2021/22 Jesse Lloyd O’Connor Scholar – Caitlyn Clark
Each year the Fund selects a grantee who honors the legacy of commitment to peace and justice modeled by Jessie Lloyd O’Connor, a labor journalist, organizer and an early and beloved member of our Board, who with her husband Harvey, opened heart and home to activists seeking respite. Our Jessie Lloyd O’Connor Scholar is Caitlyn Clark, an undergraduate student at Yale University, majoring in Political Science with a self-designed concentration in Radical Approaches to Political Economy. Her research focuses on the role of women factory workers in the South Korean labor movement that prefaced the minjung democratic movement of the 1980s. She served as Editor-in-chief of Broad Recognition, an intersectional feminist undergraduate magazine at Yale and as co-chair of the Yale Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA), assisting in the initial re-creation of the campus chapter in 2019. Outside of school, she has aided in labor organizing efforts and hopes to continue labor organizing as a rank-and-file teacher after graduation. She holds the title as the youngest winner of the Youth Speaks Teen Poetry Slam, after which she went on to perform poetry on stages across the country. She is from the San Francisco Bay Area.
Anne Braden Award – Xian R. Brooks
The Anne Braden Award was created to honor this long-time civil rights activist and Davis-Putter Trustee. The award recognizes a student working in the South, keeping racism central to all aspects of their movement work. This year’s recipient is Xian R. Brooks, a Black, queer, trans, Southern gentleman, from Louisville, Kentucky. Xian received a BS in public health education from North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina and an MPH in community and behavioral health from University of Colorado Denver. He is a public health professional and community-based birth doula (The Dandy Doula!) and is currently enrolled as an accelerated master’s nursing student at the University of Louisville to be a certified nurse midwife. Xian’s goal is to stop educating non-directly affected people about cultural and structural competence and trans bodies and be the person that they, and many others, wish they had as a healthcare provider. This goal looks like opening a reproductive health clinic. Xian shared movement space with Anne as a young activist organizing at The Carl Braden Memorial Center in Louisville, KY.
Marilyn Buck Award – Leo Hylton
Marilyn Buck was a political prisoner and poet who worked in solidarity with Black Liberation struggles to end white supremacy. She received grants from the Fund in 2003 and 2004, and sent donations and supportive notes from her jail cell. To honor her memory and legacy, The Marilyn Buck Award is given to an incarcerated or formerly incarcerated activist working for justice. This year’s awardee is Leo Hylton, an incarcerated citizen in Maine State Prison, working toward establishing restorative justice practices, principles, and processes within the Maine Department of Corrections. Toward this end, he has served on the prison’s Restorative Practices Steering Committee, undergone 4 years of professional development in RJ under the Restorative Justice Institute of Maine leadership, including the co-creation of an education and practicum course on Restorative and Transformative Justice, assisting other incarcerated people toward engaging in a more restorative future. He also works to influence public policy and shift the societal narrative around incarcerated people and carceral spaces through organizing political outreach, serving as NAACP Executive Secretary, and writing his monthly Mainer column, “Shining Light on Humanity” (https://mainernews.com/author/leo-hylton/). He is pursuing a Master’s degree through George Mason University’s Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution, with an Individualized concentration in Social Justice Advocacy and Activism.
Nora Abedelal is a first-generation Palestinian born and raised on Ohlone Land. She has organized with the Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC) since 2014, where she was a youth leader in the Arabic Language Pathways, Stop Urban Shield, and Block the Boat campaigns. She was president of Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Davis from 2018-2019, where she coordinated anti-racist and abolitionist actions. Most recently, Nora was a youth coordinator at AROC where she organized Arab high school and college students. Nora is an incoming M.A student in Social Sciences at the University of Chicago. Her research interests include ethnographic documentation of the Palestinian-American diaspora, the larger War on Terror, digital surveillance, and policing. In her organizing work, Nora builds with other communities impacted by state violence, and she hopes her scholarly work will embody her commitment to solidarity and liberation for all.
Nyché Andrew – As a Yup’ik and Inupiaq Alaska Native, Nyché has worked to uplift Native people, specifically within education. Nyché helped create a policy that would allow students to wear their cultural regalia during high school graduation ceremonies by gaining support from organizations, legislatures, villages, and through her testimony to the Anchorage School Board. As vice chairwoman on the district’s Native Advisory Committee, she championed a policy extension to honor more aspects of traditional regalia. She established the Indigenous Student Union at her school to bring together Native youth to encourage cultural identity in pursuit of academic excellence. Nyché led the implementation of land acknowledgments at school, and distributed essential school supplies and food staples during the height of COVID-19. Nyché’s experience in community service defines her career path as she attends Yale University to study political science, and enrich her passion for helping others, pride in her culture, and the ability to be a force for positive change.
Nile Blass, a DMV native, studies Government at Georgetown University. There, she has been at the forefront of local organizing against racial injustice and gendered violence. As an organizer for The 272 Advocacy Team, their work in restorative justice received national media coverage, culminating in a university-wide campaign to establish a reconciliation fee to financially support the descendants of those who Georgetown University once enslaved. As an organizer for the Black Survivors Coalition, she worked with other students in a space centered around Black women and Black femme survivors of sexual violence, advocating for more resources and institutional support to maintain student safety and wellness. She has also worked to dismantle symbols of confederacy and slavery across campus as Chair for the Philodemic Society’s Committee on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation, Georgetown’s oldest student organization. More recently, she has been using her position in Georgetown’s Black Student Alliance to provide support and fundraising for Black Lives Matter DC.
Brandon Brown is a second-year PhD student at the Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution (George Mason University). Incarcerated since 2008, Brandon has spent the entirety of his time in prison pursuing education, social justice, and systems change. He received his undergraduate degrees in liberal studies from the University of Maine Augusta, and, in 2020 became the first prisoner in Maine’s history to earn a graduate degree while incarcerated. Brandon is dedicated to blazing new trails, constantly redefining who incarcerated people are allowed to be; his thesis research was potentially the first of its kind, receiving IRB approval to conduct a narrative study within his incarcerated community, uncovering the nature of narrative violence through the suppression of prisoner voices. Brandon has coauthored current legislation and policy redefining reentry practices in the state of Maine, helped design restorative mentor programming for incarcerated youth, guest lectured at multiple universities about his research, and been actively involved in advocating for expanded educational opportunities for marginalized communities. Passionate about the full spectrum of social justice issues, Brandon’s studies are dedicated to exposing the ways that master narratives fuel systems of inequity and structural violence, and how narrative theories may be used in the pursuit of peace, justice, and equality.
Thyme Canton (they/them/theirs) is a lifelong learner in the pursuit of social justice. They hold an undergraduate interdisciplinary degree from Fairhaven College. Currently, they are a psychology graduate student at the New School of Social Research. Thyme has spent the last decade working in coalition with Black and queer people of color, young people, sex workers and migrants in both Washington state and the nation’s capital around sex education, workers’ rights, and direct-service harm reduction. Thyme is interested in centering underserved BIPOC communities’ as they continue their education in psychology.
Terrell Carter is beginning an MFA program at Drexell University. He writes, “For several years of my life I’ve been existing as a man condemned to die in prison. It is an existence devoid of the natural inclination of human beings to look forward to something good or exciting to come. It is a life where hope is murdered by the idea that no matter how contrite, how much you’ve transformed and how desperately you want to atone, there will be no forgiveness, for your name has been written in the book of, An Eye For An Eye, where the ink is as binding as a contract signed in blood. It is an existence of total confinement where your imprisonment does not end with the physical, but it also imprisons you psychologically and emotionally, where your every thought, your every feeling, is determined by a never-ending physical incarceration, and if you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself trapped in that prison with no way out, where even your dreams can’t offer an escape.
About 20 years ago I found myself living a life where I did not know how to be free, it was a life where I had been adding more bricks and mortar to a prison where I was the sole occupant, jailer and warden. Right before my father passed away during one of our last conversations he said to me, ‘son, you need to write, writing can be your means to freedom.’ So began my experience with creative writing. With those words of advice from my father I picked up a pen and it has been everything that my father said it would be. Writing has been my keys to freedom it has been my hope, it has been my guide out of the darkness of despair.
Usually when we think of creative writing we think of story-telling. We think of these motion pictures of the mind where there’s a beginning, middle, and ending where the protagonist exists in this space of conflict with an antagonist. This perception was true four me as well, but the more my pen touched the pad the wider my perception became. I grew from seeing story telling as a means to simply entertain to experiencing creative writing as an expression of a cathartic self-realization. When my pen kisses the pad it becomes a tool for me to get to know the hardest person in the world to know–myself. It becomes a way for me to step outside myself so that I can bear witness to the bricks that I had laid. It was myself exposing myself, my weaknesses, my vulnerabilities, it was myself freeing myself from the prison that my weaknesses and my vulnerabilities had become. This was the freedom that my father spoke to me about. Creative writing has also allowed me to share my story in hopes that it can do for others what it has done for me. This has become my life mission, to share my stories, these life lessons I express through the written word so that they can be used to help others see the part they play in constructing prisons around themselves, that it can show them the keys to their freedom like my stories in prose has shown me the keys to mine.”
Miguel Angel Castañeda and his family have lived in the San Diego-Tijuana borderlands for generations. He is a fifth year Ph.D. Candidate in the United States History program at the University of California, San Diego. He received his B.A. from San Diego State University and A.A. from San Diego City College, both in Chicana/o Studies. Miguel has participated in student activism around various issues; protesting tuition hikes and racism on campus to pushing a BDS resolution. Currently, Miguel works with the San Diego Tenants Union where he helped establish the Popular Education Committee, with the goal of providing tenants with political education relevant to their struggle. The committee has organized English and Spanish talks on the history of labor and rent strikes, gentrification/Gente-fication, social reproduction, and more. Miguel’s dissertation documents the struggle by Mexican American students for a Chicano/a Studies Department in the late 1960s, with a focus on the role of Marxism, socialist feminism, and internationalism.
Debbie Duarte has been a campus organizer at UC Santa Cruz, with undocumented student organizing , against the military industrial complex and for a cost-of-living adjustment for TA’s and other campus workers and formed an undocu-collective demanding that ICE/Police be removed from campus. She began advocating, planning marches and protest; administration responded with massive police force, including the brutalizing of several students and Debbie was among the students of color who were under surveillance and received threats of expulsion if their campus protests continued. Following the rebellions fought for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor she began participating in a long series of protests organized in the city of Santa Cruz around the abolition of police. Debbie is beginning a PhD in Literature at UC Santa Cruz. She said, “My own research is centered around colonization, capitalism, and the hauntings/ghosts these violently create, and the embodied practices needed to address these hauntings. I believe that knowledge about liberation should never be limited to the classroom, but be made and practiced in lived experience, in the streets, in being in solidarity with one another. Only then can we address the ghosts colonization/capitalism make, redeem our dead and fight for those we lose to this system.”
Asha Edwards is currently an undergraduate student attending the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is a visual artist and community organizer. Asha sometimes engages in community-organizing, abolitionist rooted campaigns, and mutual aid as a member of community-based grassroots organizations in Chicago. She hopes to help establish public health alternatives to policing as well as free, sustainable, and Earth-based housing on the South Side of Chicago as part of the struggle for Black self-determination, indigenous sovereignty, and the eradication of global oppression. She engages in direct action campaigns through Assata’s Daughters and WeAreDissenters, an anti-war, anti-militarism, and anti-imperialism organization. She’s been a part of campaigns such an #PoliceFreeSchools, #NoCopAcademy and #DefundCPD.
Jessica Francois is a radical queer feminist from Boston, MA currently residing in Brooklyn, NY, where she is obtaining her Master’s in Public Health at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. She has always had a particular interest in social justice movements and work since high school, having had the opportunity to attend a school where participating in community service, exercising responsibility, and having initiative behind actions was the norm. After graduating Wesleyan University in 2014, Jessica worked for Rosie’s Place, a homeless shelter for woman, and Sanctuary for Families, a nonprofit combatting gendered violence. Most notably, in the summer of 2020, Jessica and a group of her friends created a nonprofit, Public Assistants that sought to counter systemic inequity and neglect with solutions that were guided by creativity and community. A year since its inception, Jessica has helped Public Assistant gain 501c3 status and legal representation. At this time, Jessica hopes to bring elements of her public health degree into all of the bodies of work she chooses moving forward, including Public Assistants.
Jacqulyn Hamilton is a Healing Justice Practitioner based in Chicago. Rooted in social justice and liberatory praxis, she supports individuals, communities and institutions as they work to integrate anti-oppression and healing justice frameworks. As the Director of Wellness, Culture, and Action at Chicago Freedom School, her work is grounded in racial justice, intersectionalism, and the legacies of organizing that grow out of them. In this role, she has created programming for and fostered the development of Chicago’s young organizers. In 2015, after over a decade of reproductive justice work, she co-created Project HealUs, a reproductive justice organizing intensive for Black and Brown female, femme, trans, and gender nonbinary young people. This work led her to be invited to join the 2021 cohort of the Rockwood Reproductive Justice Fellowship. Having entered through the non-baccalaureate pathway, she is a 2020-2021 Global Activities Scholar and a 2021 Masters of Social Work candidate at the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor where she will graduate with a concentration in global policy.
Amanda Jimenez is a Filipino CUNY Law 3L, National Democratic activist, and artist based in Queens, NY. She’s fighting the rising fascism of the US-Duterte dictatorship in the Philippines by linking to and serving the issues of NY-based Filipino youth and students. As a founding organizer of Anakbayan-Manhattan (ABM), Amanda carefully planned and implemented mass education campaigns that ideologically strengthened members and recruited Filipino and working class youth. She’s also grounded ABM’s campaigns and community-building on campuses by collaborating with clubs; providing workshops on topics ranging from Philippine history and identity to revolutionary theory; and learning about and mobilizing around campus issues affecting students, faculty, and workers. Additionally, as Legal Coordinator of Mission to End Modern Slavery (MEMS), Amanda utilizes her legal and organizing knowledge to empower, educate, and serve migrant workers and trafficking victims. She aspires to become a people’s lawyer to serve Filipino and other migrant communities.
Alex Kerry is Houston-based Palestinian organizer, artist, and student at the University of Houston. Alex’s organizing primarily focuses on challenging institutional relationships to Israeli apartheid, building grassroots student and community power to uplift and advance the demands for Palestinian freedom, liberation, and return. Alex’s work expands to confronting militarism and partnerships with war-profiteering companies, though he began organizing in high school with March For Our Lives. Alex encourages involvement with campus or community Palestine solidarity organizations, and encourages all Palestinian & Arab youth to join the Palestinian Youth Movement!
Lenora R. Knowles is a working-class Black and Honduran-American organizer and organic intellectual. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland (on the unceded lands of the Piscataway Conoy tribe). Lenora is a PhD student in the Harriet Tubman Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Maryland. Her most current scholarly inquiries pivot around the coalitional politics and anti-capitalisms of U.S. based Third World women organizers active during the 1960s and 1970s. Lenora is a member of Village of Love and Resistance (VOLAR) in East Baltimore. VOLAR organizes to bring about community control of land and housing, realize collective healing, and build grassroots community power among low-income Black folks in East Baltimore. She is happy to be building out the political education program of VOLAR’s Organizing School. Lenora finds joy in developing leaders and transformative relationships through VOLAR’s ongoing commitment to base-building.
Momo Manalang is a member of GABRIELA New York, a militant women’s organization fighting for the rights and welfare of the Filipino people. She is also a Political Science major at Hunter College, who aspires to be a people’s lawyer to uphold migrants’ rights and freedoms from political prosecution. Between 2019 to 2020, she has documented the women’s rights movement while integrating with various sectors of Philippine society. She participated in the production work of farmers facing issues of land-grabbing, has picketed with striking NutriAsia workers demanding an end to short-term employment practices, and has assisted in alliance work with street vendors affected by clearance operations. She has also protested with urban poor communities fighting illegal demolitions for corporate plunder, aided in paralegal work for women human rights defenders faced with trumped-up charges, and volunteered for relief efforts in response to the 2020 Taal Volcano Eruption and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Erika Martinez is student and organizer at Make the Road New Jersey, a community organization that builds the power of immigrant and working-class communities in New Jersey to achieve dignity and justice. As an undocumented person, she has and continues to advocate for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented communities, the abolishment of ICE, and respect and dignity for Black and brown communities. She organized with New Jersey immigrant youth to win access to occupational licenses for all New Jersey residents, regardless of their immigration status. She works with a committee of immigrant youth to dismantle the good/bad immigrant narrative and to demand citizenship for all 11 million undocumented people. She is a fourth-year student at Rutgers University majoring in Sociology and minoring in Legal Studies.
Brian Moreno is a poor working-class poet, cultural worker, and critical educator. Born on un-ceded Tongva land in Brooklyn Heights, Los Ángeles and raised east of east más alla por El Monte. As a transfer student in Ourstories from East Los Angeles Community College, he earned a BA in history and is currently working on his MA in the Latin American Studies program at California State University Los Angeles. Simultaneously organizing against the gendered racist class violences and the neoliberal exclusionary policies from the autocratic administration of CSULA and the CSU system, including defunding and disarming militarized police from CSU campus communities. His intention is to contribute to specific forms of abolition and community organizing, class struggle, and ontological self-making. His work centers Praxes and Rituals of Healing and Recovery, Love and Conviviality, Consciousness-Raising and Organizing.
Gilberto Anthony Murillo is from Norwalk, CA, where police violence and harsh punishment of impoverished community members are all too common. As a documented gang member who was racially framed and wrongfully convicted, Gilberto seeks to promote social justice against oppressive policies. He collaborated with other California advocates to ensure the passage of Senate Bill 1391 (2016), which focused to uphold law protecting 14-15 years olds from being prosecuted as an adult. As a McNair Scholar, Gilberto utilizes his reach to challenge academia and governmental institutions to do better for communities impacted by incarceration. Gilberto joined Next Generation Fellows (NGF) to further his leadership abilities, learn new skills, and develop his character to build a collective force for social justice. He is currently attending the University of California – Santa Barbara, in studies of Political Science and Sociology. While organizing Underground Scholars Initiative (USI) that focuses on supporting formerly incarcerated students through higher education in recruitment, retention, and advocacy. Gilberto’s grant is funded in part by generous donations made in memory of 2020/21 grantee, Ben Hall.
Andrew Ntim is a black, queer, low-income student at Yale Law School that focuses his movement and legal work primarily on anti-carceral organizing. The guiding principle of Andrew’s work thus far has been the recognition that any movement aimed at fundamentally transforming the broken system of punishment must directly center the voices of system-impacted people. To this end, Andrew has worked with abolitionist scholars prior to law school to elevate the work of restorative justice and community accountability facilitators, in addition to supporting a national campaign promoting participatory defense aimed at building power among criminal defendants. At Yale, Andrew has helped to organize legal observers for Black Lives Matter protests throughout the state through the National Lawyers Guild, and works towards the dismantling of the Yale Police Department and reinvestment in local restorative justice models with Black Students for Disarmament at Yale. Following law school, Andrew hopes to work as a radical public defender, using his legal training not only to mitigate harm but also building power within communities most targeted by the prison industrial complex in service of movements for BIPOC, queer, and economic liberation.
Nushrat Nur is a Dream Defender, humanitarian, photojournalist, University of Florida graduate and incoming public health master’s student at Emory University. Throughout her time in college, Nushrat dedicated her time to addressing health disparities and education, particularly as it related to migrants and refugees both settled in the United States and abroad. She believes that the core of all activism lies in the fight for healthcare access and rights — we cannot successfully free our people until they’re cared for at the most fundamental level. As a photojournalist, she maintains that the revolution is meant to be documented through the eyes of the people and knows that it is up to us as artists and organizers to make sure we are making room for those stories to guide us to liberation.
Kanyinsola Oye is a senior at Howard University, double majoring in Political Science & History and minoring in African studies. Kanyinsola has been organizing in her home city, Columbus, Ohio, for the past five years for several causes. She is the founder & lead organizer of CPDoutofCCS which was able to break a 3.0 million dollar contract with Columbus Police Department and Columbus City Schools. Kanyinsola is also the co-founder of She Can Make A Difference, which teaches young girls the importance of self-acceptance and self-love. At Howard, Kanyinsola is also a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc, Alpha Chapter, focused on community consciousness with an action-oriented approach. Lastly, Kanyinsola is a dedicated writer and has written for Teen Vogue & Vogue publications. Through sharing her lived experiences and writing, she hopes young organizers like herself can recognize their power and continue to seek collective liberation.
Nikita Rahman, a Queens native, is a current MSW candidate at Columbia School of Social Work (CSSW). This past year as a first year at CSSW, she has worked to shift the Overton window of re-imagining unjust systems and helping facilitate conversations to push our imagination of what is possible. Nikita, along with a group of passionate staff and students, has helped co-create a new mandated reporter training that will be piloted this fall. The new training challenges the role of social workers in the current punitive model of the family regulation system (more commonly known as the child welfare system) and offers holistic alternatives that aim to actually meet the needs of impacted families. This year she will continue to work to support and grow the project. Nikita is also a collaborator for the Network to Advance Abolitionist Social Work (NAASW), an initiative to support abolitionist work in the field of social work. This year, NAASW has organized a host of digital events to interrogate the role of social workers as agents of the carceral state. Currently, she serves as a parent advocate intern at The Bronx Defenders in their Family Defense unit. As she looks forward, she aspires toward a holistic practice as a defense-based social worker, postpartum doula, and circle keeper. Nikita is also a dancer, plant mama, and sci-fi reader.
Jairo Robles Morales is a first-generation Guatemalan immigrant who got introduced into the role of activism and community organizing through the Dream Act Campaign. Since 2009, he has been involved in his Nashville community with different organizations related to immigrants and workers’ rights. He is a founding member of Freedom Arts, an artist collective that focuses on bringing and creating art in the community to empower members of marginalized groups. Currently, Jairo is on his last year of the Professional Counseling Program at Middle Tennessee State University with hopes of becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor. His focus in counseling is to help immigrant and refugee communities in Nashville through more accessible and inclusive mental health services.
Angelica Rodriguez is the proud daughter of Mexican immigrant farmworkers. Growing up in the Central Valley town of Delano, CA, Angelica learned to appreciate education because of her family’s experiences in farm labor, which have motivated her to address the exploitation and socio-economic oppression that farmworkers face. Throughout her undergraduate studies at UC Berkeley, Angelica remained dedicated to her rural farm working communities. She often traveled between 440 miles from the Bay to Delano during weekends to organize voting and grassroot community efforts in Delano, like immigrant rights workshops and marches. In 2019, she co-authored a sanctuary city resolution and helped organize for its passage. She has also advocated for police accountability, utility subsidies, and access to clean, accessible drinking water in the valley. Now, as a first-year law student at Berkeley Law, Angelica is passionate about serving marginalized communities, and she hopes to uplift her communities as a public interest attorney.
Eden Stolt is a forest defender and environmental organizer working to keep old growth forests in the ground and fight back against the corporations bent on turning indigenous land into profit. They have participated in and coordinated numerous anti-logging and pipeline blockades over the years. Eden has also been working to strengthen mutual aid networks by spending much of the last two years helping to build community kitchens and food banks across the country. While their main focus is environmental activism, the George Floyd protests of 2020 inspired them to engage in mass demonstrations and street organizing. Eden has been building connections between street organizing and forest defense in an effort to create resource networks that span both movements and build solidarity. They are studying Sociology and Philosophy at The Evergreen State University.
Alexa Vaca helped form a coalition of faculty, students and staff, alongside the Southern Christian Leadership Conference after Kansas State University was taken over by white supremacists responding to cheerleaders taking a knee in solidarity with demands with the movement for Black Lives. She turned this working coalition into a formal organization called KSU United that works to fight systemic oppression. The coalition changed the culture at KSU by creating a hub for leftist groups to come together and align. She plans to continue building a critical analysis around race, class, gender, and sexuality so that she may strengthen her organizing skills. She wants to study how marginalized folks achieve liberation and is especially interested in Afro-Latinx decolonization struggles. She is seeking a Master’s in African American Studies at Georgia State University.