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Rising Stars: Meet Shannon Morton

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shannon Morton.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
Well Krys, my life after college was busy and tough. I did a lot of odd jobs while living my life as a struggling artist. I was pursuing a career as a writer, so I did everything from nannying, tutoring, managing a bar and lastly before starting Black Women Lead, I was working in production and writing with my writing partner at the time while doing festival circuits.

When Covid hit, I started to rethink what really mattered to me and then the murder of Breonna Taylor really hurt me. She looked like she could be me or one of my cousins, my mother, my aunts. I was mad at the fact that this young Black queen was doing her part to help her community, working as a frontline worker and that she could be shot down in her home and that there was no justice. This prompted me to think, What Would Breonna Do? I think it is pretty clear that she would be a leader in her community for change. I decided right then and there that I couldn’t sit back and not do anything. Even though we were in the midst of a pandemic, I couldn’t sit at home and be silent or just fight with folks on the internet. I had to hit the streets and speak for people who could no longer speak for themselves.

I started Black Women Lead in June 2020, an LA-based nonprofit to amplify the voices of Black and brown folks but also to serve my community based on the diverse needs of Black women.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
The fight for justice is never smooth. The world is more divided than ever but the Black Women Lead community is strong and resilient. Our current struggle at BWL is getting people to stay involved, to stay enraged with passion for the movement. The world is starting to go back to normal and brunch seems to be more fun option than protesting and fundraising. But I urge people to stay active and involved because this work we are doing, it’s just the beginning.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
At Black Women Lead, we are always expanding based on our community needs. We currently run five programs: Black Women Lead Meal Program. We serve 1300 meals a week, every Tuesday and Thursday.

We have the Black Women Lead Hygiene Kit Program, we go out once a month to encampments to pass out backpacks filled with supplies. The backpacks include: socks, underwear, masks, hand sanitizer, toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo/conditioner, wipes, body wash, deodorant, tampons, pads, first aid kits, lunch and a water.

While handing out hygiene kits, I noticed a lot of our unhoused sisters and brothers have dogs so we started the Black Women Lead Pet Pantry. So along with the hygiene kits, we take dog food, dog treats, a groomer, dog blankets and beds.

And currently, we are working on being a leader in reproductive health. We are working alongside some amazing women to start a program that will help women in Texas get access to abortion funds. I can’t spill all of the details right now because my lawyer wouldn’t like that… There is so much legal processes going into this particular project but it’ll be worth it.

I think what sets BWL apart from other orgs is that we aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel. We go into our community and we ask the simple question, “How can we help?” We are all about finding out the needs of the community and coming up with solutions.

I’m really proud of BWL because this work is hard and many days, I feel like giving up but I have to remind myself that this isn’t about me. It’s about community… And I will not let the community down.

We love surprises, fun facts and unexpected stories. Is there something you can share that might surprise us?
Some people may not know that Black Women Lead is the Bernie Sanders of nonprofits! No joke, we fundraisers through Instagram usually. We have a Go Fund Me, a Venmo, and an Amazon Wishlist. We’ve never received a grant. We’ve solely relied on our community for the support we need. I won’t lie, we are working on the grant writing for 2022 because we are expanding and need more funds all the time. Fundraising is the most stressful aspect of this business for me.

Pricing:

  • Buy a BWL T-Shirt 35$ = 7 meals
  • Buy a BWL Starter Kit: 40$ = 8 meals

Contact Info:

  • Email: BlackWomenLead2020@gmail.com
  • Website: www.BlackWomenLead.Black
  • Instagram: @Black_WomenLead
  • Facebook: Black Women Lead
  • Twitter: @BlackWomenLEad2


Image Credits:

Photos by Amari Dixon @amaridixonphotography Photos by @FranklinEast

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