“Amid national discussions of police brutality and systemic racism, Black women have been the loudest and most consistent voices demanding change.
In the summer of 2011, three Black queer women started the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s death and the injustice that set his murderer, George Zimmerman, free. In a similar spirit, last summer three women from Ferguson founded Millennial Activists United (MAU), a social justice group that offers a new outlook on the young contemporary Black civil rights movement.
As Black women consistently face injustice, we’ve produced a steadfast capacity for resistance. Ferguson residents Alexis Templeton, Brittany Ferrell, and Ashley Yates founded MAU in August and took to the streets of Ferguson immediately, quitting their jobs and leaving their lives behind as they pursued justice. From Ruth Ellis to Lorraine Hansberry, Black, queer voices have been crucial to our historic understanding of Black resistance, yet are often hidden or underutilized. For the changemakers of MAU, their queer identities have been a major component of their activism: Ferrell and Templeton were married in December of 2014, just four months after they’d begun organizing.
As a collective, MAU has organized over a dozen intergenerational actions with between 30 to 100 participants. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, they occupied an upscale brunch restaurant in St. Louis—#BlackBrunchSTL was a modern take on a sit-in and was meant to make white brunch-goers feel a bit uncomfortable. Most recently, the group organized #BlackChurch, where the group stood outside several churches with signs like “Jesus questioned the status quo” and “Jesus was revolutionary.” In February, members of MAU delivered the State of the Movement Address at the Creating Change conference in Denver, Colorado, where they used the moment to invite all Black trans activists to join them onstage, honoring their lives in solidarity.
Ashley Yates left the group over the winter, but I recently spoke with Ferrell and Templeton about their thoughts on continuing the movement, how they express and receive love, and the climate of Ferguson today.”
Read the interview with Ferrell and Templeton here
Photos by Aaron Banks