Tamika D. Mallory speaking at the Women’s March on Washington
There is nothing sexier than impacting positive change. And when we say sexy, we’re talking about fearlessly walking in your purpose in such a way that everyone can’t help but take notice of and appreciate how truly badass you are. We’re talking #humanitygoals, #growuptobelikeyou, #pleaseupdatehistorybooks sexy. And for this reason, it’s important to pay homage to women currently living and working among us who are taking social activism to the next level, inspiring the rest of us to ask ourselves, ‘What am I doing to bring about change?’ While there are countless powerful sistah’s out there leading in communities across the country, we decided to highlight seven women giving us #activismgoals!
Chances are, you’ve seen Tamika D. Mallory, the outspoken champion for social justice who helped organize the Women’s March on Washington, attended by over 300,000 here, and sparked duplicate marches across the globe. The 36 yr old New York native has been applauded as an advocate for civil rights issues, equal rights for women, health care, gun violence, and police misconduct. Valerie B. Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama called her “a leader of tomorrow” and she was selected to serve on the transition committee of New York City Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio.
Johnetta Elzie Image via Getty/Jason LaVeris
Moved to action by the death of Michael Brown, Johnetta Elzie made a splash among Ferguson protesters by aiding with volunteer coordination and live tweeting surrounding events effectively becoming a leading citizen journalist on the protests. Later, she went on to co-create the website and databaseMappingPoliceViolence.org which tracks all people killed by police. Elzie currently leadsWe The Protesters, an organization which supports nationwide protest groups in combatting police violence and systemic racism through policy change.
Dr. Moya Bailey
If you’ve ever used the word “misogynoir,” you can thank Dr. Moya Bailey for its existence. Her devotion to examining the way Black women are represented in pop culture led her to coin the term as well as pursue Women’s Studies and activism. An assistant professor at Northeastern University, Dr. Bailey co-createdQuirky Black Girls (a network that celebrates Black girls who exist outside of social norms) andthe Crunk Feminist Collective (a supportive space for queer and straight hip hop gen feminists of color). She also is the digital alchemist for theOctavia E. Butler Legacy Network.
Monica Raye Simpson
Before Monica Raye Simpson relocated to Georgia to work with and eventually lead the Atlanta-basedSisterSong, the queer Black North Carolina native rallied against racism, human rights abuses, prison industry and violence against Black women and LGBTQ people. The facilitator/speaker/organizer/singer is also a certified doula. Now the executive director of SisterSong, Simpson created the organization’sArtists United for Reproductive Justice project which supports artistic collaborations on replicable artwork to further SisterSong’s cause of women’s reproductive health rights.
In the wake of Trayvon Martin’s tragic death, Los Angeleno organizer, artist and freedom fighter Patrisse Cullors’ co-founded hashtag #BlackLivesMatter jumpstarted the civil rights fight of our time. Her activism, however didn’t begin or end with the multi-issue global, Black queer femme-led intersectional movement. Before that, Cullors led a crusade against inmate abuse as the executive director of End Sheriff Violence in L.A. Jails and has since confounded prison activist organizationDignity and Power Now. She also serves as board member of theElla Baker Center for Human Rights.
Having built a reputation for taking on the causes of living wages for Florida A&M campus workers and combatting K-20 budgets cuts, Ciara Taylor was in prime activist form to take to the streets following Trayvon Martin’s shooting. Her response to the tragic killing was co-foundingDream Defenders which works on human rights issues, ending police brutality and shutting down the school-to-prison pipeline. She currently serves the organization as the director of political consciousness and develops and executes statewide political, educational and leadership development programming.
Having experienced the challenges of gaining access to healthy and affordable food in the Bronx, Tanya became active with South Bronx-Mothers on the Move, the Majora Carter Group and Sustainable South Bronx. The community activist and public speaker founded theBLK ProjeK in 2009 to further combat wealth inequality, the cycle of poverty and institutionalized sexism. The BLK ProjeK creates economic growth opportunities for women and youth of color through education, urban gardening, public space beautification, and community programming. She also created and stars in a web-based cooking and lifestyle showMama Tanya’s Kitchen where she teaches how to prepare affordable gourmet meals.
Who are your favorite activists right now?
Nikki Igbo is an Atlanta-based freelance writer and political junkie. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Political Science from California State University at Fullerton and a Masters in Fine Arts of Writing at Savannah College of Art and Design. When not staring in disbelief at the antics unfolding on CSPAN, she enjoys philosophical arguments with her husband, 70’s era music and any excuse to craft with glitter. Feel free to check out her freelance services at nikigbo.com and stalk her on twitter @nikigbo or Instagram at @nikigbo.