On January 6, while most folks were glued to their televisions, watching incredulously as American insurgents stormed the U.S. Capitol, Allegra Taylor jumped in a Lyft and headed downtown.
She was moved into action by the need to protect younger activists of color who had gathered at the State Capitol to counter locals who were supporting the bold action in Washington D.C.
“I’m in the middle of all the White supremacists, trying to locate the people, when all of a sudden I hear this guy saying, ‘F* Black Lives Matter, F* Black Lives Matter.” I look to see where the voice is coming from. He was standing on one of the statues or pillars or something. He’s looking dead at me and I said, ‘You talking to me? F*** you… then I remember thinking to myself, ‘is this how the kids get dragged in?’”
The “kids” represent a new face of activism. A younger generation that took the lead in many ways during the protests that sprung out last year after the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
“They ain’t waiting for the torch to be passed. They … picked up the torch and they’re trying to run with it,” Ms. Taylor said.
Bridging the gap between the elders and younger activists has become important work for her.
“These young kids today they do have some answers and some of the things they do are right,” Ms. Taylor said. “They might be a little rough around the edges, they might come across as a bit tough, but if you are out there and you see the provoking, the harassment and some of the stuff that they’ve had to endure, they’re just boldly saying, ‘We ain’t our ancestors. We ain’t our elders. We ain’t just going to stand around and let you talk to us any old kind of way. You better back down, because we will fight.”
She’ll continue to fight on their behalf and stand with them, she says.
“Somebody has to be the voice of reason in those situations. Somebody has to have an eye out for this younger generation that is fearless. Fearless, bold and ready to fight. We’ve got to stay on the front lines with them. I’m only 57 years old. I got a little bit more fight in me. I’m not quite an elder, I’m a junior elder, but I’m elder enough to some of these kids to where they see me as an elder so I need to operate in that space,” Ms. Taylor said.
Activism for Ms. Taylor dates back to her early 20s in San Francisco, when she joined other residents living in the Potrero Hill Projects in a rent strike to improve conditions.
Through volunteering with Stand Down Sacramento, Ms. Taylor became an advocate for veterans. She joined the All of Us Or None organization and began fighting for the rights of the formerly incarcerated after her father was murdered at Folsom State Prison in 2015.
She is also a part of Sacramento Area Congregations Together (ACT) and its Live Free and reinvestment coalitions. She co-founded a group of her own after being challenged by ACT leader Ryan McClinton to find creative ways to reach the community.
“We are community action advocates,” Ms. Taylor said of The Village.
“We advocate from the classroom to the Capitol, court, wherever it leads. We assist families and youth, we work on policy change at the district levels and at the city level,” she continued.
The Village may not be as known as some other groups, but Ms. Taylor keeps her eyes on the prize.
“There are cliques in Sacramento, California,” she says. “I believe that there are certain organizations that are plugged with money and certain organizations that are kind of left to do whatever it takes to make it work. I’m one of those smaller organizations, but we just do the work. You just do the work.”
Ms. Taylor has been engaged in change work within the Elk Grove Unified School District, centered on how Black students, particularly Black male students, are often penalized and criminalized. She’s also stood with young people as they navigate out of the criminal justice system.
She had “kind of gotten out of advocacy” and was focused on the youth aspect. Then, in 2016, she, and the rest of the world saw a 32-year-old Black man, Philando Castile get shot and killed on Facebook Live by a police officer during a traffic stop in Minnesota.
“That’s what got me off my couch,” she said. “It just broke me. I hate injustice and I really hate injustice when it comes to our people, because we’re always having to endure in every aspect of life and I just felt like sometimes, you need to say something.”
By Genoa Barrow | OBSERVER Senior Staff Writer
The Sacramento OBSERVER introduces a special series, “Sistahs on the Frontlines,” acknowledging and highlighting the work that Black women are doing as “essential workers” on the frontlines, furthering the causes of the community. READ MORE