandela. All of them were powerful people pushing for black liberation in their own way showing that this fight had many different aspects but all of them need to be addressed at its roots.

How can others follow your work or join your movement? 

They connect and join the movement by following me on Instagram @breatheofficialpage 

@joshua_turnerofficial

They can also read my articles on the Afro

Anything else you’d like to add?

We can no longer wait for our shackles to simply fall off, the fight for liberation will require us to fashion our own tools for our liberation and put those tools to use. Requiring us to fight in the American Courts and Halls of injustice, the streets, our classrooms and at our workplace. We all have a role to play in this fight. We all have the ability to not only manifest the change we seek but to become that change; making justice not a distant dream or theoretical concept but our reality. 

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Rahim Age: 21

Title(s)/ Activist Role 

Abolitionist

How would you describe your activism? 

I would describe my activism as direct action. Through hands on mutual aid or goggles on to protect my eyes from police pepper spray. Outside of reactionary protests I help with many different forms of community solidarity such as an Occupy DC coat drive or feeding families in need with Earl’s 1st Amendment Grill or a toy drive with Freedom Fighters DC. I also put my life on the line to express my 1st amendment rights to protest and free speech. Although it is well within our rights to assemble in protest, it does come with consequences. There are times when we are wrongfully arrested and charged with crimes we did not commit. But that’s an experience many Black people face outside of protesting. That’s a reality we live with everyday, because of that harsh truth many Black people can’t put their livelihood on the line and protests which is why I continue to. I protest for those who cannot. I use my voice and my freedom for people who don’t have access to these same rights. I help organize rallies and demonstrations mainly focused on abolishment of policing.

What sparked your activism? 

Learning Black history is what sparked my activism. When we look at all the times throughout United States history where Black people have struggled through legal racism like slavery, the “war on drugs”, Black codes, being targeted by the police state which feeds the prison industry it sparks a fire inside me to do something.

How does your activism influence the community, those you’re advocating for and the people you hope to serve? 

My activism gives people hope. I inspire people to do something positive with their lives. To be a young Black boy from DC and grow up to be somebody known for something good outside of sports or rap is rare. Anybody who is “somebody” in DC is known for rapping, sports or their street business. In DC we see a lot at a young age so we grow up fast and get stuck in our ways at a young age. Everyday I’m growing and learning how to use my life to improve the lives of others and of course help my own life. I know when I go out and do my work, that kids see that and understand that there is still good products of our environment to look up to. I’m from North East DC, I didn’t grow up in section 8 but I come from the bottom of the bottom and I’m not ashamed. I represent the real DC and that’s the community I serve and work to bring about change for daily.

Who are some of the activists that influence you and why? 

Some activists that influence me are of course big names like Fred Hampton and Malcom X thanks to their contributions they paved a way for young voices like me to feel confident in my activism. But there are people still alive with us today who make huge impacts on the community like Joella Roberts for example. Joella is undocumented and “un-afraid” and has put her livelihood on the line for several years to voice her frustration with both American immigration policies and the over policing of Black people. Joella is not a full citizen of the United States but has been here since she was four years old, her livelihood is constantly at stake with presidential administrations deporting millions of people term after term. Joella founded Migration Matters, which is the first organization focused directly on immigration and undocumented students at any HBCU.  Regardless of the many barriers in her way Joella uses her voice for those who can’t, she’s a powerful young woman and her passion inspires me to keep fighting.

How can others follow your work or join your movement? 

If people want to join or help in anyway they can follow or message our social media pages: @Earls1st, @MigrationMattersudc, @freedomfighters, or @occupydc202

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Saba Tshibaka Age: 22

Title(s)/ Activist Role 

Lead Organizer & Co-Founder of Black Terps Matter

How would you describe your activism? 

I would describe my activism as leading by example. What I mean by this can easily be explained  through a recent action I was involved in. This past Sunday I drove to Georgia with two of my friends that currently go to Howard University. We are all college student organizers in different capacities but we Bond over our shared view of the importance of voting rights. We went to Georgia to stand in solidarity and support voting efforts throughout more than five different counties in the state. We believe that is the kind of action required to secure the Senate, which we very much need right now. We choose to act out these thoughts rather than delivery to our supporters with different types of marketing.

What sparked your activism? 

My activism was sparked when I became the president of the black student union freshman council at the University of Maryland, College Park. With that leadership experience I was able to see the dangers of unmotivated people. Only together can we rise up and wake up. Individual members of the community having all the information does no good for us. We need to be well-educated, and across the board. My activism was sparked again by becoming the president of the Black Honors Caucus  my sophomore year of college,  that is what I truly drove into history and started appreciating my culture as much as I could. My activism was sparked most recently by the response of the community when I was unlawfully arrested while at a sit-in opposing the nomination and appointment of Amy Barrett to the United States Supreme Court.

How does your activism influence the community, those you’re advocating for and the people you hope to serve? 

In my mind, my activism influences my friends and family around me the most. To all of them, I am a loving and caring person, as much as anyone else they know. It definitely shocked my family when they realized how involved I was in the black lives matter movement. I don’t blame them, I’ve always worked pretty independently at my goals and aspirations. I have a long-term goal of seeking liberation for the black community. That’s not something I get to talk about much, but I definitely acted out through the different  Community initiatives I work to organize with my friends and Associates. This year, I worked  on behalf of the organization Black Terps Matter  to organize Black Film Nights  so that we could come together as a community and appreciate another form of art off of social media. At those events we had voter registration Booth’s so that anyone could have the opportunity to register to vote if they were so pleased. That is  one way I hope to advocate for all of the vulnerable individuals that don’t have the opportunity to vote because of disenfranchisement, suppression, or racism.

Who are some of the activists that influence you and why? 

I am most influenced by A. Phillip Randolph, an organizer who helped put together the 1968 March on Washington. Other activists I admire are John Lewis, Aniyah Vines, Angela Davis, Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, and Harriet Tubman. All of these activists influence me because they are constantly seeking Liberation for the black communities regardless of what negativity may come towards them at any one point and the time that they were alive. They consistently fought, year after year-  when people begged them to stop.  Through my college experience, my friends and family have begged me to focus on my classes and to give the extracurricular activities a break, I could never stop working on the community though-  and I don’t regret it because that’s what brought me to this point. And I’m thankful to be here!

How can others follow your work or join your movement? 

Instagram

@SabaSpeaking

@Celestialsaba

@BlackTerpsMatter

Websites

https://www.sabaspeaking.com/

https://black-terps-matter.mailchimpsites.com/

Anything else you’d like to add?

Saba is a student leader involved in many groups and activities promoting diversity and inclusion. She spent three years in various clubs’ executive boards, two years as a tutor with the Academic Achievement Program, and a year as a manager at the College Park Black-owned business, Milk & Honey. She has also held internships with the U.S. Department of Treasury and Google Inc.

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Joella Roberts Age: 23

Title(s)/ Activist Role 

UndocuActivist / organizer / founder / University Program Coordinator

How would you describe your activism? 

Racial justice and educational equity

What sparked your activism? 

My activism was sparked by my own personal experience and wanting for my community. I was tired of being shut out of opportunities because of where I was born.  Tired of sexism, colorism, fatphobia, all of it. I know that my story is different but it isn’t a monolith in the system that we live in. I’m committed to changing that.

How does your activism influence the community, those you’re advocating for and the people you hope to serve? 

There aren’t many Black undocumented people who are open about their struggle. This is because that’s an added layer of oppression, struggle, and judgement. I am vocal about my success and struggles to inspire others to do the same. Also to spread knowledge about the struggles of my community, because Black people are usually invisible when it comes to immigration, yet we suffer from this system the most. When you combine that with the criminal justice system, racism, poverty and all other things it’s a struggle. Audre Lorde said our silence will not save us. That’s why I’ve been on the frontline of the BLM movement here in DC making sure my community is centered.  I want to do the work and also inspire others to join in. A lot of people will message me and say they are undocumented and trying to go to college and my story inspires them, or their parents are immigrants and they didn’t all the things that was going on.

Who are some of the activists that influence you and why? 

Rahim Ballard because he has always been on the frontlines advocating for our community. 

Nee Nee from Black Lives Matter because she embraces new Black organizers in DC. 

Trinice McNally because she inspired me to be brave and found Migration Matters on the campus of UDC.

I have sooooooooo many organizers that influence me.

How can others follow your work or join your movement? *

They can follow me on Instagram at @joellaaa_ or my organization’s page @MigrationMattersUDC. They can also email me to build campus plans or plug into the work we are doing.

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  • Lamar Prilliman-Richards Age: 25

Title(s)/ Activist Role 

Board of Directors of New Song Academy & Founder of New Uniform Initiative.

How would you describe your activism? 

I never quite looked at myself as an activist, instead as someone who spoke on issues that affected the most vulnerable, as someone who refused to be silent in the face of injustice and someone who felt the need to make a small but meaningful difference in this large world.

What sparked your activism? 

Witnessing injustice. Understanding that a successful life cannot be without service to others. Understanding that many of the most vulnerable, the down-trodden, the poor — those who are most on the margins most times needs a fighter, a voice, and someone who will be unapologetic about addressing the issues of the time.

How does your activism influence the community, those you’re advocating for and the people you hope to serve? 

I believe that it helps by shining a light on issues that have long affected Baltimore City and places like it around the country. I have made it my business to make education my primary focus. I believe that education is the great equalizer and with that we can close the wealth gap, begin to end systemic racism, and address the disparities across the spectrum including criminal justice reform.

Who are some of the activists that influence you and why? 

Most of the activists that have influenced were during the Civil Rights Movement. They were men and women by the names of Ralph Abernathy, Medgar Evers, Harry Belafonte, President Kennedy, Thurgood Marshall, James Meredith, Fannie Lou Hammer, Corretta Scott King, and Dorothy Height. They blazed trails, kicked down doors, integrated our education, law, political and business institutions that had long  stonewalled African Americans. They did this while being beaten, spat on, cursed, arrested, and attacked by dogs. I stand on their shoulders.

How can others follow your work or join your movement? 

Facebook by typing my name in. Also emailing me at lamarprilliman@icloud.com about opportunities to come to the West Side of Baltimore to join me in helping some of the most hard working, integrity filled people one could ever 

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  • Ty Hobson-Powell Age: 25

Title(s)/ Activist Role 

Community Organizer

How would you describe your activism? 

I’m fighting for a new more equitable social contract to govern the way that we live our lives.

What sparked your activism? 

I was radicalized by growing up decidedly Black in a world that attempted to marginalize me for that very same Blackness. Seeing the conditions that so many people are subjected to inspires me to want to fight to create systems of change for us all.

How does your activism influence the community, those you’re advocating for and the people you hope to serve? 

I hope that my activism influences all who bear witness to love radically. I believe that ultimately a revolution of radical love across the board will go much farther than a revolution of radical politics on either side of the ideological spectrum ever could. 

Who are some of the activists that influence you and why? 

Of course there are historical heroes to admire but I’m inspired by my peers, especially those who remain nameless but continue to do the work. The ones who never get media interviews or honors. They remind me to constantly work to remove ego from my efforts in favor of centering the issues that matter most.

How can others follow your work or join your movement? 

Follow me on Instagram at @TyHobsonPowellDC and Twitter at @TyHobsonPowell. Follow my group on IG at @ConcernedCitizensDC

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Mahadi Lawal Age: 26

Title(s)/ Activist Role 

Organizer

How would you describe your activism? 

I organize and promote impactful actions within my community.

What sparked your activism? 

I have always been politically active since high school but I was influenced to become organized by the events of this year. Everything happening made me realize that we are really all we have and we need to build systems and resources for ourselves.

How does your activism influence the community, those you’re advocating for and the people you hope to serve? 

I participate in and promote mutual aid actions throughout the city. I have organized a political panel consisting of community leaders, activists and politicians to address the issues we face as a community. I have organized yoga, art and educational events directed towards those involved in the fight for black liberation.

Who are some of the activists that influence you and why? 

Bobby Seale, Angela Davis, Cori Bush, Fred Hampton, Malcolm X

How can others follow your work or join your movement? 

my instagram is @mahadi.inc and my organization is @occupydc202

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Markus Batchelor Age: 27

Title(s)/ Activist Role 

Vice President, DC State Board of Education

How would you describe your activism? 

I strive to work for opportunity and equity for everyone. I hope to follow in the footsteps of great movement-builders of past generations and work to make the bold ideas and shifts that previously seemed impossible, possible.

What sparked your activism? 

I got my start in activism as a student in high school, where I was involved early in student government, the fight for DC Statehood and as a member of the Marion Barry Youth Leadership Institute. Since then, I’ve worked for community-building non-profits like the Far Southeast Collaborative and People for the American Way, worked to help the government serve the underserved better in the Mayor’s Office of Community Affairs and — for the last 6 years — as an elected leader. I got elected to the Advisory Neighborhood Commission at 21 and as the youngest-ever elected member of the DC State Board of Education at 23.

How does your activism influence the community, those you’re advocating for and the people you hope to serve? 

I hope my activism makes my neighbors feel heard and empowered; that it improves their quality of life and sense of self; that it builds their love for community and encourages them to fight for it; that it breaks down barriers, stereotypes and misconceptions. I hope my activism makes a difference.

Who are some of the activists that influence you and why? 

I’ve learned a lot from the lives of leaders like Dr. King (and ever-present figure in my life — I grew up off of Martin Luther King Avenue and attended Martin Luther King Elementary School), James Baldwin, Barbara Jordan, Marion Barry, and Fred Hampton. Those and newer voices like Ayanna Pressley, Brandon Scott and Julian Castro elevate the most important conversations about human decency, freedom, power, and justice in our society and they have influenced my activism in many ways.

How can others follow your work or join your movement? 

Follow me on all social media @MarkusforDC and at MarkusBatchelor.com

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Komari Bailey Age: 29

Title(s)/ Activist Role 

Founder At The Humble Youth

How would you describe your activism? 

I would describe my activism as humbling.

What sparked your activism? 

Growing up I have always wanted to play an integral role in keeping our youth off the streets and doing something positive. Seeing kids, especially young African Americans grow up who are talented with no creative outlet or financial literacy inspired me to make a difference in our community.

How does your activism influence the community, those you’re advocating for and the people you hope to serve? 

The people who I intend to serve are our youth in the underprivileged and underserved community. With my Access, tools and skills that I have cultivated throughout my career, I intend to be a part of pushing the agenda of education reform and financial freedom. Since music has always been a catalyst for social activism and political movement throughout the years, it is my duty to educate our community to create, monetize and inspire each other.

Who are some of the activists that influence you and why? 

I have always been inspired by artists and athletes like Jay-Z, Muhammed Ali,  and Colin Kaepernick that have spoken up about social justice, police brutality, prison reform and education reform throughout the years. I believe  it is imperative for our African American idols to speak up about the ongoing adversities and oppression in our communities despite the repercussions.

How can others follow your work or join your movement? 

If you are interested, you can check us out at www.TheHumbleYouth.org and follow us on instagram @thehumbleyouthprogram

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Sheika Reid Age: 30

Title(s)/ Activist Role 

Committeewoman for the DC Democratic Party

How would you describe your activism? 

This year I worked tirelessly to support and sustain small businesses through my work with the U Street Main Street. I facilitated two grant cycles with 12 microgrants and supported small business owners in successfully applying for grants made available through the city and SBA. Additionally, I worked with the DC Young Democrats and the to facilitate dialogue with Councilmember Robert White on his initiative to restore the vote for returning and incarcerated citizens in the midst of the racial injustice and civil unrest this year. I also phonebanked for Ossoff and Warnock in Georgia. It was a powerful year for our city and this nation.

What sparked your activism? 

Growing up with a family that ran a small business, I saw the powerful impact that small businesses have on their communities. They work tirelessly to create spaces and serve communities often overlooked by corporate America. My mother and father’s (now deceased) business, Avanti Real Estate has enabled countless first time homebuyers to actualize their dreams and build intergenerational wealth. Many other brokers or agents would have overlooked so many of her hard-working clients, but she gave them hope and opened doors to the American dream. That’s radical within itself. But also she comes from a tradition of activism and being an agent of change in her community so she always inspired me to find ways to advocate for my community. That is why my work with DCYDs was invigorating and hopefully impactful during the riots and protests this year. This is a perfect example of taking the protest to the días.

How does your activism influence the community, those you’re advocating for and the people you hope to serve? 

Many business owners told me that without the programs that I facilitated and hard work to get them grants this year, they would have closed their doors permanently. It’s even more heartbreaking to see that many business owners in DC did close permanently. Although my work made me feel proud, there are so many other business owners who are in need of support which is why after leaving the U Street Main Street I have transitioned into a private practice of consulting with business owners and helping them deal with challenges.

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Ron Jeffries Age: 30

Title(s)/ Activist Role 

Culture Shifter/ Wardrobe Stylist

How would you describe your activism? 

I am actively shifting the culture of black men in Baltimore by being an agent of change and encouraging those around me. I grew up in poverty in Baltimore and now I have achieved so much. I am an entrepreneur, Forbes under 30 nominee, future attorney, actor and I encourage other black men like myself to do the same. I transform lives through the art of styling.

What sparked your activism? 

I was tired of seeing black men from my community not succeed and I decided it had to start with me

How does your activism influence the community, those you’re advocating for and the people you hope to serve? 

I hope my life does that. My story. My testimony of coming from nothing but against all odds achieving much

Who are some of the activists that influence you and why? 

Oh wow. Barack Obama, Kanye West, Steve Jobs, Pharrell Williams, Virgil. These men are not your traditional boots on the ground activist but these men shift and change cultures in their sphere of influence and that’s important

How can others follow your work or join your movement? 

On social media @thestylistguy and join the journey as I continue to set the bar and precedence for those who come behind me

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Regan Farley Age: 30

Title(s)/ Activist Role 

Publicist/Epilepsy Advocate

How would you describe your activism? 

Activism is having a desire to make changes in society toward a perceived greater good. As a Publicist, my mission is to create, innovate, and inspire in all aspects of life. My approach is to be non-traditional, allowing brands, businesses, and individuals to enlist my services to amplify their messages. Through my work, I use earned media to shift corporate narratives and create equal rights for black creatives within various industries. Also, ensuring that messages of disenfranchised populations are told through both traditional and new media platforms. Whether it is rallying for black-women entrepreneurs to be regarded on the level of their male counterparts, or  advocating for epilepsy awareness, serving the community is my life’s motto!

What sparked your activism? 

Serving the community has always been my passion, whether it was in the form of community service or an awareness initiative. At the age of 22,I  was diagnosed with Epilepsy, and I began to experience grand mal seizures. With minimal life changes, I realized not only was my family, host of friends, but my community lacked the knowledge of my diagnosis. 

What seemed like a minor setback made for a significant comeback. I became a Board Member for the Epilepsy Foundation of Maryland and championed lobbying initiatives that would change the outcome of individuals living with Epilepsy. Did you know 1 in 26 people live with the condition daily, and within the African American community, 375,000 develop the condition within their lifetime. 

As an entrepreneur myself, I believe in standing up to create change for business owners looking to build generational wealth.

How does your activism influence the community, those you’re advocating for and the people you hope to serve? 

As a Publicist, my job is to serve as the medium between the consumer and the client, to connect to the social issue through their practice of kindness. My form of activism influences the community by showing individuals in the community that we are unstoppable. Being an advocate for storytelling through digital spaces, press releases, and opinion pieces. Through my activism, people are inspired and they make a difference whether they serve as an Entertainer, Hospitality, Community Leader, HBCU President, or a millennial from my hometown Baltimore, Maryland! 

Who are some of the activists that influence you and why? 

As Mahatma Gandhi once said: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” I am influenced by anyone, yes anyone, who has the passion for helping others, that level of selflessness inspires me. Any form of being a change agent, utilizing their skill sets to stand-up for what they believe in, is wind blowing to me! 

Activists that I hold in high regard in relations to non-traditional activism are Deja Cromartie, Na’Asiaha Simon, Ariana Drummond, and  Donovan Mack to name a few within my industry. These individuals are on the ground, front, and centered changing lives with storytelling.  These individuals serve the purpose of getting in good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America one industry at a time. In addition to activists who may be a bit more notable such as  Naomi Wadler, Nipsey Hussle, Brittany Packnett, Kenya Parham, Tamika Mallory. I know that new age activism can look completely different and it’s simply about taking a stand-in for what you believe in.  The late Nipsey Hussle once said, “The highest human act is to inspire.” I believe in that phrase wholeheartedly. 

How can others follow your work or join your movement? 

I’m very active on social media. You can find me on platforms such as facebook, twitter , instagram  and clubhouse my handle is @raethepublicist. You can also visit my website for more updates on projects I’m currently working on reganfarley.com.

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Keyonna KAYEMJAY6’ Jones Age: 32

Title(s)/ Activist Role 

Executive Director Congress Heights Arts + Culture, Full Time Artist

How would you describe your activism? 

Guided by spirit, led through healing, expressed in art.

What sparked your activism? 

My personal healing.

How does your activism influence the community, those you’re advocating for and the people you hope to serve? *

It’s an opportunity for everyone to be their own catalyst for change + start the dominos effect that healing operates in.

How can others follow your work or join your movement? 

Support my nonprofit, Congress Heights Arts + Culture Center (www.chacc.org), IG @chacc_dc + my personal site (www.kayemjay6.com), IG @kayemjay6. My movement is about individual healing that creates space for so many other things to be healed.

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Chioma Iwuoha Age: 32

Title(s)/ Activist Role 

Co-Founder of Melanin Uprising

How would you describe your activism? 

Very Black and Youth Centered

What sparked your activism? 

My deep love for Black people sparked my activism. As a native Washingtonian, I wanted to fight for an equitable city that leaves no one behind.

How does your activism influence the community, those you’re advocating for and the people you hope to serve? 

I am a youth advocate. My role in the movement is to build and cultivate youth leadership so Black youth are heard and receive the change they advocate for.

Who are some of the activists that influence you and why? 

Black women in the movement. We often have to hold our families and community together while receiving little support. I am inspired by the resilience of all of them, even the ones in the shadows who don’t get their flowers.

How can others follow your work or join your movement? 

https://www.linkedin.com/mwlite/in/chioma-iwuoha-bab89814

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Sharece Crawford, 33

Title(s)/ Activist Role 

At Large Committeewoman/ Strategist

How would you describe your activism? 

There may not always be a solution but we can always create a strategy to our most pressing challenges.

What sparked your activism? 

Gun violence, poor health infrastructures, severe poverty in a wealthy nation and more made me realize that I had to rise up and speak out.

How does your activism influence the community, those you’re advocating for and the people you hope to serve? 

We’ve influenced people to get healthy and take charge of their communities. We’ve influenced people to vote and be apart of the political process.

Who are some of the activists that influence you and why? 

James Baldwin, Ella Baker, Shirley Chisholm, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Rev. James Bevel, Tamika Mallory, Trayon White to name a few. They are all from different errors but inspire us to take action.

How can others follow your work or join your movement? 

Stay connected at CrawfordatLarge and District Influencers.

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Dionna Marie Lewis, 33

Title(s)/ Activist Role 

Civil Rights Attorney

How would you describe your activism? 

My activism is unrelenting, inclusive of diverse causes, and equitable. I believe that apathy causes the greatest harm—it is the greatest threat to equity and inclusivity for all.

What sparked your activism? 

Growing up in the inner city of Washington, D.C. and matriculating through the D.C. Public School System, I experienced, but persisted, through inequities first-hand—yet I was young and did not know how to “fix it.” Around the age of 10 years old, I remember watching Law and Order (not SVU) and I realized that to be an advocate, I needed to go to law school. It was that moment when I decided in order to make change in my community, I needed to  be a legal advocate in my community. In middle school, my younger brother, who has special needs was born and he needed special care. As a family without a lot of resources, I had to silently watch, as my parents fought to get the world and the school system to pay attention to my brother and his needs. That broke my heart. I told myself then that not only would I go to law school, but I needed to be a civil rights lawyer so I could always be an advocate for my parents, my brother, and people who may not be the most learned or sophisticated so they that too, had someone in their corner, like I wish my parents had in theirs. I always keep that feeling of compassion in my heart. 

How does your activism influence the community, those you’re advocating for and the people you hope to serve? 

As a native Washingtonian, product of the public school system, byproduct of the inner city, and homeowner who proudly lives “East of the River,” my activism influences the community and those I am advocating for because they see me as someone they can identify with in some way or another, whose advocacy and activism is steeped in authenticity, which fosters trust, and permits me to forge relationships with people and communities that could be hard to reach, otherwise.

Who are some of the activists that influence you and why? 

Some of the activists that influence me are the historic works of Shirley Chisholm, Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, and Sadie T.M. Alexander; the current works of Representative Marcia L. Fudge and civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump. Each of these activists, past or present, have been community movers, shakers, and mobilizers. They have had, or are making, an indelible impact on the communities that they touch, in their respective professions, and have had a major role in shaping history.

How can others follow your work or join your movement? 

On Instagram at @missnativeDC and my law firm @districtlegalgroup; via email: info@DistrictLegalGroup.com

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Jennifer Blemur Age: 34

Title(s)/ Activist Role 

DC Young Democrats President

How would you describe your activism? 

My goal as the President of the DC Young Democrats has been to highlight politically-engaged young people, inform them about the key players in the political scene, and reach those previously not involved. In a city where the average is 34 years old, my work has been geared towards making sure that young people are not just swept along in the decisions that are made but are actually a part of the decision-making process.

What sparked your activism? 

A growing interest in policy moved me to become more active in the DC community. As a graduate of the David A. Clarke School of Law, I had the opportunity to represent DC residents in court. This experience showed me that we needed to have more diverse viewpoints in the policy rooms where legislation is being drafted. Political engagement is crucial in making sure that policies benefit all residents of DC.

How does your activism influence the community, those you’re advocating for and the people you hope to serve? 

I hope that my work with DC Young Democrats has drawn more young people into the political world of DC politics, especially those who may have felt outside of the reach. Additionally, my work as the Voter Registration and Education Chair with the Ward 5 Democrats has been able to ensure that residents of ward 5 had up to date election information.

Who are some of the activists that influence you and why? 

Elaine Brown is one of the activists that influences me because she brought to light the gender inequities within the Black Panther Party. While Black people, globally, continue to fight against the oppression of white supremacy, we should always be cognizant of sexism, classism, and xenophobia that threaten our progress as a people.

How can others follow your work or join your movement? 

Follow the DC Young Democrats at dcyds on social media

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Yasmin Salina Age: 34

Title(s)/ Activist Role 

CO-FOUNDER/EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

How would you describe your activism? 

I would describe my activism as a true disruptor to social norms. I believe in equitable opportunities for all.

What sparked your activism? 

Watching my parents dedicate their time to communities that they were a part of and associated with. They raised my siblings and myself to have empathy and be a voice and advocate for those who needed it.

How does your activism influence the community, those you’re advocating for and the people you hope to serve? 

I am able to leverage my resources, network, and infrastructure knowledge of various industries to pipeline direct opportunities for communities I serve. For an example throughout the pandemic I was able to supply students with 85k worth of equipment to support their e-Learning. In addition,  The Hustlers Guild offered $2.5 million worth of free social and emotional support programming to over 15K students.

Who are some of the activists that influence you and why? 

Shirley Chisolm a disruptor before her time, reckless for the better good. I always looked up to Angela Davis and her unapologetic attitude.

How can others follow your work or join your movement? 

instagram @thehustlersguild