Uplifting Change 2015 Shines a Light on the Importance of Youth Activism

by Anonymous (not verified) on March 01, 2015

by Crystal Shaw



DSC01590 Advancement Project Co-Director, Judith Browne Dianis



LOS ANGELES– February 26, 2015 – Liberty Hill Foundation’s annual Uplifting Change Luncheon took place at the Los Angeles Athletic Club in Downtown L.A. Punctuated by the words from keynote speaker, Co-Director of the Advancement Project Judith Browne Dianis, the event, by many accounts, was possibly the most inspiring yet.

The program opened with a speech from Liberty Hill president and CEO, Shane Goldsmith Murphy, who expressed how deeply personal the cause of fighting for racial justice was to her – that it was actually in her bloodline. She shared the story of how her father used activism to fight for civil rights in the 60’s and is one of her great motivations for why she continues the fight for equality and justice today.


DSC01426 Black Lives Matter co-Founder, Patrisse Cullors-Brignac



Before Judith Browne Dianis addressed the room, Black Lives Matter movement co-founder Patrisse Cullors-Brignac spoke brilliantly about the origins of the movement and what motivated her to start it. Reaching all they way back to her youth, she lamented on how the treatment of Blacks that she’s seen starting with Rodney King when she was just 9 sparked a fire within her to organize. But there was one particular moment that stands out in life that has remained the inspiration for her activism.

“Part of my own story is that my brother was almost killed by the sheriff’s department. He was brutally beaten by the sheriffs when he was 19 years old in the county jails. It’s why I started the organization that I founded here in LA, which is called Dignity and Power Now … and that has everything to do with my story, has everything to do with what I witnessed as a 10 year old, 11 year old, 12 year old, so I think we’re in a generation where young Black people are seeing terrible acts of violence and any human is going to respond at their breaking point. And I think this is our country’s breaking point.”

Keynote speaker Judith Browne Dianis, who has an extensive background in civil rights litigation and advocacy in the areas of voting, education, housing and employment, delivered a timely and poignant talk with a keen focus on the need to support youth organizing, leadership and activism. She made note that the luncheon was taking place on the anniversary of Treyvon Martin’s death. One by one she read the last words of his and many other young Black men who died at the hands of law enforcement, adding to the magnitude of the reason why the time to act is now.

“The thing that I’m excited about is young people. The thing that I’m excited about is that there’s a generation of young people who have had enough. That moment that I’ve been looking for is right about now, and I’m living it.” Judith said.

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She ended her talk by inviting Patrisse to lead the room in a call and response chant by Assata Shakur that left many in the audience in tears.

One other impromptu moment came when Reinvent Communications CEO and Chief Strategist Vincent Jones, spontaneously challenged the audience to write checks to Liberty Hill’s upcoming Rapid Response fund for Racial Justice. Attendees did their part and gave generously to the fund, which will aim to get money on the ground expeditiously for those fighting on the frontlines.


DSC01577 - Copy (left) Associate Professor of Political Science and Gender Studies, USC, and Liberty Hill Board Member Ange-Marie Hancock (right) Chief Strategist & CEO, Reinvent Communications, Vincent Jones



Finally the tables broke into small discussions where each individual was given $5000 in mock money and charged with deciding what the next step should be in social justice. Several of the tables pulled their money together and agreed that strengthening the voice of the youth would be a main “next” issue on which to concentrate.

DSC01594 For more information on the work Liberty Hill is doing around youth leadership go here.

For more information on Liberty Hill's new Rapid Response Fund for Racial Justice or to donate to it go here and here.

Check out photos from 2015 Uplifting Change Luncheon.