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Building a Bolder and Brighter RJ Future

For the average college student, a weekend in the nation’s capital may include exploring the incredible brunch scene or sightseeing the historical landmarks across the city, but for the 12 students entering the Next Generation Leadership Institute, they spent their time in Washington, D.C. enhancing their leadership skills and learning more about building power through campus mobilization. The 2022 Next Generation Leadership orientation held, Aug. 12-14 was a two-day training focused on building the young leaders’ skills as Reproductive Justice activists.  

During the orientation, the Next Gen fellows became familiarized with the key term “intersectionality.” First coined by legal scholar and activist Kimberly Crenshaw to address how the interconnected nature of social categories such as race, class, and gender create overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination. Reproductive Justice is how we tackle the systems that harm us. Some of the fellows found this session to be the most impactful. 

“Intersectionality is actually one of my favorite words now. It taught me to look at life in a more appreciative view and looking at a person as a whole person and not just what you see on the outside seeing all that they bring to the table and brought to the world,” said Alana Latin from Howard University.  

“What stood out [to me] is how housing and access to housing plays a huge part in Reproductive Justice and reproductive access. Even being from San Francisco, even though I’m not in a high-rise or old Victorian, I still have a place of privilege compared to people who are unhoused in San Franciso,” said Hampton University fellow Shavonne Hines-Foster. 

The fellows represent seven HBCUs from across the country, including Dillard University, Hampton University, Howard University, Lincoln University, North Carolina A&T University, Spelman College, and Xavier University. The class is extremely diverse with a broad range of perspectives and backgrounds. In Our Own Voice is intentionally creating space for these young leaders to bring the richness of their lived experiences into the program. 

“I believe that it is important to center Black lesbian’s voices.,” said Hampton University fellow Anayla K. McClendon. “As someone who is a Black lesbian, I grew up very gender non-conforming, and I found that it was a common experience among other Black lesbians. It’s a very complicated dynamic, [and] it’s not talked about enough when it comes to Reproductive Justice issues and Black issues in general,” 

The fellows will continue to elevate their RJ advocacy efforts on their campus’s through an intersectional lens for the duration of the two-year program. The fellowship is designed to train HBCU students from across the nation to become Reproductive Justice leaders. Stay tuned to see how this class is building a bolder and brighter RJ future! Click here to learn more about the program. 

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