For Immediate Release: October 21, 2020
Contact: Keri Gray, (202) 521-4310, email@example.com
WASHINGTON, DC – Young people have a long-standing history of being on the forefront of social justice movements and demanding change across the systems, policies, and procedures that shape our lives. It’s no different for today’s generation of young activists. As our nation continues to mourn the death of Tony McDade, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, and countless other Black Disabled people who have lost their lives to state violence, young people are demanding change by leading civic engagement efforts and efforts to get out the vote.
The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) is pleased to announce the inaugural class of the Fannie Lou Hamer Leadership Program. This program is designed for young Black disabled advocates (ages 18 – 30) who are committed to the social, political, and economic issues surrounding the intersections of the Black and Disability communities. Each participant receives a $1,500 stipend and resources to produce creative content as a part of a digital campaign that promotes voting and civic engagement.
Fannie Lou Hamer is a well-recognized civil rights activist and organizer for voting rights. Her work centered on elevating the rights of Black voters and women, particularly across the state of Mississippi. She co-founded the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and later the National Women’s Political Caucus, which is active to this day. Hamer had polio as a child and later became physically disabled due to a severe beating in a Mississippi jail. In honor of her legacy and sacrifice, AAPD is proud to announce the participants of the 2020 Fannie Lou Hamer Leadership Program:
Adreenah “Dreezy” Wynn
Adreenah “Dreezy” Wynn, originally from rural Apalachicola, Florida, is a graphic designer, female, African American, thriving with a blood disorder called Sickle Cell Disease, anxiety, and depression. Dreezy graduated from the University of Florida (UF) with a dual degree in Graphic Design and Art+Technology, minor in Sociology, and she is finalizing an Arts in Medicine Certificate also at UF. Dreezy is a Digital Storyteller, Act Activist, and Social Designer. She uses design as a catalyst to initiate real conversation, amongst real people, about real issues. Much of her work has a social justice theme, and her top medium is video and digital media. Dreezy volunteered and facilitated art and story-telling workshops in UF Health Shands Hospital, juvenile detention centers, and within the community and schools. She spent this past year doing community organizing and loved it! Dreezy currently volunteers with the Sunrise Movement and is working on starting her own blog. Dreezy can’t wait to see how her experience in the Fannie Lou Hamer Leadership program will shape the black community and her journey. You can learn more about Dreezy’s work at www.adreenah.com.
Born and raised in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Jalyn Radziminski is fueled by their passion to unite education, non-profits, government, political and grassroots community initiatives to promote equity both socially and systematically. Jalyn graduated from Emory University with a bachelors and linguistics and interdisciplinary studies with a human rights concentration. As an undergrad, Radziminski co-founded Emory University’s Black Mental Health Ambassadors Program as well as served as a founding council member of Mental Health America’s National Collegiate Innovation Council and Students for Prison Education and Resistance. After graduation, Jalyn has advocated for diversity and voter equity in Georgia by serving as a Fair Fight Action Political Fellow, conducting research about jail voting for grassroots initiatives, volunteering for disability inclusion initiatives surrounding employment and transportation advocacy, and by serving as a Communication Director and Legislative Aide for the Georgia House of Representatives. Jalyn saw the need to encourage more diverse voter turnout and political participation in her home state as well. Thus, Jalyn founded Count US IN, an Indiana based initiative to uplift, educate, and empower local voices as well highlight Indiana’s relevance in the national political conversations. Jalyn is grateful for this opportunity to learn and grow in a space that centers Black and Disability rights, and will actively work towards making sure every vote counts!
Ra Malika Imhotep
Ra Malika Imhotep is a Black feminist cultural worker from Atlanta, Georgia, pursuing a doctoral degree in African Diaspora Studies at the University of California, Berkeley with a designated emphasis in New Media. Ra’s intellectual + creative work tends to the relationships between queer articulations of Black femininity, vernacular culture and the performance of labor in The Dirty South. Currently living, practicing and dreaming in New Orleans, Louisiana, Ra works across mediums to apply principles of disability justice and the long tradition of Black feminist world-making to collaborative efforts that “make revolution irresistible” through innovative and inclusive approaches to political education and cultural production. Ra is co-convener of an embodied spiritual-political education project called The Church of Black Feminist Thought, and a member of the curatorial collective The Black Aesthetic. Ra is currently being politicized in community with the organizers, scholars and cultural workers of Southerners on New Ground, Gallery of the Streets and Sister’s Action Team.
Shayla Gaither is a fun and lively woman from a small town outside Philadelphia. She attends college at a liberal arts school in Reading, Pennsylvania. Ever since Shayla was little, she had a passion for media and advocacy. As a little girl, Shayla would record events with her family’s camcorder and write letters to state representatives. Now, Shayla is a Business and Communications major, who wants to create entertaining commercials in her career. In Shayla’s free time, she also advocates for minority and disability rights. Shayla is extremely excited to participate in the Fannie Lou Hamer Leadership Program. Not only does the program combine all of Shayla’s passions, but the program also helps support minorities across the country.
City/State: Los Angeles, CA
Tolu was born in Nigeria and moved to the United States in 2017. He is highly interested in public policy, and often participates in a lot of volunteer and community service projects. He is also a human rights advocate with special interest in disability rights. Tolu’s interest in the Fannie Lou Hamer Leadership program stem from his passion for public policy, leadership, and advocacy, with special focus on disability rights. As a college student, he has been actively involved in leadership activities both on and off campus through the Student Government where he served as the sophomore representative, and was on the Speech and Debate Club. In his community, he has been an active member of the Nebraska Youth Leadership Council (NYLC), a self-advocacy leadership organization for youth with disabilities in Nebraska. Through this organization, he has teamed up with other members on how to create a more suitable environment for people with disabilities, by creating awareness and advocating for their rights. In his leisure time, Tolu likes to watch YouTube, play video games, or just hang out.
Any questions regarding the Fannie Lou Hamer Leadership Program can be directed to AAPD’s Senior Director, Keri Gray, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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AAPD is a convener, connecter, and catalyst for change, increasing the political and economic power of people with disabilities. As one of the leading national cross-disability civil rights organizations, AAPD advocates for the full recognition of rights for the over 60 million Americans with disabilities. AAPD’s programs and initiatives have been effective in mobilizing the disability community through communications advocacy; cultivating and training new and emerging leaders with disabilities through leadership development programs; increasing the political participation of Americans with disabilities and elevating the power of the disability vote through the REV UP (Register! Educate! Vote! Use your Power!) Campaign; and advancing disability inclusion in the workplace through the Disability Equality Index (DEI) — the nation’s leading corporate benchmarking tool for disability equality and inclusion. To learn more about AAPD, visit www.aapd.com.
AAPD’s REV UP Campaign aims to foster civic engagement and protect the voting rights of Americans with disabilities. AAPD works with state and national coalitions on effective, non-partisan campaigns to address the concerns of people with disabilities, eliminate barriers to voting, promote accessibility of voting; educate communities about issues and candidates; promote turnout of voters with disabilities across the country; and engage candidates and the media on disability issues. Learn more about REV UP at www.aapd.com/revup.