“Crystal Valentine, a 25-year-old poet, educator, and activist, actively promotes Black liberation in tandem with intersectionality. Her goal is to make her work accessible to all Black people, including women, LGBTQ+ individuals, and people with disabilities. Crystal grew up in the Bronx and graduated from New York University. Her inspirational poems address systemic oppression. One of her poems, “Black Privilege,” speaks to what it is like to be Black in the US and includes powerful passages such as: “Black privilege is me having already memorized my nephew’s eulogy, my brother’s eulogy, my father’s eulogy, my unconceived child’s eulogy…Black privilege is me thinking my sister’s name is safe from that list.” – Mackenzie Gunther
“Kimberlé Crenshaw is a contemporary American lawyer, activist, and scholar. She currently works as a professor of law at UCLA and Columbia University. She is best known for her development of the term “intersectionality” which proposes that oppression and life in general are experienced in a variety of ways depending on an individual’s unique convergence of social identities. Without her contributions, the academic landscapes of disciplines like gender studies, critical race theory, and minority studies would be entirely different.” – Esme Graziani
“Stacey Abrams is a former minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives, voting rights advocate, and founder of several equal opportunity initiatives that have galvanized change across the United States. Abrams has been a trailblazer of Black excellence through various political and advocacy roles, and in 2018 founded the Fair Fight Action organization which strives to combat voter suppression across the U.S., with a specific focus on marginalized communities in Georgia and Texas. She most recently helped to register 800,000 voters in Georgia for the 2020 Presidential Election and was a key figure in promoting voting rights during the decisive 2021 Georgia Senate Runoff.” – Katie Howe
Marsha P. Johnson
“Marsha P. Johnson was a Black trans woman, sex worker, and drag performer that dedicated her life to advocating for LGBTQ+ rights. Johnson lived in New York in the 1960s when police violence against queer folks was widespread. She is best known for being the catalyst of the Stonewall Riots and pioneering the modern LGBTQ+ movement. Alongside Sylvia Rivera, she co-founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), the first organization to provide food, shelter, and AIDS support to LGBTQ+ youth experiencing homelessness. Her resistance to police brutality, homophobia, transphobia, and racism towards and within the queer community has undoubtedly changed American history forever. Johnson was a fearless leader who demonstrated the importance of community, love, resistance, and joy.
To learn more about Johnson, I do not recommend watching the Netflix documentary “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson” and instead, support Black, Trans filmmaker Reina Gossett whose research and ideas were taken by Netflix.” – Elisa Martha
“Michaela Coel is an actress, producer, director, screenwriter, and singer from East London. Her most recent show, I May Destroy You, stems from her personal experience of sexual assault and is written with both humor and heart-breaking depth. She also explores daily microaggressions against BIPOC and the boundaries between consent and violation. In 2017, Coel was offered a million-dollar deal by Netflix to produce the show but was refused any copyright ownership despite being the creator, writer, and lead actor. Appreciating the show’s value, Coel turned down Netflix’s offer and retained ownership through HBO and BBC. Coel’s decision to retain full creative control is indispensable in an industry that denies ownership and compensation for BIPOC artists and creators.” – Toko Peters
“James Baldwin (1924-1987) was an author and activist, bridging themes of race, sexuality, and class in his work during the civil rights and gay liberation movements. As a Black man who was open about his relationships with men and women, he was ostracized within the Black liberation movement of the 50s and 60s which often excluded open LGBTQ+ activists. Despite this, his influential novels, such as Giovanni’s Room and If Beale Street Could Talk, gained prominence throughout North America and Western Europe. Baldwin’s writing influenced contemporary theories of intersectionality and continues to be referenced by other powerful Black authors.” – Chelsea Bean
“We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one.”
“Amanda Gorman gained international praise from her powerful poem, ‘The Hill We Climb’, after reciting it at President Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021. In a time where discrimination is at the forefront of political and social discussion, the young poet spoke candidly of unity and justice. At only 22, she has claimed her title as the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history and has become a notable figure within the present-day Black liberation movement. With her three upcoming books rising to the Amazon bestseller list, a performance at SuperBowl LV, and an interview for Time Magazine with former First-Lady, Michelle Obama, this is only the beginning for this brilliant young mind.” – Rob Lowrey
“Katherine Johson was a brilliant Afro-American mathematician who worked for NASA in the 1950s and 60s during the height of racial segregation in the US. Johnson was one of the first three African American students to graduate with a PhD in Mathematics. After years of working as a teacher in her local community, she started to pursue a new career at the all-black West Area Computing section at NASA in 1952. Despite being segregated at work, she used her excellent numerical talent to help America to win the Space Race by ensuring the success of the Friendship 7 Mission to the first American to orbit Earth in 1962 and then by calculating the trajectory data which was necessary to get the Apollo 11 to the Moon and back. In light of her great achievements made throughout her decades-long career at NASA, Katherine was awarded by President Barack Obama the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honour. Her unique and inspiring career was the subject of the highly acclaimed 2016 book and movie “Hidden Figures.” – Demiran Asim
“Njamba Koffi is a Vancouver-based author, musician, and poet hailing from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Much of his younger life was lived in refugee camps in Malawi and Swaziland, where he continuously excelled in his studies and co-founded the Mpaka Refugee Camp Youth Club. In 2017, he published an autobiography detailing his experience as a refugee navigating education and friendship. Njamba is a United World Colleges graduate and studies international relations at the University of British Columbia and is a strong advocate for refugee and youth empowerment, diversity and inclusion, and Pan-Africanism.” – Dorothy Settles
The History of Hogan’s Alley
“Hogan’s Alley, a T-shaped intersection in Vancouver’s Strathcona neighborhood, was the heart of Vancouver’s Black community until its demolition. As Black immigrants arrived in Vancouver in the early 20th century, housing discrimination policies concentrated the Black population into Hogan’s Alley, spurring unique cultural institutions in the process. This neighborhood was systemically ostracised and vilified by local newspapers until it was levelled to build the Georgia Viaduct into Downtown Vancouver in 1967. Now, as the Viaduct is set to be demolished, advocates are lobbying the City of Vancouver to repurpose the land that was Hogan’s Alley into a Black Cultural Centre to “promote the cultural, political, and economic well-being of people [of] African descent in the city.” Despite historical efforts to destroy the community, the impact of Hogan’s Alley on Vancouver is immeasurable – the land must now be used for the celebration and empowerment of Vancouver’s Black community.
Learn more about Hogan’s Alley and its cultural impact here and here.
Sign the petition to redevelop Hogan’s Alley into a Community Land Trust here.” – Courtney Jacobsen
“Jean Augustine is a Grenadian-Canadian who is a true force in Canadian politics. She made history when she became the first-ever Black Canadian woman to be elected to the House of Commons. Since then she has blazed a trail for enhanced equity throughout her community and beyond, serving as a Parliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and then re-appointed to the new Cabinet as Minister of State (Multiculturalism and Status of Women). In addition to her federal career, Augustine has supported and led a multitude of organizations, sitting on the board of The Hospital for Sick Children, York University, and more. Today she is widely known and respected for her devotion to furthering equitable education and research opportunities of Black communities. She continues to be a face of change for generations to come – inspiring and uplifting a new generation of Black leaders.” – Lilly Callender
“In 1939, Billie Holiday recorded “Strange Fruit,” a protest song against racism and the lynchings of black people in the United States. The solemn song had a substantial impact at the time, stunning audiences and drawing the ire of white listeners across the South. Holiday was ordered by the federal government to stop performing the song on multiple occasions and when she refused, agents from the Federal Bureau of Narcotics targeted her. Eventually, she would spend 18 months in jail and lose her performance license for heroin possession. Throughout her life and career, Billie Holiday faced racism and bigotry while struggling with her own demons and contributed greatly to the fight for equality and justice in the United States. “Strange Fruit” continues to demonstrate the power that art has to change the world.” – Chase Kelliher
“Angela Davis is a renowned political activist, scholar, author and speaker. She has always involved in struggles for human rights, especially women’s rights and Black liberation in the United States. She draws on her own experiences, as she was put on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted List” in the early 70s and spent 18 months on trial and in jail. Today, she focuses mostly on prison abolition in the United States and is a founding member of Critical Resistance. She is also an outspoken supporter of Palestinian liberation, and promotes international solidarity, exemplified in her book Freedom is a Constant Struggle.” – Danica Torrens
“CEO of Uoma Beauty Sharon Chuter has fought for the inclusivity of Black people in the beauty industry. Due to the underrepresentation of black women in the industry she started her own brand that includes 51 foundation shades and factored in skin chemistry and undertones when creating her products. Although she stresses it’s not about how many shades of foundations a brand carries, but who is behind those shades. In response to the black square posts on instagram in June, Chuter launched a movement “Pull Up for Change” that encouraged companies to release how many Black people are employed at a corporate level. Resulting in huge brands acknowledging they need to better represent Black people.” – Zein Haj Hasan
Coretta Scott King
“Coretta Scott King was an American activist, civil rights leader, author, and singer. She was married to Martin Luther King Jr. and was a pillar of strength to not only him, but the entire Civil Rights Movement in the sixties. After his assassination in 1963, she fought to make his birthday a national holiday, finally succeeding in 1986. King committed her whole life to activism for racial justice and preservation of her late husband’s legacy, lobbying with politicians to change racist policies, teaching university courses, and working within communities to protect and increase black votes. ” – Arlene Yang