#BlackHistoryToday 22 Leaders to Follow in 2022

Black Leadership has long paved the way for progress — socially, economically and environmentally — not just in their communities but for everybody in America. Over the years, the Office of Kat Taylor has had the opportunity to learn from, and partner with, many dynamic leaders across the country and particularly in California. From capital transformation to regenerative agriculture, school meals for all to consumer banking protections, philanthropic reform to representative storytelling, Black leaders are developing deep community connections that reverberate far and wide. 

We are honoring 22 leaders for 2022 and the history they’re paying forward today. They serve as a beacon of hope for the future. #BlackHistoryToday

 

      • Harold Mitchell is a current member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council. His work over the last 30+ years with the ReGenesis Project has become a global model for how frontline communities, often black and brown, can respond to environmental racism and pollution as well as economical disinvestment. Mitchell and his family faced these issues firsthand as victims of the toxins of  pollution in Spartanburg, South Carolina and galvanized their community to parley a $20,000 EPA grant into $300 million of reinvestment into their now flourishing community. 
      • Harold inspired others to achieve political office and he himself was elected to the SC State House of Representatives for two terms. Our work together birthed the ReGenesis Institute , which aims to provide a playbook and support for frontline communities like Harold’s the guidance they need to lead and to thrive.  As more such communities come into the ReGenesis fold, the Good Life Pledge can provide grant support and balance sheet strength for broad community and individual prosperity
      • Doria Robinson is the Executive Director of Urban Tilth and a founding member of the Richmond Power Coalition. Her organization hires and trains local residents to help the Richmond community build a more sustainable, healthy, and just food system for low-income communities of color. Recently, Urban Tilth secured ownership of a farm in Richmond where they have been investing for years, to become the heart of Food Sovereignty in their community. 
      • Our team has had the privilege of supporting Robinson’s work through Growing the Table, which serves to feed communities in need with organic, local produce during the pandemic while also supporting largely BIPOC small to mid-scale farmers to bridge them into the Post-Covid Food System. Urban Tilth is one of the Good Life Pledge communities to receive a capital absorption grant as well as the pledge of philanthropic assets that will allow the community to access low-cost capital to generate economic resiliency, mutual aid toward self-determination, and community wealth.  
      • This power family serves in honor of their Mother and Mother-in Law, Nettie Mae Morrison, the Matriarch at the heart of the Allensworth Progressive Association (APA), for decades. The non-profit APA was established to defend, support, and perpetuate Allensworth, the first community in California formed and financed by black Americans in Tulare County.  Such a beloved community arose such that anti-black forces first assassinated the founder Colonel Allensworth and then presided over myriad and ongoing inflictions of injustice and terror on the feisty town.
      •  Over decades, APA has tried to recover from the removal of the railroad spur and the basis for sustainable commerce to the draining of Lake Tulare by big AG interests to many polluting impositions like 17,000 dairy cow operations on their flank.  Both Growing the Table and The Good Life pledge (Allensworth is one of the Good Life Pledge communities that Kat supports) continue to partner with the APA and community led equitable community economic development  to rebuild what was once to be the Tuskegee of the West and thriving Black mecca.
      • Hutson is a former Air Force Chaplain and United Methodist Minister who decided to start TAC Farm while visiting his mother’s home in Allensworth, CA.  Allensworth was the first Black town founded in California in 1908, and is currently considered a food desert where access to basic necessities requires a 30-mile round trip to the nearest grocery store. Hutson started TAC farm to help create an economic base for the community as well as educate residents and visitors about regenerative agriculture. Allensworth is one of Kat’s Good Life Pledge communities
      • Superintendent Thurmond is the second African American to hold the office of California State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and the fourth African American to win statewide office. As State Superintendent of California, he made history in supporting and securing permanent funding for School Meals for all of California’s 6.2 million public education students. 
      • We’ve been fortunate to work with Superintendent Thurmond’s office through the School Meals For All Coalition, 208 organizations spanning support from labor, healthcare, economy, climate and environment in addition to of course food, agriculture and education. We will bring whatever we can to support full implementation of values based universal meals in CA public schools for the sake of the kids and a beneficial food supply chain.  
      • Natalie Baszile is the prodigious author of the hit series, Queen Sugar, as well as of the companion landscape survey of food sovereignty as sought by frontline black and brown communities across America in We Are Each Others’ Harvest.  Her work in telling untold stories of these farmers trying to reinstate traditional regenerative food ways is a clarion call for all who seek to return to a food system that is just, climate restorative and economically resilient . 
      • Our Growing the Table team, as well as TomKat MeDiA, has had the pleasure of working with Natalie to raise awareness about our country’s history of slave labor, stolen land, and cultural extermination all to illuminate exactly the regenerative agriculture practices  we now need desperately to re-sequester carbon and to achieve food sovereignty for all.  Her compendium of work reveals  how a new generation of Black, Indigenous, and other farmers of color are going back to the future to restore a more equitable food system.  
      • Anasa Troutman is the founder of The Big WE Foundation which stewards the renaissance of the Historic Clayborn Temple in Memphis TN where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his last address. Troutman is developing a new body of work called The Southern Shift Initiative, which is working to shift the culture of the economy of the South, focused on Black land ownership, business development, sacred governance, and self-determination, through community-led equitable economic development
      • As a Senior Fellow at the Movement Strategy Center, Anasa continued her path of innovation, bringing her music industry and political organizing experience together to create Culture Shift.  Culture Shift leverages Anasa’s skill as a creative and knowledge as a strategist to articulate, implement, and share a transformative, culture-based and visionary approach to social impact.
      • Arnie Sowell Jr. is the Executive Director of NextGen Policy, a nonprofit that  advances progressive policy solutions across a range of areas including climate change, affordable housing, education, criminal justice reform, immigration, voting rights, food insecurity, and income inequality.  As a sister organization, we successfully worked together to secure passage of School Meals For All and expand California’s broadband infrastructure and connectivity. 
      • Under Arnie’s leadership since NGP’s founding five years ago, NGP has been involved in the passage of over 200 progressive policies, supported and partnered with over 100 state and local organizations, and helped to secure many billions of dollars in the state budget for priority programs.
      • This mother-daughter duo lead the Los Angeles Tenant Unions-Baldwin Crenshaw, Leimert Park local efforts. Their work during the pandemic has been focused on combating illegal evictions by landlords. Growing the Table partnered with the Jones’ during the pandemic and associated economic shutdown to provide organic, whole foods to individuals impacted by the housing crisis. 
      • Since being elected to the LA County Board of Supervisors on November 3rd, 2020, Supervisor Mitchell has made poverty alleviation a countywide priority and has anchored an equitable recovery plan from the health and economic crisis caused by COVID-19. Within her first year as Supervisor and with support from the County Board of Supervisors, Mitchell passed a landmark guaranteed universal income program, made LA County the first in the nation to phase out urban oil drilling and strengthened the County’s ability to quickly respond to mental health crises among our unhoused residents.
      • Supervisor Mitchell was also the first African American to serve as Chair of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee. Under her guidance, she helped the State of California successfully build its financial reserves with the passage of three consecutive state budgets–each totaling over $200 billion.
      • During the pandemic, Leonard Diggs has been focused on organizing regional farmers to be able to distribute free, ready-made, nutritional, healthy, culturally appropriate food at school meal distribution sites for under-resourced families in San Mateo County, California. Leonard’s work is based at  Pie Ranch, a fellow regenerative Agriculture neighbor to TomKat Ranch in Pescadero, CA
      • Jackson is Co-Executive Director of Inside Circle which provides opportunities for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people to heal and serve both themselves and others. Jackson seeks to reduce recidivism and all forms of violence – physical, emotional, and psychological – in prisons and communities. Inside Circle is one of the Good Life Pledge communities supported by our team as they develop a sustainable, equitable community of residence and practice in San Francisco
      • Felecia Gaston founded Performing Stars in 1990 with the belief that providing involvement in art, music, theater, and other enrichment experiences for low-income and opportunity youth would help them “reach for the stars” as they matured. She is also the Director of the Phoenix Project, which provides integrated mentoring and training services to capitalize on career and leadership opportunities for  youth and adult men of color.
      • Catherine Coleman Flowers is an environmental and climate justice activist bringing attention to the largely invisible problem of inadequate waste and water sanitation infrastructure in rural communities in the United States. Flowers currently serves as Vice Chair of The White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council. In 2020, Flowers was awarded the prestigious MacArthur Foundation Genius grant. Kat serves on the board of her advocacy organization, CREEJ, the Center for Rural Economic and Environmental Justice.  
      • Gant is the Founder/Executive Director of Green Technical Education and Employment (Green Tech), which provides academic, clean tech, and regenerative agriculture education to economically disadvantaged communities and especially youth. GreenTech is developing one of the first electrical vehicle mobility hub in a low-income community. Growing the Table has worked with Simeon on Organics produce distribution to Sacramento residents in need.
      • Lewis serves as the Executive Director of Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon, which provides training, resources, and financial support to low-income entrepreneurs so they can build wealth and prosperity.
      • MESO was formed in 2005 as a grassroots initiative under The Black United Fund of Oregon. The pilot program, which assisted local small business owners facing challenges as a result of gentrification, was so successful that MESO branched off in 2008 with the mission of empowering its clients to build family wealth through small business ownership.
      • Erika Alexander is beloved for her iconic acting roles as Maxine Shaw in Living Single and in the TomKat MeDiA supported film La Mission.  She is also a force for reform of the Hollywood systems as a producer and director via her venture, Color Farm Media (CFM). CFM produced the renowned film Good Trouble, the Story of John Lewis, and has recently been developing a documentary called Dear Evanston, which chronicles the first passage of reparations in America, which is also supported by TomKat MeDiA. 
      • Aside from being the NBA celebrity “IT” couple, these two head up the Eat.Learn.Play. Foundation, which works to unlock the potential of every child by fighting to end childhood hunger, ensuring students have access to a quality education, and providing safe places for all children to play and be active. We partner with Eat.Learn.Play. via Growing the Table, The School Meals for All Coalition, and Oakland Unified School District Central Kitchen modernization and associated programs. 
    • Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter is a Democratic member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, representing District 66 in Orangeburg County as the first African American woman elected to the State House from there. She is the former President of The National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL), the nation’s premier organization serving the interests of over 700 African American State Legislators from across the United States. 
    • Rep. Cobb-Hunter has also partnered closely with former fellow state rep Harold Mitchell and the ReGenesis Project and Institute, which is developing a model for frontline communities to cultivate public-private investments. (See Harold Mitchell above.) Our team currently works with Rep.Cobb-Hunter through the ReGenesis Institute.

 

      • Smith is the Director of Land Stewardship for The White Buffalo Trust and is guiding the development of their flagship farm as well as working with contractors and partners to responsibly manage the land. His expertise in agricultural system design and community engagement are paramount to achieve a systemic paradigm shift towards a regenerative food economy and ecology.
      • Mamie Lang Kirkland was born in Ellisville, Mississippi in 1908. Mamie still remembers the panic that filled her family’s home in 1915 when her father and his friend, John Hartfield, had returned urging them all to flee an approaching lynch mob. They resettled in East St. Louis, Illinois where they endured the anti-black riots in 1917 and then migrated to Alliance, Ohio as the Red Summer of violence erupted in 1919. Her story is being captured in a documentary supported by our media partner, TomKat MeDiA, entitled  “100 Years From Mississippi”.
      • Wole Coaxum is the founder of MoCaFi, which provides free or low-cost financial services to under-resourced communities typically discriminated against by the banking system. Our partner organization, Radicle Impact, works with MoCaFi in their mission to provide economic mobility for Black and Brown communities, a critical step in addressing our nation’s severe and worsening racial wealth gap.
    • Symone managed Beneficial State Foundation’s digital engagement strategy, including social media, blogs, and website, as a member of the Strategic Communications team. She is passionate about supporting community-led solutions to help build a just and equitable world. Symone has recently embarked on her own venture “Digital Strategy by Symone”.