It’s International Women’s Day and while we believe that women should be celebrated every day, today is the perfect day to highlight some amazing women of color who are working to improve our communities. These women are strong, are breaking barriers and challenging the status quo, to lift up entire communities and improve conditions for men, women and children across the USA.
These women give voice to the voiceless and marginalized, and work hard to include and highlight the stories and issues people of color face every day.
They have been successful in breaking barriers and are advocates, highlighting the need to look at the whole picture and hear all the voices in the room: the poor, the undocumented, the non-gender conforming, etc.
If you didn’t know them, you need to know them! Make sure to follow their work and accomplishments on Twitter.
Ai-jen Poo, born in Pittsburgh to Taiwanese parents, has been an activist from early on. While at Columbia University she was already protesting the lack of inclusion– a protest that ultimately led to Columbia’s Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race. Ai-jen has spent over 20 years organizing immigrant women. She founded Domestic Workers’ United in NY, and was instrumental in helping to pass the Domestic Worker’s Bill of Rights in 2010. Currently she is the Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (founded in 2007) and the co-director of the Caring Across Generations, a campaign which is a national coalition of 200 advocacy organizations working to improve elder care in the United States. Ai-jen named one of Time 100’s world’s most influential people in 2012. She has also been called “one of the country’s most visionary organizers.”
Follow Ai-jen Poo on Twitter: @
ALICIA GARZA | PATRISSE CULLORS | OPAL TOMETI
Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi are the founders of #BlackLivesMatter, a movement (not a moment) that “was created to raise awareness and demand change to the oppressive and systemic dehumanization of Black lives in our country. “
#BlackLivesMatter is a call to action and a response to the virulent anti-Black racism that permeates our society.”
Alicia, Patrisse and Opal seek to “broaden the conversation to include Black life.” They want to broaden the conversation around state violence and point out the reality in which Black people are left powerless and how Black lives are deprived of the most basic human rights and dignity.
Dalia Mogahed was born in Egypt and came to the United States at the age of 4. Dalia works to improve the lives of American Muslims. She has been an advisor to President Obama on the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Currently, she is the Director of Research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU), a research organization that supports American Muslim community development and amplifies the voices of American Muslims in the public square. Previously, Dalia chaired the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies which conducted research and statistics on Muslims throughout the world. She has conducted extensive research on Muslim communities in the United States and around the world, co-authoring a book entitled “Who Speaks for Islam?” What a Billion Muslims Think” . She has been recognized as one of the most influential Arab women in the world.
You can follow Dalia on Twitter: @
Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas is the Executive Director of The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) the only organization working for Latina women’s reproductive rights and reproductive justice in the nation. She is a leading voice in the fight to improve conditions for Latinas and their families, frequently making appearances in media, giving speeches and even addressing Congress. She works tirelessly to bring attention to the improve Latina’s women’s access to critical reproductive healthcare, like access to abortion and birth control. Her voice is also an important one in the fight for salud, dignidad y justicia (health, dignity and justice) for Latino families and is devoted to fulfilling NLIRH’s vision which is “to create a society in which Latinas have the economic means, social capital, and political power to make and exercise decisions about their own health, family, and future.”
You can follow Jessica on Twitter: @jgonzalez_rojas
Linda Sarsour is a Palestinian Muslim New Yorker (born and bred in Brooklyn) and calls herself a “working woman, racial justice and civil rights activist, every Islamophobe’s worst nightmare, and mother of three.” She is currently the Executive Director of the Arab American Association of NY. She also cofounded the first Muslim online organizing platform, MPOWER Change. Linda was instrumental in helping get two Muslim holidays on the NYC Dept. of Education calendar. She wishes to break down stereotypes of Muslim women and culture, of which she is incredibly proud of. She has received numerous awards including the “Champion of Change” by the White House and has been named among 500 of the most influential Muslims in the world. Check out Linda’s profile in the New York Times Metro Section “Brooklyn Homegirl in a Hijab.”
You can follow Linda on Twitter: @lsarsour
Maria Hinojosa is an experienced journalist who has devoted her career to bringing light to issues affecting the Latino community. She is currently the host and producer of Latino USA on NPR. She is also the founder and CEO of Futuro Media Group. Most recently, the Futuro Media Group is producing “Humanizing America” a webseries that investigates and presents human stories which often go unreported, Humanizing America is a series of documentary shorts presenting underreported human stories from the American electorate.” Make sure to check out the latest episode of Humanizing America, Young and Muslim:
Make sure to follow Maria on Twitter: @Maria_Hinojosa
MARIA TERESA KUMAR
Maria Teresa Kumar is the founding President and CEO of Voto Latino who has become a key organization in getting young Latinos to become interested in the political process. Voto Latino works hard to emphasize the importance of participating in the political process and voting. Maria Teresa is a leading voice in matters of voting, political participation and the Latino vote. She is considered one of the most influential Hispanics in the USA. Why did she join Voto Latino? “When I was asked to join this initiative, it was the first time I was being recognized as being both Latina and American. Nobody in mainstream media was talking about us — let alone to us. We simply had to do this, to help map out the course of this country.”
Follow Maria Teresa on Twitter: @mariateresa1
Melissa Mark-Viverito is the first Latina Speaker of the NYC City Council. Melissa has been a champion of issues affecting low-income New Yorkers, like affordable housing. She was also one of the council members who led the initiative on participatory budgeting, which allows the community members to vote on what kind of projects they would like to see funded in their neighborhoods. The Speaker seeks to improve conditions for all New Yorkers, most notably people of color, with initiatives like #SheWillBe, focused on young women ages age 12-24 at the center, with the goal of crafting policy recommendations that address racial, gender and other disparities.
Follow Melissa Mark-Viverito on Twitter: @
Miriam Yeung has been working for underrepresented and marginalized communities for a long time. For 10 years she worked at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in New York City, where she held various roles, working to empower the LGBT community. Currently the Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), the only national progressive organization dedicated to improving rights and social justice for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women and girls in the US.
Miriam is a proud queer Asian-American activist (she was born in Hong Kong and raised in Brooklyn). She has been honored for her work multiple times, most notably by the Ms. Foundation’s annual Gloria Awards.
| PODCAST | Listen interview of Miriam here.
Follow Miriam on Twitter: @miriamyeung
Monifa Akinwole-Bandele is a human rights activist and a co-founder of the Black August Hip Hop Project. She currently is the food and economic security campaign director at MomsRising.org, an amazing organization that works to improve conditions for families and children in the United States. In the past, she has worked to expand voting rights (as a director for the Brennan Center). She is also a voice against police brutality and is an advisor for Police-Misconduct.com as well as the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP).
Follow Monifa on Twitter: @monifabandele
Tanya Fields is the Executive Director of The Blk Projek. Tanya realized that her community in the Bronx didn’t have access to healthy foods and was plagued by poverty, harsh inequities, lack of access to capital and structural barriers to rising out of poverty. She created the Blk Projk in 2009 to “address food justice and economic development by harnessing the local, good food movement and creating small business and career opportunities for underserved women and youth of color.” She realized it was necessary to provide opportunities for economic development and education. The Blk Projek does this through culturally relevant education, beautification of public spaces, urban gardening and community programming. Their goal is to improve communities and lives by improving public health and creating opportunities for local families to get out of the cycle of poverty. Tanya Fields is a fierce and eloquent speaker, who also created the Not Just Talk Summit, after being uninvited to be a TED Talk guest. Tanya writes a biweekly column on food justice on Ebony.com.
Make sure to follow Tanya on Twitter: @
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The work these women do for their communities is incredibly important. They are working to improve the lives of thousands of Americans… their work is not only important for their communities, they work is important for AMERICA… because we are part of America. We want to achieve the American dream, we want to fulfill our potential, we have the right, like other Americans, to live, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We may have more barriers along they way, but you better believe we are determined, willing, and able to overcome them. Because we will not be put down, or be shaken up, or discouraged. No character, white supremacist or racist presidential candidate can deny us our rights or silence us. So we will keep going, because we regardless of what we may look like, how we may dress, what we may call our God, or what language we speak, we are American. Because the “minorities” will soon be the majority, and because of course, multicultural is the new black, of course.
So who did we miss? Share more fabulosas & poderosas below!