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To honor and celebrate Black History Month, some of our Elevate Prize winners and fellows are joining together for Instagram Lives to discuss how we can drive progress towards equality and parity. Hosted by author, speaker, mentor, and life coach Octavia Yearwood, each conversation will focus on the ways we can take action – today.


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Our first discussion tackles the importance of mentorship and representation in Black communities. We’re bringing together two activists with deeply artistic roots — graphic artist and educator (and TikTok star) Tony Weaver, and musician and mentor Re@l — in what promises to be a creative and energizing conversation.

Our second discussion looks at the impact of mass incarceration on Black communities. We’ll be talking with Amanda Alexander, founder of Detroit Justice Center, Zo Orchingwa, whose grassroots organization Ameelio is helping solve the communications crisis inside prisons, and Brenda Palms Barber, whose organization Sweet Beginning is helping formerly incarcerated people gain skills and find employment, one beehive at a time.  


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Learn more about our speakers.

(Live 1)

After seeing the impact that media stereotypes had on students in his community, Tony Weaver, Jr. founded Weird Enough Productions to challenge the status quo. In 2018, he made history as the first comic writer to ever be selected for Forbes’ “30 Under 30.” If you’ve not seen his acclaimed TikTok videos yet, what are you waiting for?

Jeremiah “Re@l” Fristoe is an acclaimed musician, songwriter and producer — and a mentor and teacher with the organization Guitars Over Guns, which works to prevent violence in Miami. Check out some of his music here

(Live 2)

Uzoma “Zo” Orchingwa created Ameelio to help reduce the prison population and decrease recidivism — starting with one, solvable problem: helping incarcerated individuals stay in touch with their friends and family on the outside through free-to-use communications tools. 

Amanda Alexander, founding Executive Director of Detroit Justice Center, is a racial justice lawyer and historian who works alongside community-based movements to end mass incarceration and build thriving and inclusive cities.

Brenda Palms Barber founded Sweet Beginnings to help solve the problem of unemployment among Black men and women with criminal backgrounds by offering jobs and training opportunities through an urban honey business.