If Only HB 142 Was An April Fool’s Joke

One day prior to International Trans Day of Visibility, Governor Roy Cooper signed HB 142, which although touted as a “compromise” to the anti-trans House Bill 2, still fails to protect trans and gender non-conforming citizens. It actively barrs cities from creating their own non-discrimination ordinances, whether it be for public bathrooms, schools, or the workplace. Read the (short) bill here.

YOI in March: SVA All-Member Gathering

A few members of staff represented YOI at the first annual Southern Vision Alliance (SVA) All-Member Gathering at Haw River State Park! SVA supports 16 member organizations, including YOI, Ignite NC, and Muslims for Social Justice. We were able to learn from some of these amazing organizers doing necessary work across the state and think about ways we can plug in, as well. #LessEgoMoreImpact.

“SVA is committed to building the capacity and power of youth-led and youth-centered organizations and movements knowing that often, young people are not given the space and resources to facilitate change.”

Upcoming Community Events

April 2nd, 2017. Durham Solidarity Center Open House & 7th Anniversary! “Come out for the Durham Solidarity Center’s 7th anniversary celebration and open house at our new space on April 2! We’ll have a DJ, food, art, and more – plus the chance to meet and learn about the work that many local organizations are doing in our community.” 2:00pm at the Durham Solidarity Center. Find more information here.

April 4th, 2017. Pack the Courthouse for Rahrah! “RahRah is facing 12 years in prison for being a Black Trans Womxn! we must show up for our sister.let’s PACK the courthouse to show these pigs that the entire community supports RahRah and will fight for her freedom.“ 1:30pm at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse! Find more information here.

April 7th, 2017. First Friday Potluck & Game Night. “Join us for the first of many First Friday Potluck & Game Nights at the NEW Durham Solidarity Center! We’ve got lots of games, including co-operative and kids games, but feel free to bring more! If you can, please bring a dish to share. BYOB.“ 6:00pm at the Durham Solidarity Center. Find more information here.

April 7th, 2017. Blackspace Presents: The GRAND Slam Finals! “It’s here! Durham’s youth slam season ends on April 7th with the creation of the FIRST slam team out of the Bull City to apply to Brave New Voices! All of our slams throughout the season have doubled as fundraisers to get to Brave New Voices in the Bay Area, California. This one is no different. Instead of passing the hat, we’re selling tickets. Every single ticket sold will go to the transportation, lodging and meals to the team members (and their coaches).” 7:00pm at Hayti Heritage Center. Find more information here.

April 10th, 2017. Polyphony: a poetry reading by Destiny Hemphill. “Join local poet Destiny Hemphill in celebrating her admission to Callaloo’s Writing Workshop in Barbados! She will be reading from newer works as well as from her retrospective chapbook polyphony, which will be available as a gift with purchase of a ticket. To purchase, click on the link at the Beyu Caffe website. “ 6:30pm at Beyu Cafe. Find more information here.

April 14th, 2017. Movies N’ Cornbread. “This month at BLACKSPACE CHAPEL HILL, (179 E Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC) we’re watching The Wiz. As you know, in the original Wizard of Oz there are no Black actors and actresses whatsoever. The Wiz corrects this with an all Black cast. Movies and Cornbread is a monthly fundraiser for Blackspace Poetry. All donations support our weekly after school programs and help send our first poetry team to Brave New Voices, the largest youth poetry competition in the world.” 6:30pm at Blackspace Chapel Hill. Find more information here.

April 15th, 2017. Trans & GNC Closet. “CELEBRATING trans, intersex, gender non-conforming, gender variant, and agender folx, we are creating an affirming space to build our wardrobes and community. This is a monthly program hosted by the LGBTQ Center of Durham. Transgender, intersex, agender, gender variant, and non-conforming people of all ages are invited to attend, grab free clothes, and hang out at the Center. Light refreshments will be provided.” Find more information here.

April 15th, 2017. Bilingual Nonviolent Direct Action Training. “To help us prepare to be even more powerful and adaptive in the present moment, our next day-long workshop will be a nonviolent direct action​ ​training​ ​intensive on Saturday, April 15th. This participatory workshop will include reflection on current direct action work, and a whole lot of practice with our bodies. / Para ayudar a prepararnos para ser aún más poderosxs y adaptables en el momento actual, nuestro próximo taller de un día entero será un entrenamiento de acción directa sin violencia el sábado 15 de abril. Este taller participativo incluirá una reflexión sobre el trabajo actual de acción directa, y mucha práctica utilizando nuestros propios cuerpos.” 10am in Durham (register for location). Find more information here.

Sundays in April. Weekly Queer Beginning Aerials. Queer adults can support queer & trans youth by coming out to Queer Youth Circus’s adult beginner classes. Drop-in any day and you’ll learn at your own pace beginner partner acrobatics or moves on the trapeze, aerial silks, and lyra. 12pm at Triangle Circus Arts. Find more information here.

What Happened to Jasmine Darwin?

What Happened to Jasmine Darwin?

State investigators are still looking into the case of a police officer who slammed a Rolesville High School student to the floor. While National attention has been placed on school policing since a nine-second video was posted on Twitter on Jan. 3 showing a Rolesville Police Officer picking up student Jasmine Darwin and dropping her to the floor. The Police Officer has been placed on PAID leave.

In response to the video, Wake County Commissioner Jessica Holmes organized a community meeting on the school-to-prison pipeline. She is interested in starting a conversation whether we should have school resource officers in our schools and, if we do, what should be their role.

Questions still exist about what happened at Rolesville High School.
An attorney for Darwin’s family says the student had been trying to break up a fight between two other girls when she was “slammed on the ground like a rag doll” and suffered a concussion.

The presence of police in schools has escalated dramatically in the last several decades, and the figures on arrests and referrals to law enforcement show disproportionate targeting of Black and Latino students. This is just one aspect of the school-to-prison pipeline, where some students are denied an opportunity to succeed, and instead are pushed out of school and into the juvenile or criminal justice system.

The Dignity in Schools Campaign has developed a set of policy recommendations for schools, districts, states and federal policy-makers to end the regular presence of law enforcement in schools.

The Dignity in Schools Campaign has developed the following recommendations for schools, districts, states and federal policy-makers:

1. End the Regular Presence of Law Enforcement in Schools
We are calling for removal of any law enforcement personnel assigned to be present on a regular basis in schools, including sworn officers (and unsworn if they are armed security), municipal police officers, school police officers, school resource officers (SROs), sheriff’s deputies, parole and probation officers, tribal officers, truancy officers, ICE officers or other immigration officials and armed security guards.

2. Create Safe Schools through Positive Safety and Discipline Measures
Instead, school staff trained to ensure safe and positive school climates, such as community intervention workers, peacebuilders, behavior interventionists, transformative or restorative justice coordinators, school aides, counselors and other support staff, can and do prevent and address safety concerns and conflicts. These staff monitor school entrances and ensure a welcoming environment, respond to the root causes of conflict and disruptive behaviors, prevent and intervene to stop intergroup and interethnic tension, and address students’ needs.

3. Restrict the Role of Law Enforcement that are Called in to Schools

On those rare occasions when it is appropriate for law enforcement to enter a school building, there should be agreements with police departments that limit the cases when law enforcement can be called in to a school, with particular safeguards in place to ensure students’ rights to education and dignity are protected, in addition to their constitutional rights to counsel and due process.

The Solutions Not Suspensions team is looking to bring visibility and credibility to these recommendations. If you have any suggestions or want to get involved, contact as at Campaign@empoweryouthnc.org.

Post-HKonJ Youth Power Assembly + What’s New

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Happy Black History Month!

First off, we’re hosting a Post-HKonJ Youth Power Assembly with IgniteNC! Open for all young people wanting to build a collective platform powered by the fight for liberation for all. We’re up against a lot under a new presidency so we’ll be building our toolkits with skills and strategies crucial to maintaining our momentum.

There were a lot of amazing ideas, connections, and collaborations made there last year. Let’s continue, and envision this year with youth organizers from all across NC!

Pizza provided.

11am to 4pm at Shaw University, Raleigh, NC. Room TBA.

    YOI In January

Beyond organizing the Assembly, over the past month YOI has been working to support the youth of Wake County with our Press Conference with EJA regarding the police officer assault on a black student at Rolesville High. We (along with many of you!) contacted various officials about the matter on Twitter. Check out the response: #CounselorsNotCops.

Towards the end of the month, we spoke at Center for School Improvement’s Leadership Institute to discuss the importance of restorative justice practices in schools. We will be continuing this work with a workshop on the #Rolesville High incident. More information soon! Keep on the lookout.


January was also the month we settled into our new office! We’re very lucky to share this space with many other radical community organizations. We’re enormously grateful for our years at the Hayti Heritage Center and everything we’ve been able to create there! Contact Anthony at anthony@empoweryouthnc.org if you’d like to stop by our new location.


Thank you to everyone who showed up in January amongst an onslaught of new attacks against Muslim immigrants and refugees, Black and Brown youth, women, and LGBTQ folks, and many intersections thereof. We’re grateful to have you fighting alongside us.

    More Upcoming Events

February 5th, 2017. Speak Out In Solidarity with Immigrant Youth. Come out to iNSIDE oUT’s Youth March for #JessieHernadez, a Latina youth murdered by police and whose killer was not indicted. 4:30pm at the LGBT Center of Durham. Find more information here.

February 5th, 2017. The Black Girls and Women Matter Town Hall Planning Committee will host a Town Hall in order to elevate the voices and experiences of black girls and women in Greensboro. 12pm at James B. Dudley High School. Find more information here.

Sundays in February. Queer Adult Aerials & Acro Class. Queer adults can support queer & trans youth by coming out to Queer Youth Circus’s adult beginner classes. Drop-in any day and you’ll learn at your own pace beginner partner acrobatics or moves on the trapeze, aerial silks, and lyra. Acro at 11am or Aerials 12pm at Triangle Circus Arts. Find more information here.

2016 Reflections

Dear Community,

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.

2016 Teen Convening

2016 Teen Convening

2016 Raleigh Freedom School

2016 Raleigh Freedom School

2016 DSC Congressional Hearing

2016 DSC Congressional Hearing

Ella Baker Gala 2016!

2016 Gala Honorees

Thank you to everyone who came out for our end-of-the-year hurrah! We had an amazing time celebrating youth and adults allies, cultivating intergenerational conversations, and reflecting on another busy year.

We honored Assata, a Freedom School alum, who protested with other students for the right to wear head wraps in Durham County Schools.

As well as Holly Hardin, an educator in Durham who fought this year along many other educators to stop the deportations of undocumented students, like Wildin Acosta.

Thank you so much for your dedication and resilience! There’s many, many other youth organizers and allies who shaped this past year. For everyone: thank you. We are all needed as we march into the new year.

This night wouldn’t have been possible without so many staff members (past and present), volunteers, and supporters. Thank you to everyone who donated to make another year of wins possible!

group at Gala linking arms