We are based in the San Francisco Bay Area of Northern California and dedicated to education, awareness and advocacy for Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects all students from racial harassment and discrimination based on race, color, ethnicity, nation of origin, and religion. Last year, I happened to see a post on social media about two young students who had been suspended for wearing African headwraps to school. I couldn't scroll by this, as I knew it was illegal and racist. I reached out to them on social media, and that started a partnership and advocacy campaign that grew into a friendship.
Delanie Seals and Is'Abella Miller made national headlines as they fought to change a discriminatory school policy barring the wearing of headwraps in their town of Ada, Oklahoma. These young women faced a school administration that would rather suspend them and deny them their education than allow them to wear headwraps, which they categorized as a "safety issue." These brave young people stood up against their school administration and the district for years, to protect and uphold the right to cultural expression for Black students.
Not stopping there, they have developed a legislative proposal to end racial and cultural expression discrimination in all schools in Oklahoma, similar to the CROWN Act, and are working their way through the State Legislature. Being members of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations, they want to insure that all BIPOC attend schools free from discrimination and harassment, as Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 guarantees.
Delanie and Is'Abella were instrumental in organizing Black Lives Matter protests in Ada, started an Intersectional Activists Facebook group with over 1200 members, have partnered with the NAACP, and are currently engaged in police reform talks with their city council, to demand accountability. Their families have been personally affected by police violence.
As I watched them graduate on Zoom, I saw many white students receive ample scholarships. I saw these two young women who had done so much for their community, passed by without a second thought. When I asked them where they were attending college, they said they hoped to. When I asked why it was a question, they informed me that with all they have accomplished, they are both struggling with socio economic conditions that make college a "maybe". Both of them work low wage jobs where they earn between $7 and $11 per hour. Delanie has endured racial slurs and verbal harassment at work. Structural racism means that white students in their graduating class received scholarships of up to $40,000 while BIPOC students largely received nothing, with a few receiving a one time scholarship of $500-$1500. This is not justice. This is not equity.
Black Lives Matter, and while we honor those who have been stolen from us, we must uplift and uphold Living Black Lives. These young women have demonstrated, time and again, their commitment to social justice and racial equity. They stand to change the entire state of Oklahoma. Let's remove the barriers set up by structural racism and help them start on a playing field that has always been stacked against them.
This fall at East Central University, Delanie plans to major in Political Science and Psychology, and Is'Abella plans to major in Social Work. The costs for their education break down as follows:
Update 7/29/20 Delanie Seals was awarded the following scholarships:
*Freshman scholarship $1,500 (Fall 2020 only)
*Trailblazer $250 (Fall/Spring semesters) = $500
*Kwianis $250 (Fall/Spring semesters) = $500
*Hargrave $375 (Fall 2020 only)
*Honors Scholarship $1,750 (Fall/Spring semesters) = $3,500
*Chickasaw Grant $3,250 (one time grant Fall 2020)
Total Scholarship awards:
FALL 2020 $7,375 + SPRING 2020 $2,250 = $9,625
For Delanie Seals:
Tuition $7,000 per semester x 8 semesters = $56,000
Books and supplies for Fall 2020 = $300
TOTAL needed: $46,675
Update 7/29/20 Is'Abella Miller was awarded the following assistance:
*Financial Aid $3,173 (Fall 2020) + $3,172.00 (Spring 2021) = $6,345
*Tuition Waiver $750 (Fall/Spring semesters) = $1,500
Total Financial Aid:
FALL 2020 $3,923 + SPRING 2020 $3,922 = $7,845
For Is'abella Miller:
Tuition $7,000 per semester x 8 semesters = $56,000
Books and supplies for Fall 2020 = $1,600
Financial Aid: $7,845
TOTAL needed: $49,755
GRAND TOTAL $96,430
Look at what they have been able to accomplish so far. Imagine the possibilities with no barriers. Let's send them to college this Fall stress and worry free, so that they can learn and grow into their full potential. Ada, Oklahoma is on the map and it is because of Delanie and Is'Abella. Let's give back to them. BLACK COLLEGE MATTERS. BLACK FUTURES MATTER.
Thank you from all of us at Save Your VI
Dmitra, Celeste, Johanna, Raquel
- Dan Powell
- Julia Barsoum
- Sydney Abbott
Organizer and beneficiary
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