By Ubuntu Village and Equal Voice Action
Ubuntu Village, Equal Voice Action’s partner in The Village Project, honors Black leaders in the New Orleans community who are advancing the values of Ubuntu – “I am because we are.” Read about a new honoree each week of February as we celebrate Black Futures and the work of communities to envision and determine their own futures.
Historically, we at Ubuntu Village have celebrated our ancestors and Black leaders on multiple levels and issues. While acknowledging the importance of this history, we are honoring Black Futures this month by extending the torch to Black leaders who are working on behalf of our community. As we visualize the world we want to live in, it will take the courage, tenacity, and empathy of these promising leaders to accomplish it. We honor these young people for their diligence, work ethic, and collaboration with Ubuntu in building The Village Project and the foundation for Black people.
“I am America. I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me.”— Muhammad Ali
America Lenox is an Ubuntu Village + EVA community leader focused on civic engagement, community outreach, and advocating for resources on behalf of youth and families. Lenox recently began serving as the Program Manager with Youth Rebuilding New Orleans. She also serves as a Parent Navigator with Ubuntu Village and as a Community Engagement Specialist with Heroes of New Orleans. She is a graduate of Southern University of New Orleans, where she majored in Criminal Justice and Addictive Behavior, Counseling, and Prevention.
Most importantly, Lenox is a devoted mother who enjoys advocating for youth and families who are not given opportunities and need support adjusting to the obligations of work, school, and family life. Her first-hand experiences drive her dedication and commitment to bridging gaps and ensuring youth and families have sustainable resources to meet their needs.
“A little less complaint and whining, and a little more dogged work and manly striving, would do us more credit than a thousand civil rights bills.”— W. E. Dubois
D. Caleb Smith is a native of Clinton, Mississippi. Smith obtained his bachelor’s degree in social science secondary education from Delta State University (2014) and a master’s degree in history from Jackson State University (2016). From 2015-2017, he taught U.S. History (1877-Present) in the Clinton Public School System. Currently, Smith is a graduate student at Tulane University, where he is advised by Prof. Jana Lipman and focuses his research on Modern America. Within this field, his research interests are labor, race, and activism since Reconstruction.
Since coming to Tulane in 2017, Smith has been an Andrew Mellon Fellow in Community Engagement through Tulane’s Center for Public Service. He is currently completing his community-engagement project which is tentatively titled “Black Voices in White Spaces: Reflections of African American Non-Profit Organizations in a Privileged Campus Culture.”
Throughout his time at Tulane University, Smith has partnered with non-profit organizations such as the Ashe Cultural Arts Center, Ubuntu Village, Operation Restoration, and the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice to co-facilitate dialogues on race, inclusion, and diversity. Currently, he is a Howard-Tilton Memorial Library Fellow and teaches Modern African American Freedom in the Department of History.
This post is brought to you by The Village Project, a partnership between Equal Voice Action and Ubuntu Village. Equal Voice Action partners with Ubuntu Village through The Village Project to help parents and families support their young family members involved in the court system, access resources and opportunities, and advance family-led systems reform. Read more about the Ubuntu Village + EVA partnership here.