Starting Thursday, May 14th through June 12th, 2020, nominations will be accepted for the Black Education Matters Student Activist award! I am writing this letter to encourage educators, parents, students, and community organizers to nominate a deserving student for the award today!
The Black Education Matters Student Activist Award (BEMSAA) gives recognition, support, and a $1,000 award to student leaders in the Seattle Public Schools who demonstrate exceptional leadership in struggles against racism—especially with an understanding of the intersections with sexism, homophobia, transphobia, Islamaphobia, class exploitation and other forms of oppression—within their school or community. Over the past several years, thirteen Seattle Public Schools students have been honored with the award.
I founded the award a little more than a year after I was assaulted by police and won a settlement. The assault occurred in January of 2015, soon after I gave the final speech at Seattle’s Martin Luther King Day rally. Not long after, I was pepper-sprayed in the face without provocation by an officer of the Seattle Police Department. I was on the phone with my mom at time of the assault, coordinating a ride to my then two-year-old son’s birthday party. The incident was captured on video by an onlooker. I then filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Seattle and the Seattle Police Department and reached a settlement over the incident, using the proceeds to start the “Black Education Matters Student Activist Award.” While I’m glad the money from the settlement could be used to support youth activism, the settlement does not represent justice given that the officer who pepper-sprayed me did not even receive a one-day suspension for the assault.
Last year’s winners were:
- Rena Mateja Walker Burr, Cleveland High School
- Khabirah Weddington, Garfield High School
- Cece Chan, Nathan Hale High School
For a full list of the previous amazing award winners, please visit the Award Winners page.
Here, then, are the instructions for applying for the award.
Seattle Public School students (or advocates on their behalf) can apply for the Black Education Matters Student Activist Award by filling out this application.
The Black Education Matters Student Activist Award fund offers a $1000 package to a deserving Seattle public school student who demonstrates exceptional leadership in struggles for social justice, and against institutional or structural racism. Student can nominate themselves, or can be nominated by a friend, teacher, coach, counselor, parent or others.
Criteria for selecting the awardee:
• Any student who has been enrolled for a semester or more in a Seattle public school.
• A student who has shown social justice leadership in struggles against racism—especially with an understanding of the intersections with sexism, homophobia, transphobia, Islamaphobia, class exploitation and other forms of oppression—within their school or community.
Application instructions: Nominees must submit required material by May 5, 2018, to be considered for the award.
• Applicant or nominee name and other requested information, see below.
• Clippings or links to evidence or stories about the student’s work, if available.
• In addition to the information in the form, send 2 letters of recommendation, each not less than 300 or more than 700 words each, describing the nominee’s work and why it is deserving of recognition and how the student’s leadership qualities may further social justice work in the future.
• Note there are no restrictions for how the Nominee uses the funds obtained through this award.
The application for the award is available here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1JIqRZxNDUdYtGEsgJLP4ArM0VMaTMbPjfWEh-Bok3zU/edit?ts=58616bba
Application support materials should be sent to StudentActivistAward@gmail.com using the message line, Black Education Matters Award