Building Strength for All
Davis-Putter grantees challenge the corporate greed, war profiteering, oppression and inequality caused by power resting in the hands of a few. They bring hope for the future and inspire us to build strength for all.
Kahlil Almustafa is a poet, educator and organizer who plays a central role through spoken word in movements for reparations, against the prison industrial complex and against the war while studying Interdisciplinary Arts at Goddard College.
Sandra Alvarez is a doctoral student in Politics at UC Santa Cruz and has worked for the past decade against US imperialism in Colombia, educating about US injustices and building solidarity on campus and in community.
Joe Campe has worked for economic justice through United Students for Fair Trade and student solidarity with Nicaragua and is now organizing against homeless encampment sweeps while studying public health at the University of Washington.
Anne Braden Award recipient Khalilah Collins. Last year the Fund created the Anne Braden Award to honor this long-time civil rights activist and Davis-Putter Trustee. The Board decided to recognize an undergraduate working in the South and keeping racism central to all aspects of their movement work. There was an obvious choice this year, Khalilah Collins, a young activist from Louisville, Kentucky, the place Anne called home for so much of her life. Khalilah was a single mom, working a minimum wage job when she began organizing with Women in Transition, a grassroots economic justice organization founded and led by poor women. For the past seven years she has worked to build a poor people’s movement, while working in coalition on issues of racial, gender and sexual equity. With WIT she has organized truth commissions providing space for people to tell their stories of human rights violations, especially disparities in the numbers of poor women whose children are unjustly sent to Child Protective Services. She serves on the boards of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, Urban Spirit (a poverty immersion program) and the Anne Braden Institute at the University of Louisville where she is completing a bachelor’s degree in social work. Khalilah is exactly the kind of activist that Anne would’ve called late at night for an early rally, protest or press conference – and Khalilah would’ve been there!
Vanessa Faraj, the daughter of a Palestinian and Iraqi parents, organizes with the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions USA, while building coalition against racism and the war at Georgia State University.
Ari Lev Fornari organizes against the war and racism, for immigrant and LGBTQ rights and building solidarity with the people of Palestine while beginning Rabbinical studies at Hebrew College in Massachusetts.
O’Connor Scholar Erin Genia. Jessie Lloyd O’Connor was a labor journalist, organizer and an early member of the Board of Trustees who not only is remembered for her lifelong commitment to peace and justice, but also for opening her heart and home to community activists. Her love of humor, art and music provided a supportive and inspiring environment in the midst of often difficult movement work. When Jessie died in 1988, the Fund received a bequest which honors one grantee each year. This year the Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund has chosen Erin Genia as our O’Connor Scholar. An artist, mother of three and a graduate student in Tribal Governance at Evergreen State College, Erin uses her art to educate and mobilize community against war and oppression. Her work has been shown at the Washington State History Museum and has been published in Red Ink magazine and in Visions for the Future: A Celebration of Young Native American Artists. An exploration of the commonalities between Native American and Palestinian struggles led her to the Rachel Corrie Foundation “Breaking the Silence” mural project and the Olympia-Rafah Mural project. Of these projects, Erin said, public art is a very potent form of resistance, affecting the consciousness of the entire community. The power of art to awaken people to the realities of oppressions and its potential to spur action for positive social changes is extraordinary.” With Amnesty International chapters in Olympia and Puget Sound as well as the Evergreen State College chapter she founded, Erin has organized demonstrations, educational events, letter writing workshops and campaigns around torture at Guantanamo, atrocities in Darfur, Blackwater and war profiteering and the Iraqi refugee crisis. She is currently fundraising for the Iraqi Student Solidarity Committee, working to bring students made refugees by the US occupation to Evergreen to study and find a home. Like Jessie, Erin understands that art is not a luxury, it is central to our progress and to our survival in the struggle.
Ashwini Hardikar builds youth leadership with DRUM (Desis Rising Up and Moving) and creates programs to supporting parents who are radical activists while seeking her master’s degree from the Harvard School of Public Health.
Jeremy Kirk, a doctoral student in ethics, after being arrested while protesting torture, gave his name as that of a prisoner at Guantanamo, the first time the name had been spoken in a US courtroom.
Evan Knappenberger founded a chapter with Iraq Veterans Against the War after returning home from a tour of duty in Iraq, moving him to become a peace activist, assisting war resisters and organizing street protests.
Alexandra Leader uses her years of experience with Gainesville Women’s Liberation and Redstockings to train and support younger activists and organizes for single payer health care while working on her Pharmacy degree at University of Florida.
Fernando Mejia is completing his undergraduate degree in political science at Boise State University, while organizing immigrant workers, providing support programs for their families and advocating for the DREAM Act.
Luis Garcia Mercado, a leader in the movement for peace in Vieques, began organizing in high school against military recruitment and continues protesting ROTC programs at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez.
Ursula Mlynarek, who organized against sweatshop labor and military recruitment and founded a gay straight alliance and an Amnesty International Chapter before graduating high school, now studies political science at Alverno College in Wisconsin.
Bayla Ostrach, a single mom and labor organizer committed to raising her daughter in an activist community, worked against US imperialism in El Salvador in high school and co-founded a reproductive rights advocacy group while studying medical anthropology at Oregon State.
Bette Payne Award recipient Tasha Prosper. Bette Payne was a teacher from Louisville, Kentucky who believed in making education accessible for all children and was a dedicated activist for civil and human rights, fairness, peace and justice. Before her health declined, Bette was a common presence in the streets, on picket lines, at marches, or helping with mailings. To honor Bette and her legacy, her friends combined her two passions of education and activism by establishing a scholarship fund for young activists, which has been given to the Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund with a request that this award be given to a grantee who combines a passion for education and activism – that grantee is Tasha Prosper. Tasha is an anti-racist activist who hosts a monthly radio show on WBAI, “CUNY: A Mission Deferred”. On the show and in all aspects of her research and activism, Tasha advocates for open admissions policies which increase chances of underrepresented students achieving access to higher education. As a doctoral student at Teachers College, Columbia University, she has been a key organizer of protests in response to campus hate crimes and has worked for the hiring of a diverse faculty. She has been recognized by the American Psychological Association for her work in post-Katrina New Orleans. Tasha is making education a right for all making Bette’s dream a reality.
Joseph Richard has been an anti-war activist since high school and organizes laundry and janitorial workers with UNITE HERE! on the University of Florida campus, while studying Political Science with a goal of becoming a union organizer.
Allie Robbins is an economic justice organizer who has been active with United Students Against Sweatshops and now works to create solidarity with campus workers and organizes students for welfare rights while completing her final year of law school at CUNY.
Adam Shapiro, a filmmaker, activist, co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement and a leader in the movement for the rights of refugees, is beginning law school at Howard University.
Freedom Siyam co-founded BAYAN-USA to expose and end US imperialist intervention in the Philippines, creating Filipino solidarity through education, organizing and mobilization and is completing a master’s degree in education at the University of Washington.
Tamara Spira has organized for workers rights, prison abolition and against the war, and is researching memory and history of the families of the disappeared in Chile to complete her PhD in History of Consciousness & Feminist Studies at UC Santa Cruz.
Eric Stanley works to bridge the trans/queer community with the larger prison abolition community with Critical Resistance, the “Free the New Jersey 4” campaign and through his doctoral research, “Near Life, Queer Death: Violence, Value, Vitality”.
Annie Tummino was the lead plaintiff in a successful suit against the FDA making the morning after pill available without a prescription to women over 18 and now studies Library Science at Queens College to help preserve movement history as a tool for social change.
Kandace Vallejo attended a course at Movimento dos Pequenos Agricultores in Brazil and now works to open a similar movement school in the US while organizing campaigns on immigrant worker rights and food justice at Southern Illinois University.
Camilo Viveiros is returning to UMass Dartmouth to complete his degree after spending the last 14 years organizing for economic justice, immigrant workers rights, homeless, welfare rights and tenants unions.
Dara Walker is an active affirmative action, immigration and labor rights organizer who is completing her degree in African American Studies at Eastern Michigan University where she is the co-chair of By Any Means Necessary.
Adrienne Wheeler, a student at Loyola Law School, co-founded a legal collective working on police abuse, and organized lawyers to provide assistance in post-Katrina New Orleans for the National Lawyers Guild.