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Four Community Leaders of Color Who Are Bringing About Positive Change

Present-day community organizers work tirelessly to expand on the efforts of civil rights leaders of the past, creating a force for positive change in communities of color and other underserved populations. Stacey Abrams, Beto Altamirano, Opal Tometi, and Rami Nashashibi are four of the nation's most active organizers. Their efforts are aimed at expanding voting rights, highlighting the needs of underserved communities, reforming immigration and criminal justice policies, and ending systemic discrimination. Here's a look at how their work has positively impacted communities of color throughout the United States.

Stacey Abrams

After narrowly and controversially losing her 2018 bid to become the governor of Georgia, Stacey Abrams quickly refocused her energy on grassroots organizing and mobilizing voters in the state. Her concerns about voter suppression in Georgia had begun years earlier when the Supreme Court curtailed many of the protections of 1965's Voting Rights Act. Leading up to the 2020 election, Abrams and dozens of other volunteers helped register more than 800,000 new voters in Georgia, many of them from underserved communities. She also raised millions of dollars to support Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in Georgia's 2021 Senate runoff elections.

Beto Altamirano

Beto Altamirano's work is proof that tech entrepreneurship can lead directly to positive community development. At a young age, Altamirano was inspired by his immigrant father to become involved in public service. He began by giving a voice to underserved communities in Texas and eventually continued his work in the Texas House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, and the U.S. Department of State. In 2017, Altamirano helped develop the Irys app, which helps everyday citizens initiate 311 service requests, communicate directly with city officials about non-emergency issues, and stay updated on government issues and services.

Opal Tometi

The 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin spurred nationwide peaceful protests and calls for action to combat police violence, implicit biases, and anti-Black racism. As a Black Lives Matter co-founder, Opal Tometi worked to create and organize the group's online platforms and initiated many of its social media strategies, including the widely shared hashtag, #BlackLivesMatter. Her efforts have helped the organization expand into having more than 50 chapters throughout the United States. Tometi currently leads the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, an organization pursuing immigration reform, improved immigrant rights, and racial justice in African American, Afro-Latino, African, and Caribbean immigrant communities nationwide.

Rami Nashashibi

Using his experiences as a Palestinian-American, background in sociology, and community organizing skills, Rami Nashashibi has worked to oppose housing discrimination and address social justice issues in Chicago's ethnically and religiously diverse Marquette Park neighborhood and beyond. Using houses of worship (including churches, mosques, and synagogues) as vehicles for community outreach, Nashashibi founded the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN), a nonprofit organization that offers healthcare services, job training for formerly incarcerated community members, and a program that makes healthy meals more affordable to members of the wider community. Nashashibi's use of inter-faith coordination and his work with IMAN earned him a MacArthur Fellowship grant in 2018. His work has inspired Muslim-American community outreach efforts in other American cities, including Atlanta and Los Angeles.

It's Your Turn

These four leaders have used grassroots efforts and their passion for community leadership to improve lives in underserved communities throughout the United States, and you can too. Earning a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from the Tulane School of Professional Advancement can help you build the skills needed to be an effective community organizer and address ongoing societal challenges. Request more information today to learn about the value of an MPA and our other flexible degree programs.

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