Youth Organizing Institute Solidarity Statement with Youth of Color in Ferguson

Late Monday, Nov 24, 2014 it was announced that the grand jury in Missouri would not indict white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the racist killing of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old Black youth.

We know that for many in our communities, our families, for our peers and the young people we work with, this comes without much surprise. Still, even the most unsurprising things can hurt deeply.

The injustice system tells us our hurt is imaginary and outrage not justified but we know that we live in a system that relies on the mass denial of the harm caused by the historic scars and existing structures of colonialism, white supremacy, capitalism, sexism, and heteronormativity. We hold the ghosts of loved ones, ancestors, and heroes who have been assassinated by racist police, state tolerated vigilantes, and other repressive state entities.

We know that there are anti-black, anti-migrant policies that criminalize Black and Brown youth from the cradle to the classroom to our workplaces to the streets. We know that a lack of jobs, opportunities, and the school-to-prison-pipeline are stealing a generation of Black and Brown young people from our communities.

Even so, we know that from Ferguson to North Carolina, Black, Brown, poor, and working class communities are fighting back.  We have nothing but unrelenting solidarity for whatever ways that criminalized, dehumanized, occupied, and oppressed communities choose to do to respond. We believe in the power of Black, Brown, poor, and working class communities to shut down and transform the systems that harm, exploit, and divide us.

We see those we’ve loved and lost living on in the resistance of youth of color in Ferguson, in Durham, in Raleigh, in Cleveland. Chuy Huerta lives. Mike Brown lives. Tamir Rice lives. Renisha McBride lives.

We have witnessed unrest, resistance, and rebellion in Ferguson and all over the country since August. Over 100 consecutive days of protesting, marching, and taking to the streets has built tremendous power that has radiated from Ferguson to communities across the nation.  As we look to y’all over there we are continuously reminded about the possibility of transformation and justice we define for ourselves.

From North Carolina to Ferguson, from Youth Organizing Institute to Ferguson, we say without hesitation that Black Lives Matter and we are fighting for this to be our lived reality in the classrooms, in the courtrooms, in the streets, in our workplaces, in our neighborhoods, in our cities, in this country, in this world.

We are witnesses to y(our) grief, y(our) anger, y(our) undeniable power. We are with you.

November 1-15th: Media Round Up

Feeling some post-election blues? We hope that the stories, actions and updates below will keep our fire lit and help us continue our good fights.

Get Yr Rights Network!


Born out of conversations, workshops, surveys, and general kiki with LGBTQ youth organizations across the country, young people consistently identified the need for media, materials, and strategies in doing Know Your Rights (KYR) work.

Young people also identified needing more capacity to engage in KYR work – we believe that one way to build the capacity of organizations and groups to do this work is through having a network of support that folks can use as little or as much as they want to enhance their work.

– See more at:

Youth Organizing Institute and  NC HEAT are happy to be a member of the Get Yr Rights network! You can check out our profile here along with other resources and members across the country.

What do we have to say about the elections?

Check out Ignite NC’s election day coverage and their election day #emix!

Irving Allen, organizer and field director with Ignite NC: “This is your time to have your voice heard.”

We know that this election season, like many that came before them, have had millions of dollars poured into campaigns and candidates that have the interests of big money in their minds. Take this pledge if you believe we should put people over money.


Check out this open letter regarding tuition increases, from UNCG Professor Elizabeth Keathley to Chancellor Linda Brady.

The argument that UNCG is in dire financial straits is not supported by our own audited financial statements, which, placed in the context of IPEDS and other data, make it clear that, even as enrollment has decreased, UNCG’s endowment and reserves have grown (Bunsis, 32, 35); UNCG enjoys large excess cash flows (Bunsis, 38); and UNCG spends a grossly disproportionate amount of money from student fees and the general fund on our unsustainable athletics program (Bunsis,94, 97; on the futility of pursuing the “Gonzaga effect,” see Robert Malekoff, “Intercollegiate Athletics in Higher Education: A Sometimes Uneasy Alliance,” 29 January 2014)[…]

Want to know more about what the NC Student Power Union has been up to lately? You can check out their weekly update here.


We want to welcome the new youth who are joining the work of El Pueblo, Inc.

Students Documenting the School-to-Prison-Pipeline

Students working with Critical Exposure are taking photos of their Washington D.C. public school experience.

“Everyday students have to enter through the auditorium doors and place their backpacks on the X-Ray machine. Then they walk through the metal detector to meet their bag on the other side and then must wait for the bags to be searched by a security guard. This makes students feel as if we’re going inside a jail to meet someone, or as if the staff sees us as criminals. Statistics show that 70 percent of students [who are] involved in ‘in-school’ arrests or are referred to law enforcement are black or Latino. If DCPS [D.C. Public Schools] wants to lower these numbers then why do we have the same procedures of entering a jail [instead of] a comforting environment of being welcomed to school?” – Mike


Student Dispatch: From California to Ferguson to Connecticut


2. The Ferguson Repeal

On October 27, Miami’s Power U Center for Social Change joined Dream Defenders, the Ohio Student Association and the Organization for Black Struggle for #Ferguson2Orlando to demand a fundamental shift in the way police relate to our community away from programs like Department of Defense program 1033, which provides police departments surplus military weapons to govern our community and schools. Together, we demonstrated outside the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s annual convening demanding the demilitarization of police departments and repeal of the 1033 program. Moving forward, alongside the Miami Committee on State Violence, we seek restorative solutions for justice.

—Keno Walker

Mike Brown! ¡Presente!

Check out this #DigitalAltar for Mike Brown via

Please Share and Donate

A recent fire in Broadmoor, New Orleans took the lives of a youth that worked with Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools and her family members. We are sending the family condolences and are boosting this fundraiser  put on by her school, Andrew H. Wilson, to help cover funeral costs.

YOI FALL TRAINING: Make Art, Not Jails!

Fall Training FlierJoin us for our YOI FALL TRAINING: Make Art, Not Jails! Resisting the Prison Industrial Complex through Art.


We can provide food and transportation.
Questions or Concerns? (919) 760-7088

1408 Hillsborough St, Raleigh, NC

FRIDAY, DEC. 12 | 5:00PM – 9:00PM

  • Beyond the Prison Industrial Complex
  • Quiltmaking as an Abolitionist Tradition

SATURDAY, DEC. 13 | 11:00AM – 3PM

  • Embodying the Transformations We Desire: Theater of the Oppressed


October Media Round Up

Week of Action: Ending the School-to-Prison-Pipeline Media Recap

March to End the School-to-Prison-Pipeline

Week of Action Press Conference with YOI, NC HEAT and Education Justice Alliance (EJA)

Flipagram video by NC HEAT member Tavon 

  • We made the cover of The Triangle Tribune, you can read the coverage of our press conference here.
  • “As I grew older, it became more and more apparent that they (disciplinary actions) specifically affected the students of color, especially those from low-income households. It was always the Hispanic kids or the black kids being the ones in after-school detention or the ones getting into fights,” he said.

    Ramos said suspensions infringe on a student’s ability to learn. He said this cause is about the criminalization of an entire group of people both in the streets and in schools.

  • We also got coverage on our Week of Action and School-to-Prison-Pipeline on
  • “The stories of police violence in our schools and neighborhoods are too numerous to count. As young people in Wake, Durham, and Orange County public schools, we have witnessed unspeakable violence from police both on and off school grounds,” said Qasima Wideman said in the press release. “From Enloe High School students being brutalized and arrested under accusations of throwing water balloons to the family and friends of Jesus Huerta being tear gassed in the streets of Durham after he was killed while in police custody.”

  • Want to know more about actions that happened all across the country against the school-to-prison-pipeline? Check out Dignity In Schools Campaign’s Highlights!

North Carolina Students Walk Out for #DebtFreeUNC!


  • UNCG students rally against rising college costs, debts via News & Record
  • “Democrats and Republicans in Congress, they’re keeping the system this way,” Williams said. “They put it off another year instead of finding a solution.”
  • N.C. State students protest tuition, construction, shortened library hours via INDY Week’s news blog
  • The petition calls for the board to reduce student tuition and increase financial aid incrementally, so that “the 2020 class will graduate free of debt.” It also calls for a moratorium on cuts to faculty pay and funding for departments. 
  • NC Student Power Union holds first-ever walk out via Niner Online
  • “Their meetings are usually closed. They don’t allow public forum, they don’t allow students, parents or faculty and staff to speak on these issues that affect them on a daily basis. The decisions that are being made are made in a small room, by a small group of people, and you only hear about it through the news,” said D’atra Jackson, organizing director of NC Student Power Union.

Queer Youth are on the rise!

Come celebrate with us! The NC Queer Youth Power Coalition has been selected to be a part of INDY Week’s 2014 Give!Guide. 

Sunday, November 9th from 3-8pm at Person Street Bar

Check out this video from iNSIDEoUT about how AWESOME Pride was!

Want to see more young people doing awesome queer stuff at NC PRIDE? Help support the important work that iNSIDEoUT is doing by donating to their campaign today.

Yeah, we’re gonna Get Out the Vote!

Check out Ignite NC’s video mix featuring the important work they’re doing to make sure folks get to the polls.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

What’s keeping us moving

We want to say a special congratulations to LGBTQ families and couples living in North Carolina and places across the country where same-sex marriage bans have been recently overturned. You can read more about what went down in North Carolina here. The struggle continues! 

Melissa Harris-Perry commemorates transformative thinker and organizer with Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools, George Carter who was fatally shot last week after doing important work to make schools in New Orleans better for all students. 

#BlackLivesMatter: organizers, activists and community mobilized in Atlanta, shut down the highway and demanded that their voices be heard. 

#BlackLivesMatter demonstration on October 23rd, 2014

On the same day high school students in Berkeley were protesting police brutality

KARIN GOH/The Daily Californian

Remember the students protesting in Colorado against the whitewashing of their history classes?

The school district is now agreeing to give students and parents a voice in the curriculum review process.

September 12th-29th: Media Round-Up

Student News

Actions/Events: Upcoming and Recently 



  • Check out this powerful video from NCSPU’s fall conference: Stand Up, Fight Back!

Other important things!

September 1st-11th: Media Round-Up

This is YOI’s inaugural media round-up! Check in every other week to find a collection of articles, blog posts, art and media from our YOI alums/grads, community partners and allies and relevant movement updates in North Carolina, across the South and what’s inspiring us from all over the country and world–with a particular focus on the struggles youth, people of color, LGBTQ youth and working class youth are fighting!

We hope that this will be an opportunity to uplift the work we are doing as well as more proactively archiving and documenting our struggles!

From our Youth and Staff

  • Our staff member Sanyu Shares a short reflection on her recent trip to Portland, OR for a members convening with Dignity in Schools Campaign.
  • Our staff member Q wrote a piece entitled “Intersections: Young, Black and Queer” that’s been published on Nubian Message about the intersections of Blackness and Queerness. Check it out!!!

    For all people of color at N.C. State, a desk in a classroom where we’re the only brown dot on the horizon can feel like a desert island. The need for community, support, and shared understanding and experiences is something we have all felt deeply; but for queer Black folks, that need is experienced to the power of two.

  • One of our Freedom School graduates, Ajamuito, wrote a short piece on the importance of solidarity with Ferguson and Palestine! You can read it here.

    The killing of Mike Brown is nothing new to our community, in fact it happens quiet often, and unarmed people of color are being killed by the police nation-wide and nothing is changing.

Student News

Actions/Events: Upcoming and Recently 

  • Durham Solidarity Center where YOI is housed kicks off Solidarity September! Check out their newsletter (which mentions a “DING DONG! ART POPE IS GONE!” Dance Party)

Other important things!

  • Check out Hands Up United to keep up with what’s happening in Ferguson, MO!

Dignity in School Campaign Convening – Sanyu G.

On August 9 to 11th we had a small convening in Portland, Oregon with our national partners in the Dignity in School Campaign.  Together we had valuable workshops media campaigns, base building and on collecting school discipline statistic from all school districts. Most of the workshop were led by fellow DSC members from community groups, DSC staff and youth.  Aside from skill-building workshops we attended several panels in which parents and young members shared their experiences and local findings about the various way the School to Prison Pipeline is impacting their community. They also presented stories of resistance and tactics to build awareness and win policy victories.  Finally, we attended a meeting with the Portland school district administration that was organized by DSC members in the Portland Parent Union. Local Portland parents, students and the DSC member from all over the country gathered to share how we are combating the school to prison pipelines. We started the meeting by singing the Freedom Side song and talking about the work that is being done across the US to reform punitive school discipline codes both on the local and national level. Lastly, the meeting opened up to the Portland school districts administration including the superintendent, child services heads and several principals. All of which expressed dedication to working with the community to end the school to prison pipeline.


Ferguson & Palestine Solidarity by Ajamuito Dillahunt

Ajamu is one our Freedom School graduates. In the blog post below he writes about why it’s been important for him as an African-American teenager to show up in solidarity with communities in Ferguson and Palestine. 

After the killing of unarmed Mike Brown, it deeply impacted the African-American community. It brought a major uprising in Ferguson, which the town has a past of killing unarmed African-Americans and known for racism. For example, Ferguson is sixty-nine percent Black, but those in power are majority white. While the people of Ferguson were protesting against the injustices that they have been facing, the police force who is dominated by white Americans used tear-gas, rubber bullets, militarized tanks and other high class war tactics as if the people of Ferguson were criminals or dangerous.

A couple of weeks after his murder there was a solidarity rally in Raleigh, NC for our brothers and sisters in Ferguson. It was significant that I was in attendance, being that I’m a young African-American who notices the racial injustices in this country. Ever since the shooting I have heard many white Americans try to dehumanize the life of Mike Brown and the struggles of people of color across the country. The killing of Mike Brown is nothing new to our community, in fact it happens quiet often, and unarmed people of color are being killed by the police nation-wide and nothing is changing. We face racial discrimination, police brutality, mass incarceration, school-to-prison pipeline, etc. These injustices affect our community daily. I can personally say I am tired of it, fired up and refuse to take it anymore. I refuse to stand for systematic racism; I refuse to stop fighting until my people are free. Enough is enough. Until we address the issue of race in this country, until we address white privilege and white supremacy, this country will never move forward. BLACK LIVES MATTER!

I also attended a Palestine solidarity rally where a family friend pointed out to me the similar struggles of African-American and Palestinians. This increased my knowledge on how inhumane these acts were. Additionally, throughout the protesting in Ferguson and the tear-gas the community has had a great deal of support from the Palestinian people on how to overcome the effects of tear-gas. It is essential that the Black community stand with Palestine in their fight for self-determination! We both are going through similar things and “the oppressed speak the same language.”

The United States government funds billions of dollars for Israel war-crimes with our tax dollars, so not only is it an International issue but in fact it is a local issue. Over Two-Thousand Palestinians have been killed, a lot of their land being taken away from them, being restricted on things they can and cannot do. Sounds very similar to what Black people have faced in this country. The PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) has showed a great deal of support to the Black Liberation movement as well as support to overcome the oppressive apartheid South Africa government.

It is time we unite the struggles both Palestinians and African-Americans, because when the people unite, we can never be defeated! We must know who are allies are in these difficult times. It is time to end the occupation, in Palestine and here in the United States! We charge the United States and Israel with GENOCIDE!!!