Learning from our Community: Regional Leaders in Racial Equity & Social Justice

Learning from our Community: Regional Leaders in Racial Equity & Social Justice

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a brilliant speaker and passionate leader in the ongoing fight for freedom and equality. Through civil disobedience and extensive community organizing, he helped push the country toward the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which aimed to prohibit laws and practices that made voting inaccessible or unsafe for Black and other marginalized Americans. We continue to witness challenges to these voter protections across the country today, reminding us that the defense of civil rights is an enduring responsibility.  

At Nyhus, we consider Martin Luther King, Jr. Day a valuable opportunity to serve our community, continue our education, and further develop our commitment to dismantling systems of oppression. We know how valuable relationships are for creating meaningful solutions to systemic challenges, and we are constantly seeking ways to expand our network to hear and amplify perspectives that are traditionally overlooked or suppressed.  

Below, we’ve shared just a few of the community members, experts and organizations engaged in the fight for racial equality and social justice. Check out what they’re working on and consider supporting or following along! 

Local Leaders to Learn From: 

Kamau Chege is the managing director at Washington Community Alliance, a coalition of over 70 organizations led by people of color across Washington dedicated to closing the wealth, representation and resource gaps for people of color. The coalition ensured more people of color were counted in our state in the 2020 census than ever before. They continue to support these communities through leadership development, policy advocacy, and capacity building. Follow Kamau on Twitter to hear his perspective on this topic and a wide range of other social justice issues. 

Ijeoma Oluo is a lauded writer and social activist from Seattle. Her book So You Want to Talk About Race is a New York Times Bestseller, and she recently published her second book, entitled Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America. Both of these titles are available for purchase at Black-founded and owned Estelita’s Social Justice Library. She was named to the 2021 TIME 100 Next list, and she received the 2020 Harvard Humanist of the Year Award. 

Omari Salisbury is the COO and founder of Converge Media, a media organization for and by the Northwest’s Black community. He is a talented media professional dedicated to representing the Black community authentically and providing relevant and equitable access to current cultural and political events. 

Dr. Estell Williams is an accomplished surgeon and an assistant professor of surgery at the University of Washington School of Medicine. She is the Executive Director of Doctor for a Day, a program that aims to inspire underrepresented and traditionally marginalized K-12 students to pursue careers in healthcare. She is also a mentor with Tour for Diversity in Medicine, co-founder of Estelita’s Social Justice Library, and organizer of the 10,000-strong healthcare workers’ march in June 2020 declaring racism a public health emergency. Follow Dr. Williams to learn more about her work with these organizations.

Local Organizations to Support: 

Black Future Co-op Fund empowers Black-led solutions through networking and investing in communities of color across the state. Founded by four Black women of African descent, the Fund has provided $1 million in grant funds to 40 Black-led organizations that are working towards a future where all Black people are liberated and thriving.  

Byrd Bar Place provides Seattle residents with assistance to meet their basic needs and supports collective action to build more equitable opportunities. Their programs include energy assistance, a food bank, personal finance resources, housing and others. 

Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle works to empower African Americans and marginalized communities with education and resources to create a fulfilling, self-sufficient life. They engage in five primary focus areas: advocacy & civic engagement, education, housing, public health and workforce development. Explore their Black business directory, Black Voices Project and other ways to get involved on their website and Instagram. 

Wa Na Wari is an art space, a community gathering place and a center for Black art and belonging in the Central District. It was co-founded in 2019 by Inye Wokoma, Elisheba Johnson, Rachel Kessler, and Jill Freidberg with the goal of creating a space to celebrate Black ownership, amplify Black art and provide a safe space for organization and connection. Find out about future events and learn how you can support their work.