February is Black History Month and uSpark wanted to hear directly from local Black leaders. Often the conversations around Black History Month are centered around the national level. We wanted to shift the focus locally, to understand the significance of Black History Month here in the Central Valley. We reached out to four local Black leaders and below are their thoughts and reflections about Black History Month. We recommend watching the video first and then diving into the audio.  

Spoken word piece by local community organizer Jeremy Miller. Jeremy did this spoken word piece to summarize his thoughts and reflections. We thought it would make a perfect introductory video to introduce all of the individuals we interviewed.

D’Aungillique Jackson is a Fresno community organizer and Fresno State NAACP 17Ai Unit President. D’Aungillique was one of the youngest members of the Fresno Police Reform Commission and was chair of the community input committee. She organized one of the largest protests in Fresno in 2020 in response to the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers.

Ashley Neely is a community organizer based out of Hanford and one of the leaders of the organization called Black Lives Matter Hanford. In 2020 she organized a Black Lives Matter march and rally in Hanford which saw several hundred people attend. She is a constant advocate for racial and health justice in the Central Valley.

Denise Rogers-Heydt is a community organizer from Fresno and helped organized the We Can’t Breathe protest and rally in 2020. She is also a research assistant at the Central California Center for Health and Human Services. She recently did a report titled Contemporary Discrimination on Frenso State’s Campus. She interviewed several Fresno State students to “…explore the impact that contemporary discrimination experienced by students of color on campus and in the classroom.”