We profile local Black women who are advocating for Sacramento’s black community during these challenging times

From calls for better healthcare access and outcomes to personal pleas for police reform, Black women have long been at the forefront, driving change.

The past few months have shined a light on issues that Black women have been speaking out about for ages and as the nation battles dual pandemics — COVID-19 and systematic racism — 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.

Sistahs on the Frontlines

Sistahs on The Frontline: DR. FLOJAUNE COFER: A CHANGE AGENT

Flojaune Cofer was around eight years old when Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990. She’d seen the episode of the TV show “A Different World” that addressed Americans divesting from South Africa. She’d heard her parents talk about addressing racism at the places of employment. “What that taught me is that when you…

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As president of the Sacramento Chapter of Black Lives Matter, Tanya Faison shut down one of Sacramento’s main highways in the wake of the police-involved shooting death of young father Stephon Clark in 2018. She also masterminded the shutdown of Golden 1 Center that got the attention of the Sacramento Kings organization and the nation.…

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It doesn’t matter if it’s law enforcement, Confederate-flag toting White supremacists or an African American protecting their own privilege — Leia Schenk will go toe-to-toe with anyone who threatens Black people’s lives and livelihood.  Ms. Schenk is unapologetically entering spaces and changing the dynamic. She’s the founder of the nonprofit EMPACT and fights for the…

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Sistahs on the Frontline: ALANA MATHEWS: A LEGAL ACTIVATOR

Seeing video footage of a young Black man, Ahmaud Arbery, being run down and killed in Georgia last February was jarring for most. For Sacramento attorney Alana Mathews, it brought back haunting memories. Ms. Mathews recalls being chased by a truckload of racist White men while attending a college preparatory high school located on the…

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Sistahs on the Frontlines: Sonia Lewis – An Unflinching Justice Warrior

She’s no longer in the classroom, but former social studies teacher Sonia Lewis is still “schooling” folks. She shows up and lends her voice to causes like “state-sanctioned violence,” police abuse, mismanagement of taxpayer dollars, and racial equity at the systemic, institutional and structural level. “If we are actually talking about what humanity is about…

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Sistahs on the Frontlinkes: Allegra Taylor – A Village Leader

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…

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Sistahs on the Frontlines: Betty Williams – A Veteran Intercessor

Betty Williams didn’t intentionally join racial justice efforts upon moving to Sacramento 37 years ago, but was thrust into action. “I was raising three Black sons. Living in Sacramento, you’re going to have your challenges with racial profiling and everything else,” she said. Her oldest son, Jamel, went to the local Toys R Us and…

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Sistahs on The Frontlines: Bobbie Wooten – A Dignity Provider

After a car accident left her battered and briefly in a coma, Bobbie Wooten was in a tailspin. She had already faced hardships as a young mother and began to question her purpose. “I did some soul searching,” Ms. Wooten shared. “I began to ask, ‘Why am I here?” “I’m a regular person who just…

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Sistahs on The Frontlines: Danielle Lawrence – An Equity Champion

DEL PASO HEIGHTS – Danielle Lawrence came to the Mutual Assistance Network (MAN) in 2008 with a background in social work and mental health. She was named executive director in 2019. MAN offers stability and anti-violence programs and activities to keep youth and families engaged in Del Paso Heights, North Sacramento and Arden Arcade. It…

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Sistahs on The Frontline: Pastor Joy Johnson – A Community Healer

Social justice grounded in faith. As senior pastor of Higher Hope Christian Church and an activist in the wider community, Rev. Dr. Joy Johnson has dedicated her life to seeing prayer put into action. She is founder and president of Dr. Joy Johnson Ministries and Life Matters, Inc. and also directs trauma healing and restoration…

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Sistahs on The Frontlines: Asantewaa Boykin

The tattoos on both forearms spell out “Black Brilliance” and if the ink doesn’t tell you what she’s about from the start, her name certainly will.“It means ‘woman made of steel,’” Asantewaa Boykin explains of the moniker she was given by an elder. Ms. Boykin is the co-founder of the Anti-Police Terror Project (APTP), an…

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Sistahs on The Frontlines: Fatemah Martinez

A social worker by profession, Fatemah Martinez founded South Sacramento HART (Homeless Assistance Resource Team) seven years ago to help people identify tangible housing goals and connect them to needed resources. “Being a lifetime resident of South Sacramento, I’ve seen the face of homelessness change,” Ms. Martinez shared. “People living on sidewalks and in parking…

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