Together with our funding partners, through the Leading Edge Fund, we are supporting bold organizers and brave advocates who are organizing to win fundamental rights, protections, and opportunities for California’s Black, Brown, immigrant, and historically marginalized communities.
We are recognizing and lifting an incredible group of organizers and powerhouses who are engaged in deep change work, creating new possibilities for communities of color to mobilize, share radical ideas, and heal.
In March, we shared updates on three of our 2022-2024 fellows. This month, we are spotlighting three more of our incredible fellows and their most recent work: Malkia Devich-Cyril, Nicole Lee, and Krea Gomez.
We hope these ongoing updates offer insight into the transformative work these progressive movement leaders are engaged in, creating bold new narratives, organizing and training a new generation of activists, and so much more.
Founding and former Executive Director and Senior Fellow
The Leading Edge Fund is supporting Malkia to launch a Radical Loss Movement that mobilizes bereaved Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other communities of color. Through the movement, Malkia is building a practice of grief that can fuel transformative change, and replace racialized policies and practices that punish and disenfranchise grief.
Since January 2022, they have held a “Freedom Cleanse,” which organized more than 150 changemakers into a community of practice, and “Pandemic Joy,” which organizes 227 changemakers for a weekly online gathering with meditations, libations, singing, and testifying. Last year, they also held an eight-week grief support circle for teachers and staff with Butte County Public Schools, and held a national five-day retreat on grief, crises, and movement culture for 23 people. They also publicly spoke about a frame they created called e-carceration, which describes how technologies like ankle monitors and apps are expanding incarceration beyond prison walls.
Since the beginning of this year, Malkia has supported foundations like the Leeway Foundation, Just City Cultural Fund, and the Solidaire Network to incorporate grief work and healing justice approaches into racial justice grantmaking. They worked with Liberation Ventures Narrative Lab initiative on racial justice/reparations grief narratives and worked with California Power Building Infrastructure Center’s on their healing justice and sustainable work culture.
Malkia is publishing their book Radical Loss, which explores the role of grief inside of social movements as well as the capacity of grief and grief narratives to transform and change our conditions.
“We must tear down the systems, institutions and narratives that engineer death, fuel it and simultaneously distract us from it. This essential rebalancing act is the charge of 21st century social justice movements..” – Malkia Devich-Cyril
Urban Peace Movement
As a fourth-generation Oakland native and long-time activist, Nicole is deeply committed to ending youth incarceration in Alameda County and developing the leadership of the next generation of activists who are reimagining an entirely new youth justice system across California. Her organization Urban Peace Movement is building youth leadership in Oakland to end community violence and mass incarceration in Black and Brown communities.
As part of that work, Urban Peace Movement is one of the anchor organizations for Free Our Kids Coalition, a multi-ethnic coalition centering youth leadership and directly impacted communities to create a reimagined youth justice model.
This year, Free Our Kids hosted an “End Youth Incarceration: A Vision to Heal Our Communities” town hall, which was designed to uplift a 10-point plan to end youth incarceration in Alameda County. Designed by young people, the plan lays out a vision and set of values to create an entirely new approach to youth justice. Nearly 250 people attended the event, including Alameda County Chief Public Defender Brendon Woods, Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price, Oakland City Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas, and representatives from various Boards of Supervisors and Oakland City Council offices. The program was led almost exclusively by youth leaders.
Urban Peace Movement hosted a healing and wellness pop-up this year called “Scratch and Fade,” during which they treated over 150 community members and youth to free nail, barber, massage, reiki, acupuncture, cupping, art-making, and elder blessing appointments. Urban Peace Movement also held a second annual “Town Up Tuesday” event in Oakland to celebrate joy, peace, justice, belonging, and people power. Over 2,000 people attended the event this year to enjoy Oakland’s music culture and rich community and learn about community-led safety.
“We are fighting for a complete reimagining of the way we do youth justice in Oakland and Alameda County, and ultimately a world that moves away from punishment, criminalization, and incarceration, and centers the health and wellness for youth of color — once and for all.” – Nicole Lee
Christina “Krea” Gomez
Co-founder of Sister Warriors; Alum of Young Women’s Freedom Center
Krea’s Leading Edge vision is to replace punitive and dehumanizing systems with a comprehensive new architecture that provides young people with the support and resources they need to address their trauma, and to heal and thrive.
In 2022, Krea delved into research, interviewing and convening violence interventionists and crisis response workers who are often the first to respond to youth and family conflicts in communities – often before police. Through these conversations, Krea is exploring what youth and families experience, how interventionists can support them, and what skills and resources they use to avoid contact with law enforcement. In 2022, Krea’s findings helped secure $200,000 in funding to hire seven mentors at a livable wage through the San Francisco Human Rights Commission. The mentors work to support youth and their families and deter them from entering the system by providing them with comprehensive support.
This year, Krea is creating a report on her findings, which will include interventionists’ day-to-day practices, trainings, tools, challenges, and recommendations for improvement.
Krea also collaborated with a group of San Francisco Public Defenders, criminal justice and juvenile justice activists, and organizers working on housing and substance abuse and rehabilitation to discuss current media narratives that are targeting Black and Brown communities. The event, “Interrupting Propaganda,” brought over 100 people to UC Hastings to discuss possible ideas for narrative change.
“True public safety does not mean there is zero conflict or crime. It’s the presence of a community committed to taking care of every community member. It will take us all to create the community we deserve. ” – Krea Gomez