July 2020 Leaders and Movements: Final Week
The United States of America is an ever-evolving work-in-progress. Social unrest and activism always come before major victories for justice and equality. While we acknowledge the founding of this nation on July 4, we’re spending the entire month of July highlighting the leaders and movements who pushed this country towards living up to the ideals it was founded upon – “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
LaDonna Brave Bull Allard is a Lakota historian and activist. In April 2016, she was one of the founders of the resistance camps of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, aimed at halting the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota. The Dakota Access Pipeline protests were grassroots movements in reaction to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Many in the Standing Rock community considered the pipeline and its crossing beneath the Missouri River a threat to the region’s drinking water and irrigation. The construction was also a threat to ancient burial grounds and cultural sites of historic importance.
LaDonna Brave Bull Allard established a water protectors’ camp as a center for direct action, spiritual resistance to the pipeline, cultural preservation, and defense of Indigenous sovereignty. Attempts to remove the protesters gained a great deal of media attention. The tribe sued and in March 2020 a federal judge sided with them and ordered United States Army Corps of Engineers to do a full environmental impact statement. Learn more about LaDonna Brave Bull Allard by watching this video
Tarana Burke an activist who started the Me Too movement. In 2006, Burke began using #MeToo to help survivors of sexual abuse and assault to connect, speak out, and stand up for themselves. Over a decade later, in 2017 #MeToo became a viral hashtag popularized when women began using it to tweet about sexual abuse allegations throughout the film industry. The phrase and hashtag quickly developed into a broad-based international movement.
Burke is the Senior Director of Girls for Gender Equity in Brooklyn, which strives to help young women of color increase their overall development through various programs and classes. She also organizes workshops to help improve policies at schools, workplaces, and places of worship, and focuses on helping victims not blame themselves for sexual violence. Learn more about Tarana Burke and the Me Too Movement from this InStyle profile:
Emma González is an activist and advocate for gun control currently studying at New College of Florida. As a high school senior, González survived the February 2018 Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida. She and other survivors spoke with state legislators in Tallahassee on February 20, 2018. The students then watched the legislature vote down debate on an existing gun control bill. In response she co-founded the gun-control advocacy group Never Again MSD and helped to organize the March for Our Lives.
González has been the target of many conspiracy theories and hoaxes since becoming a public advocate for gun reform. Conspiracy theorists have falsely accused the students, including González, of being crisis actors. She has also faced derogatory comments made by internet trolls about her political views, sexual orientation, and appearance. González has advice for coping with trauma and public harassment: “Shave your head and cry whenever you need to.”
Watch González take the stage for six minutes and 20 seconds during the March for Our Lives in March 2018:
Isra Hirsi is an environmental activist who co-founded and serves as the co-executive director of the U.S. Youth Climate Strike. Hirsi grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota and is the daughter of the U.S. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. She became involved in climate activism after joining her high school’s environmental club in her freshman year. Hirsi coordinated the organization of hundreds of student-led strikes across the United States in 2019. The global strike on March 15, 2019 gathered more than one million strikers.
The Youth Climate Strikes are an international movement of students who take time off from class on Fridays to participate in demonstrations to demand action from political leaders to take action to prevent climate change and for the fossil fuel industry to transition to renewable energy. In 2019, Hirsi won a Brower Youth Award, an annual award presented to six environmental and social justice leaders under the age of 23. Hirsi gave her first TEDx talk entitled “Angry Black Girl” on February 22, 2020: