Giving Them Their Flowers While They Are Still Here: 5 Revolutionaries Worth Celebrating

flowers in the field


Feb. 3 2021, Published 2:20 a.m. ET

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Every day Black men and women put their lives on the line to bring awareness to social change, equality, and justice but oftentimes, those individuals don’t get the recognition they deserve until long after they are gone.

February is Black History Month and what better time is there to celebrate those who have made a positive change in this country. It’s important to commemorate notable figures like Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott and shed a light on those in the past, but also those that carry the torch to create a promising future.

It’s imperative that we celebrate those fighting for change while they are here and ‘give them their flowers while they are still here to smell them’ because we are the driving force behind their activism.

Besides quite literally building this country, African-Americans are responsible for some of the most intriguing inventions used today including the founding of higher learning institutions known as HBCU’s, and orchestrating laws that protect the African-American community.

Revolutionaries and activists are valued and appreciated in the African-American community because they are a voice to the voiceless.

Here are 5 revolutionaries and activists striving for change that deserve their flowers, today, while they can still smell them.

Dr.Bernice A King
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Dr. Bernice A. King

The daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr and Coretta Scott King, Bernice has made it her life’s mission to continue the work of her parents fighting for equality and justice for African Americans everyday. King, the CEO of the Martin Luther King Jr Center for Nonviolent Social Change (The King Center) which was founded by her mother in 1968- just a few months after her father was assassinated.

Bernice has spoken at the funeral for Rep. John Lewis, initiated Beloved Community Talks to begin having courageous conversations about the difficult racial issues impacting our communities, nation and world, founded Camp N.O.W. Leadership in 2012 through her work at The King Center, educating youth and adults about the nonviolent principles modeled by her parents. Camp N.O.W. has engaged youth from New Mexico, South Carolina, Michigan, Alabama, and as far away as the Island of Cyprus. King is also very vocal on her social media about the social change efforts she continues to strive for.

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Angela Rye

Maybe you follow her on Instagram or maybe you’ve seen her as the outspoken, tell it like it is, “I’m black and I’m proud,” political commentator on CNN. However you were introduced to her, you can’t deny that Angela Rye is using her platform to bring awareness to injustice in politics that affect African Americans around the world. Rye is the CEO of Impact Strategies, a political advocacy firm based in Washington D.C.

She currently serves on the boards of the Congressional Black Caucus Institute and the Congressional Black Caucus Political Action Committee (CBCPAC). One visit to Rye’s social media, and anyone can see that she means business! {IG link). Rye learned the importance of advocacy through her family’s political and community activism.

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Sybrina Fulton

Burying a child is a pain that no parent should have to endure and Sybrina Fulton knows this pain all too well. Fulton, the mother of murdered teenager Trayvon Martin, has made it a mission to keep her son’s name and legacy alive. Fulton has become an aspiring spokesperson for parents and concerned citizens across the country. Fulton has served her community for over 25 years working for the Miami-Dade County Housing Development Agency but it wasn’t until the death of her son in 2012 that she decided to take her community activism in another direction.

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Despite the intense struggle of losing a child, Fulton has become a role model to many by turning her grief into advocacy. She travels the country speaking at schools, conferences, and has been a guest speaker on numerous television networks such as CNN, ABC, CBS, and MSNBC. Recently, Fulton ran for political office for a seat in Miami- Dade County Board of County Commissioners for District 1.

“At first, I didn’t want to be the voice for Trayvon after he died but I decided I have no choice. Now, I’m called to act, and called to serve,” Fulton, an activist against gun violence, said in a roughly two-minute video posted on her Instagram Account  “It became clear to me there’s an opportunity to turn our family’s tragedy into something positive for many other families.”

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Alicia Garza

You can’t talk about social change without mentioning Alicia Garza, the co-founder of Black Lives Matter; a social movement protesting incidents of police brutality and all racially motivated violence against African-Americans. Garza is credited with inspiring the slogan when she posted on Facebook “stop saying we are not surprised. that’s a damn shame in itself. I continue to be surprised at how little Black lives matter. And I will continue that. stop giving up on black life. Black people. I love you. I love us. Our lives matter,” after the 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman in the murder of Trayvon Martin.

Garza led the 2015 Freedom Ride to Ferguson, which launched the building of BlackLivesMatter chapters across the United States and the world. However, Garza does not think of the Black Lives Matter Movement as her creation; she feels her work is only a continuation of the resistance led by Black people in America.

In 2015, Garza founded The Movement For Black Lives as a response to concerns that Black Lives Matter was responsible for the Ferguson riots.

In 2020, Garza was named to Fortune magazine’s ‘40 Under 40‘ list under the “Government and Politics” category.

Garza is included in Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020 and on the list of the  BBC’s 100 Women announced in November 2020.

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Tamika Mallory

Tamika Mallory

Known for organizing one of the biggest marches’s in 2017 -The Women’s March held in Washington D.C. every year, Tamika Mallory is also the co-founder of Until Freedom, an intersectional social justice organization and was also named one of ESSENCE’s Woke 100 in 2017.

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In 2020, Mallory’s speech at a Minneapolis press conference went viral, following the tragic murder of George Floyd at the hands of the police. “Arrest the cops. Charge the cops. Not just here in Minneapolis. Charge them in every city across America where our people are being murdered. That’s the bottom line,” said Mallory. They say you aren’t an activist until you’ve been arrested, right? In 2018 Mallory was arrested outside of Paul Ryan’s office for participating in non-violent positive protest in support of Dreamers in the DREAM Act.

Mallory was also arrested in 2020 in yet another non-violent protest demanding the arrest of the officers in the murder of Breonna Taylor when she and other well-known celebrity’s showed up at AG Daniel Cameron’s house in Louisville. On May 11, Mallory makes her literary debut with her book “State Of Emergency: How We Win In The Country We Built.” State Of Emergency is the first title from Charlemagne The God’s Publishing and consists of forewords from Angela Davis and Cardi B. Mallory uses her social media platforms to spread her message of activism worldwide.

Countless African-American revolutionaries went to their graves without the recognition they deserve, but today we must work to recognize them, loudly, so that they are able to see their work applauded while they are still with us.

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By: Michelle Richardson

Michelle Richardson is an Emmy award-winning Journalist based out of the DMV. Born and raised in Baltimore, MD Richardson has worked for CBS, ABC, Hearst Television, and is the Freelance Arts, Culture, and Entertainment Reporter for THE AFRO-AMERICAN NEWSPAPER in her hometown. Richardson obtained her B.S. from The University of Baltimore in Corporate Communication and is currently in the process of obtaining her Masters in Broadcast Journalism from Georgetown University.

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