EDUCATE. ORGANIZE. AGITATE.
#BreakingOurChains vision is to democratize the economy, government, and society through liberatory pedagogical policies and practices that ensure: equitable education, fair and just representation in school materials, fundamental education rights; anti-bias education, and meaningful, accurate representation within the classroom. #BreakingOurChains has been achieved when the educational system and cultural environment results in connected communities, fair economy, racial justice and human rights for all people, and lifts up the voices of communities of color, low-income families, low-wage workers, LGBT communities, women, and all those whose voices are raised, but remain unheard.
OUR SOCIAL JUSTICE APPROACH
#BreakingOurChains is a grassroots coalition and youth-voice driven social justice organization that is directly aimed at disrupting and dismantling the pre-school-to-prison pipeline by infusing and empowering communities of color with a culturally responsive liberation pedagogy and the tools and resources to apply it.
THE #BREAKINGOURCHAINS TEAM
EDUCATE. ORGANIZE. AGITATE.
Ruth Beltran is a community organizer and activist living in Sarasota, Florida. Ruth is an immigrant from the Dominican Republic who began organizing in Syracuse, NY where she resided for over 10 years. In Syracuse, Ruth was involved in a successful, 5-year long campaign to obtain independent oversight of both the City of Syracuse Police Department and the County Sheriff’s Office, which oversees the county jail. The campaign was started as a reaction to the deaths of two inmates inside the county jail, one of which was due to an ectopic pregnancy after a nurse denied a female inmate medical care because she thought she was faking her pain. The campaign sought to restructure the City Police department’s dysfunctional Citizens Review Board, and to create an independent agency that would oversee the county jail and sheriff’s office. After many years of endless strategic work, community organizing and protesting – the Citizens Review Board was successfully restructured. The county reinstated what once was the Human Rights Division, which now oversees all complaints regarding the Sheriff’s office and the county jail, and hired one of the campaign’s lead organizers to oversee the division.
Ruth has served on the Board of the NYCLU – Central New York Chapter, the League for United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and many other local organizations. She has received several awards including the 2012 40 Under 40 Rising Star Award for the Central New York area. Ruth has an established career as an Investigator for the US Department of Labor. She spends most of her free time organizing around the many social issues that affect our communities today including worker’s rights, immigration reform, Black Lives Matter, LGBTQIA rights, environmental Justice, Jail oversight, and police accountability. She is an organizer with ANSWER Suncoast Coalition and with Black Lives Matter Tampa.
Rachael Lehman is a mother, activist and yogi. Currently, Rachael us an Assistant Professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies at the Community College of Denver, co-chair of Colorado’s Women’s Studies discipline, CCD’s Diversity and Inclusion Council member and coordinates service learning projects for students. Rachael applies her sociology and intersectional feminism every chance she gets. Her applied sociology has led to activism around education, housing and the environment. She recently served as Policy Director for a local school board race.
Maaja Ashemu is a producer for the Facebook Live online program Truth to Power, working with H-Soul Ashemu and the rest of the team to generate each episode. Maaja is attending university full-time as a straight A+ student, a member of three honors societies while holding two part-time jobs. Maaja has made it a priority to be an active member within her community, tackling social justice issues, including Black Lives Matter, Women’s Rights, LGBTQIA+, homelessness, gentrification, etc. Understanding that youth are the most powerful, yet most underrepresented and underestimated constituent in society led Maaja to her ultimate goal, which is to receive her PhD in Sociology. This will equip her with the tools necessary to create her own classes centered around these issues while while empowering the next generation.
Beth Gipson, a professed author in hiding…is known for an impeccable understanding and effective crisis intervention success, both within the California Title | Public School System and Community Care Facilities for 19+ years. She has built a consistent platform that reaches the most vulnerable at-risk youth, providing educational, pro-active life skills, and a therapeutic approach to community engagement. Her favorite activities include spending time with her family, water coloring, and home design. Her leadership and unrelenting voice for social change continues to actively challenge status-quo solutions.