We made it through another year together. Even though organizing in North Carolina in 2016 was a balancing act, youth activists were an ever-present, growing force. We were unified in our fight when we learned HB2 was passed during a special session of the General Assembly, on the anniversary of Blake Brockington’s death. Youth came from every corner of the state when Keith Lamont Scott was killed by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police, and stayed even in the face of horrific police brutality.
In 2016, we launched the campaign to Get Cops Out of Schools in Durham and Wake County. We’re proud to have trained youth activists during our 4th Annual Teen Convening, Pre-HKonJ Youth Power Convening, and 7th Annual Freedom School. This year our youth fought against forced deportation and their right to education; cultural assimilation and the right to wear headwraps in school; transphobic policies and the right to access safe, gender-neutral school restrooms. We’re honored to to support such resistance.
The continued brilliance and bravery of youth wouldn’t be the same without the support of teachers, parents, and mentors. We’re so grateful for the adults who have always affirmed, celebrated, and uplifted our youth leaders. Similarly, YOI’s work couldn’t exist without our tireless volunteers, staff, and community partners. Thank you so much for all your support throughout the years. None of this would be possible without it. Last year, our small staff grew to accommodate new visions, new plans. We are beyond thrilled to congratulate Loan for their new role as director, as well as welcome Santos, Anthony, and Babette onto staff.
2017 is finally here. In the new year, YOI will host a high school fellowship program to support student activism on campuses. We will continue our fight against SROs (cops) in schools and for liberation for Black and Brown, LGBTQ, poor, and immigrant students. In the wake of fears and anxiety about the future, we all need reminders that we have the power to shape our own narratives. We have the support and resilience of our community and the strength and tactics of those who came before us. With our collective people power, we will speak up, stand up, and fight back.