Meet our 2021 BQTGNC Fellows
Black Alliance for Just Immigration
Los Angeles, CA
I am Maraky Alemseged, BAJI’s Los Angeles Organizer. I'm a first-generation Ethiopian-American from Los Angeles, and identify as an organizer, sociological researcher, abolitionist, Pan-Africanist, womanist, and passionate social justice advocate. Through this fellowship, I hope to have developed and implemented abolition-centered and queer-affirming organizing tools that will help me engage and organize Black immigrant youth. I believe it is crucial that youth organizing be prioritized particularly where major identities (i.e. race, immigrant status, gender identity, sexual orientation, among others) intersect as they are often the most vulnerable yet most determined to make social change.
Californians for Justice
Long Beach, CA
I am a Long Beach, Ca resident that has been organizing since I was a high school student. It is important for me to impact youth the same way past organizers once did for me. Through this fellowship I hope to accomplish a better sense of myself while also utilizing this time to gain knowledge.
San Francisco Rising
San Francisco, CA
Natalya is a creative, passionate learner and artist who is eager to explore what it means to be an intersectional, abolitionist organizer and community member. She is thrilled to learn more about what transformative justice looks like in our daily lives, how we can uplift one another through healing practices and mutual aid, and how to cultivate Black joy. Through this fellowship, she hopes to become a more courageous organizer who is more connected with her community and evolve her queer identity. Youth organizing is essential to her as youth are the leaders of the future who possess the power to reshape our world into one that enables all oppressed peoples to thrive.
Young Women’s Freedom Center
San Francisco, CA
I am a queer black women from the bay that has so much more to explore. I want to shut down Juvenile Hall with the lead of system-impacted youth, without replacing it with another institution that we will have to shut down in the future. I want to make sure I make space for youth to be decision-makers that look like me and are discriminated against racist and oppressive systems.
Youth Organize California
Kern County, CA
Hey I’m 25 and I’m a Community Organizer with YO! Cali and the People’s Budget Bakersfield. I’m a Central Valley native who genuinely wants to see my home become a healthier place for all and not just the select few who have privilege. Growing up I always felt like an outsider due to always being the only one or one of few black people in spaces and I credit the latter toward my drive for legitimate diversity and inclusion. Too often we have been comfortable in our society being separated from our siblings in different groups and that has got to stop. I want my life’s work to facilitate space for communal healing throughout the Central Valley. Right now that looks like organizing toward defunding BPD as a step towards abolition, facilitating trauma sensitive yoga spaces that are inclusive to Black, Plus size, and queer bodies and working towards being a better earth steward. I pray my contributions to our movement honors my people before and after me.
Gender & Sexualities Alliance Network
My name is Larada Lee. I am 21 years old and organizing in the Bay Area with Gender and Sexualities Alliances Network. I came into this work as a 15 year old foster youth in my hometown of Columbus, Ohio.Youth organizing provided me with the chance to see myself as powerful, capable, and deserving. My greatest wish is that all youth will be able to achieve the same. I am hoping to gain a deeper sense of radical community care and transformation through the fellowship.
Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement
Inland Empire, CA
Jewel Patterson is a Lead Organizer for Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement (C.O.P.E.). Since joining, Jewel has designed and launched a grassroots organizing and leadership development program for Black youth, received her Master’s in Counseling, and was recognized by Assemblymember Eloise Gomez-Reyes’ office as a 30 Under 30 honoree for 2020. As a Black, queer feminist community organizer Jewel's work continues to focus on serving traditionally marginalized communities in the Inland Empire by using organizing and ARTivism.
ZION “Z” SOLOMON
Zion Solomon is the Youth and Community Liaison Coordinator. They grew up in San Diego, California and graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in Religious Studies and History. Zion’s belief in the power in community organizing began when they attended labor strikes with their caregiver at the age of 7. Ever since, Zion has worked towards building community and strength through coalitions since. Their passion is supporting the joy and holistic wellness of themselves and others and liberation through self and community care.