The Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity (AFRE) program has announced its first cohort of fellows.
Launched in 2016 with a ten-year, $60 million Atlantic Philanthropies grant to Columbia University, the year-long non-residential program is designed to strengthen the networks, skills, and capacity of activists, authors, artists, and others who are working to challenge racism in the United States and South Africa and disrupt the reemergence of white nationalism and supremacy. To that end, fellows will receive a financial award and participate in learning tours in the U.S. and South Africa, engage in immersive courses with senior leaders in the field, and benefit from mentorships.
This year's twenty-nine fellows include Alicia Garza, director of strategy and partnerships for the National Domestic Workers' Alliance and co-founder of Black Lives Matter; Color of Change executive director Rashad Robinson, who is developing strategies to empower African Americans to effect real change; CultureStrike executive director Favianna Rodriguez, who hopes to build a national network of artists of color and migrant artists focused on connections between African-American and Latino/a people; and Michael Smith, executive director of the MBK Alliance and director of youth opportunity programs at the Obama Foundation.
Fellows based in South Africa include University of Cape Town lecturer Asanda Benya, who is documenting the work of black mineworkers, with a focus on women; Coloured Mentality director and co-creator Kelly-Eve Koopman, who is working to transform educational systems and the media in her country, with a focus on addressing entrenched racism; and Neo Muyanga, composer-in-residence at the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival and the National Arts Festival of South Africa, who is working to combat racism through theatrical and musical productions that showcase Africa's complex history.
"The United States and South Africa share a long history of racism, inequality, and white supremacy, all of which have reached a boiling point in recent years," said AFRE executive director Kavitha Mediratta. "But we also are witnessing a new generation of leaders standing up to break this corrosive cycle of injustice. These extraordinary individuals demonstrate great courage, and by awarding these fellowships we hope to help them achieve our collective goal of a truly just and inclusive society for all."
For a complete list of the 2018 Atlantic Fellows, see the AFRE website.