Children of Reproductive Rights and Civil Rights Activists Receive New Grants along with Young Environmental Activist

We just completed our spring granting cycle and I’m happy to welcome two new beneficiary families and another targeted activist youth to our community. These new grantees include:

  • Three young children whose mother, a Physician's Assistant and certified Doula, is a reproductive rights advocate for her patients, many of whom practice African religions and customs that put them at odds with the U.S. medical system. The mom has been harassed by hospital staff and ended up in court to protect the rights of her clients; in one instance the hospital called the police when she attempted to advocate for a patient who had just lost a child. While the hospital eventually backed down, she was forced to hire an attorney to defend herself and her patient and was barred from ever assisting with any future births at that hospital. Her young daughter has experienced significant difficulties at her public school, where “she was singled out for not standing for the pledge of allegiance, for defending her spiritual beliefs, and for wearing African clothing.” An RFC grant will pay for tuition for these children, ages five to eight, at a progressive school that offers a nurturing environment and a strong social justice curriculum.
  • A young woman who began organizing for social justice through her involvement with the Occupy movement in her community.  She eventually focused on environmental justice and helped to form several grassroots coalitions. She was arrested and convicted of trespass and resisting and obstructing a police officer (a felony charge) for locking herself to construction equipment being used to expand a tar sands pipeline as part of a peaceful protest. She spent time in jail, remains on probation, faces the possibility of significant fees for “restitution” and has a felony conviction on her record. An RFC development grant will provide her with a computer to aid in her educational and organizing efforts.
  • Two girls traumatized by the arrest and incarceration of their dad, the leader of an organization committed to black and brown unity, the preservation and enrichment of the Latino community, and struggles for human and civil rights in in his southern city.  He was harassed and under constant surveillance by the local police, and was arrested eighteen times on false charges, all of which were dismissed before trial. Several of these arrests occurred during family outings, which scared his children and made them concerned for their dad’s safety. Unfortunately, their fears were realized when he was convicted of RICO charges, and sentenced to 28 years in federal prison despite maintaining his innocence.  The ongoing harassment and eventual incarceration of their father has been devastating for his daughters, ages 11 and 15. An RFC grant will allow them to attend summer camp and counseling programs.

These beneficiaries bring the total new grantees this spring to seven: five families and two targeted activist youth. We welcome these new members of the RFC community and thank our supporters for making it possible for us to stand with them and their children.

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