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Open Society Foundations Announce 2019 Soros Equality Fellows

NEW YORK—The Open Society Foundations is pleased to announce the 2019 class of Soros Equality Fellows, a diverse group of artists, advocates, lawyers, and organizers whose work inspires advances in racial justice and equality in the United States.

Founded in 2017, the Soros Equality Fellowship program supports innovators and risk-takers striving to create and develop new ways of tackling the systemic causes and symptoms of racial disparity and discrimination. Beyond nurturing their specific projects, the program provides leadership development training, networking, and other professional support aimed at creating new ideas in the racial justice movement.

This year’s class features 18 fellows from different communities and regions of the country, who bring a wide range of tools to bear on the program’s core mission. Among the projects they will be working on: launching an initiative to promote equity for Black communities in the emerging cannabis economy and redress wounds inflicted by the drug war; creating new media platforms for trans people of color to tell their stories and empower their community; building the capacity of Asian American organizations to push back against conservative narratives and injustice; curating a multimedia reenactment of the largest slave rebellion in U.S. history; and defending California’s Native Americans’ battle against false representations of their communities.

“At a critical time in our history when hatred, racial discrimination, and disenfranchisement of whole communities are on the rise in America, the Soros Equality Fellows represent a new generation of ideas and strategies to strengthen our multiracial democracy and build justice for all,” said Alvin Starks, director of the Open Society-U.S. Equality team at the Open Society Foundations. “These fellows bring boundless creativity, intelligence, and drive to their work, provoking us to confront what is happening in this country today, and lighting up the path to a better tomorrow.”

The 2019 Soros Equality Fellows will each receive stipends of $100,000 over the course of 18 months.

2019 Soros Equality Fellows

Su’ad Abdul Khabeer will develop Umi’s Archive, a multimedia project that seeks to recover untold everyday histories of Black Muslims in the United States that can inspire, empower, and provide tools to achieve racial justice today. 

Bernadette Atuahene will build on her academic research by creating a comprehensive guide and user-friendly, interactive information hub that communities can use to fight back against racially discriminatory property tax administration.

Yi Chen will produce First Vote, a feature-length documentary about new Americans voting and participating in democracy for the first time. 

Cathy Dang-Santa Anna and Alex T. Tom will develop an organizing toolkit to support Asian American communities combating the rising Chinese conservatives in the United States.

Free Egunfemi will create innovative people-powered strategies to amplify the emerging Commemorative Justice movement as an essential component of the Black creative economy.

Morning Star Gali and Barbara Mumby-Huerta will examine efforts to remove California-based frontier memorials through the development of a toolkit, entitled “Challenging False Representation of California Indian Peoples.” This toolkit will support indigenous peoples, as well as other oppressed communities, in asserting their rights to respectful, honorable, and accurate representation in the public realm. 

Ebele Ifedigbo will launch an initiative to promote equity in the development of the emerging cannabis workforce for lawmakers, entrepreneurs, and community organizations and foster opportunity for Black communities harmed by the war on drugs.  

William Isom II will create Black in Appalachia, an initiative to educate the public about the history of African Americans in the development of Appalachia and its culture.

Imara Jones will develop TransLash, a cross-platform storytelling effort centering on the humanity and perspectives of trans people of color. 

Maori Karmael Holmes will create an online platform for the exhibition and critical exploration of film and visual culture by global artists of color.

Hanna Kim and Reginald Moore will make the complex history of convict leasing accessible to the public through the portrayal of the brutal story of the “Sugar Land 95,” the remains of 95 African American convict laborers that were discovered in Sugar Land, Texas.

Tamika D. Mallory will seek to build a framework and provide coaching to Black churches and institutions to strengthen their ability to use intersectional approaches in their social justice advocacy.

Cara Page will develop Changing Frequencies, establishing a digital timeline of the medical-industrial complex (comprising both public and private health institutions) in the United States that have participated in the scientific experimentation, medical exploitation, and biological surveillance of people of color, indigenous people, people with disabilities, LGBTI people, women, and the working class. 

Favianna Rodriguez will build the Center for Cultural Power, an artist-led platform working to help artists and culture makers from marginalized backgrounds tell their stories, disseminate them—and leverage their power to drive change.  

Dread Scott will create a conceptual, community-engaged performance titled Slave Rebellion Reenactment, reinterpreting Louisiana’s German Coast Uprising of 1811—the largest rebellion of enslaved people in U.S. history.

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