8 women activists minding the gap in the South

The South is home to the most diverse people, landscapes and culture in the country. We have so much to be proud of. But our governments are often stagnant, disproportionately stocked with white men and ineffective when it comes to taking care of vulnerable communities.

But minding the gap are women leading community activism and heading up social welfare organizations to take care of their people. People like Catherine Coleman Flowers, who has done just that. Through research and activism she brought to light the failing water and waste sanitation infrastructure in rural areas across the South. She has shined a light on the ways in which lack of proper infrastructure keeps these communities down, spotlighting how it affects their health and increases socioeconomic disparities. (Story continues below.)

You’re invited to join Reckon reporter Abbey Crain in a conversation with Catherine Coleman Flowers on Tuesday, December 1. In our last Be Better event of 2020, we will learn how women can be better activists in their community. You can ask Flowers questions directly, and learn from the best how to be better at activism.

Sign up here.

We wanted to highlight some of the women doing activist work and leading change in their own communities.

Cherisse Scott, Tennessee, @SisterReach

Cherisse Scott  is the CEO of SisterReach, a reproductive justice organization that supports the reproductive autonomy of women and teens of color, poor and rural women.

Last year, Cherisse was the only Black woman to testify against an anti-abortion bill in Tennessee and had her mic cut off less than halfway through her testimony.

Rukia Lumumba, Mississippi, @RukiaLumumba

Rukia Lumumba is a human rights activist and the executive director of The People’s Advocacy Institute in Jackson, Miss. PAI pushes for community lead initiatives in response to crime to prevent systematic harm and the incarceration of people of color. 

Stef Bernal-Martinez, Alabama, @stefwithanfany

Stef Bernal-Martinez is a photographer, abolitionist and the co-founder of 1977 Books in Montgomery, Ala., an abolitionist bookstore and community space. 

Keturah Herron, Kentucky, @KeturahHerron

Keturah Herron is a policy strategist for juvenile justice at the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky. She works to develop policy to help end the school-to-prison pipeline in Kentucky’s Jefferson County. She is also active in Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Black Lives Matter Louisville and Louisville Family Justice Advocates.

Amanda Beatriz Williams, Texas, @amandabeatrizTX

Amanda Beatriz Williams is the executive director of The Lilith Fund, a reproductive justice organization that provides financial assistance and emotional support for people who need abortions in Texas.

Janisse Ray, Georgia, @TracklessWild

Janisse Ray is an environmental activist and author who writes about the changing landscape of rural south Georgia.

Colette Pichon Battle, Louisiana, @CPichonBattle

Colette Pichon Battle is a human rights attorney and climate advocate on Louisiana’s gulf coast and the executive director of The Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy. GCCLP is a non-profit law firm focused on climate justice in communities of color on the front line of climate change.

Jilisa Milton, Alabama

Jilisa Milton is a civil rights attorney and racial justice activist in Alabama. She is working on a project in the Black Belt that protects children with disabilities from entering the school to prison pipeline. She was the 2019 Regional Public Interest Award recipient from the Equal Justice Works, which honors eight law students who have demonstrated commitment to public interest law and pro bono work.

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