As we take the time today to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy it’s important now more than ever to remember what he stood for. Dr. King was a prominent leader during the Civil Rights Era who strongly believed in human rights, equality and the practice of nonviolence. His major accomplishments include being awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 and successfully leading the March on Washington. His most famously known speech, “I Have a Dream” still resonates today. While there is progress still to be made, activists like Deray Mckesson, Stacey Abrams and Chi Osse have committed themselves to bringing about the future Dr. King envisioned.
Deray Mckesson is a civil rights activist from Baltimore, MD. Mckesson became involved with activism from an early age by advocating for youth and family centered causes. Today, he’s one of the major voices for Black Lives Matter Movement and Campaign Zero. Mckesson speaks out against mass incarceration, police brutality and the racial wealth gap. Mckesson was one of the many activists that hit the streets in August 2014 to lead the protests in Ferguson. His mission focuses on changing the existing structures and systems that perpetuate racism. Mckesson’s proposal on reallocating police funds sparked a large conversation this past year. These suggestions encourage distributing the budget to designated areas disciplined to deal with certain situations. For example, instead of having a police officer respond to a homeless person, a social worker would be sent out to the scene. Mckesson’s service as a community organizer prompted him to advise government officials on different levels. President Obama has applauded Mckesson for his work. He’s also an author with three published books and hosts a weekly podcast titled “Pod Save the People”. In 2016, Mckesson was listed in the Time’s “30 Most Influential People on the Internet” and continues to use his influence to provide an insight on how to end police violence.
The nation watched Stacey Abrams in action as she played a key role in the recent presidential election. Stacey Abrams spent her childhood in Gulfport, Mississippi where her parents taught her the importance of service and helping those who are less fortunate. Abrams’s upbringing inspired her to participate in civic engagement. Abrams dedicated herself to improving the lives of Georgia citizens by working with multiple government, non-profit and business agencies.
Abrams is currently running for governor. In 2014, Abrams founded the New Georgia Project, a voter registration program dedicated to increasing voter participation and protecting voters’ rights. Between 2014 and 2016 the New Georgia Project registered 200,000 new voters of color.
Abrams has reigned in multiple accomplishments thus far in her career. In 2010, she was the first woman to lead either party in the Georgia General Assembly and the first African American to lead in the House of Representatives. Abrams has worked on legislation that improved transportation, education and infrastructure. She is also the co-founder of NOW Account which is a financial service firm that provides support to small businesses. In the 2020 presidential election Abrams fought hard to protect democracy by running programs designed to prevent voter suppression. Her dedication helped Jon Ossoff reach his victory. Ossoff is now the first Jewish Senator and youngest senator sitting at just 33 years old. Abrams’s work with Fair Fight helped register over 800,000 new voters in Georgia just in time for the election. With each of her efforts Abrams has managed to restore the voice of people.
Chi Ossé is a Brooklyn native and an activist. Last summer Ossé attended his first protest ever in the streets of New York City. Since then Ossé has been using his voice to speak out against racial inequality. Ossé uses his platform to amplify the message of the Black Lives Matter Movement and the Warriors in the Garden. Ossé is the co-founder of Warriors in the Garden, a collective of activists dedicated to nonviolent protest and protecting the communities from systemic oppression. Whilst the group led peaceful demonstrations, empowering and educating the youth became another Now, he’s also a candidate in the race for City Council in the 36th district. His campaign slogan is made up of three simple words: Reimagine, Reinvest, Renew. His campaign focuses on affordable housing, public safety, education, criminal justice, climate, local business and labor. Ossé is only 22 years old making him the youngest candidate to run for the position. In an interview with Complex magazine Ossé said “I'm trying to inspire and push people to enact real change on a local level because that's where we'll feel it. That's where we'll see it.” Ossé is determined to improve the lives within his community and inspire others to do the same.
The work of these three activists are paving the way for a better and brighter future. As they fight against police violence, voter suppression and systemic oppression, many of their efforts reflect the values of Dr. King.