A Girl Scout for ten years in an all African American troop, Eva has been exposed to Black girl empowerment since before she could fully understand its true meaning. In addition to Girl Scouting, Eva was always involved in the arts through dance, literature, and music. Entering high school, after the death and injustice of Trayvon Martin, she became interested in acting against social inequality. During her freshman year of high school, at Walter Payton College Prep, she became involved in Young Chicago Authors ‘Louder Than A Bomb’, the world’s largest poetry competition and festival. Spoken word poetry brought her interests in art and social justice full circle. After studying abroad in France the summer before her junior year, using interviews and footage shot in France, she created a short film on privilege called “Redefining Opportunity”. Soon after, she created The I Project, which combines art and activism to advocate for intersectionality. Eva now writes for Teen Vogue about social justice and equality for all peoples, specifically people of color. In Fall of 2017, she will be attending the University of Pennsylvania on a full ride with the Questbridge College Match Scholarship.
Growing up in a single-parent household Mr Rios lived in several Oakland neighborhoods in his youth, including West Oakland, the Fruitvale District and Elmhurst. He grew up in some of the poorest neighborhoods in Oakland. Growing up around drug dealers and gangs, he was forced to join a local Latino East Oakland gang when he was 12 years old for protection from rival gangs.
Being part of the gang brought Victor Rios into a life of crime, stealing cars, sometimes living in them, selling drugs, getting into fights with rivals, going in and out of Juvenile Hall. When Victor was 15 years old one of his best friends was named “Smiley.” Smiley was shot and killed in the Fruitvale district by a rival gang and he literally died in Victor Rios’ arms. It was around this time that a teacher who Victor Rios called Mrs Russ began helping and mentoring him. An Oakland Police Officer also gave him a break from catching a major case with severe charges.
Victor Rios began Changing his life from gang member to college student. He enrolled at Uc Berkeley and would eventually earn a PhD in Sociology. He began mentoring Oakland youth and working with them to get out of a life of crime and into college.
Victor Rios wrote 2 books. One was about his life growing up in Oakland in a gang, called Street Life: Poverty, Gangs, and a Ph.D. The second book he wrote was a study on Oakland black and Latino youth and how the local justice system and school system systematically sets up kids for a life of punishment and jail time instead of helping youth get out of that life style. The book is called Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys.
Today Victor Rios is a Professor at UC Santa Barbara. He still works with at risk youth in the Santa Barbara area.
Brittney Cooper is a writer, teacher, and public speaker. She thinks Black feminism can change the world for the better. Her most recent book is Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower. She is Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and Africana Studies at Rutgers University. She is co-founder of the popular Crunk Feminist Collective blog. And she is a contributing writer for Cosmopolitan.com and a former contributor to Salon.com. Her cultural commentary has been featured on MSNBC’s All In With Chris Hayes, Melissa Harris-Perry, Al Jazeera’s Third Rail, the New York Times, the Washington Post, NPR, PBS, Ebony.com, Essence.com, TheRoot.com, and TED.com.