Taylor Center announces three recipients of George Floyd Fellowship
The St. Olaf College Taylor Center for Equity and Inclusion has named AD Banse ’23, Jordan Embry ’23, and Ruhama Solomon ’24 as the 2022-23 recipients of the George Floyd Fellowship for Social Change.
The fellowship is designed to support the advancement and development of the Black/African-American community in the United States whose populations experience the social, political, and economic barriers and factors that contextualize the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police on May 25, 2020.
The fellowship provides funding for a yearlong project proposed by applicants. It gives recipients the tools and support they need to improve the experience of marginalized communities by focusing on and advancing the work of racial justice, social justice, and equity.
Banse, a political science major, will use the fellowship for a project titled “Employing Youth Development Strategies.” Using a research-based approach, his work will highlight the voices and needs of marginalized youth with the goal of developing effective programs for underrepresented youth that bridge mentorship and support.
Familiar with the Center for Leadership and Neighborhood Engagement (CLNE) from a first-year internship, Banse will be partnering with the organization to create a framework and blueprint that can be applied across numerous communities to make a dynamic, lasting impact.
Raised for much of his youth by a single parent, Banse says “I have experienced firsthand the irregularity of a support system. My childhood, although turbulent, instilled a resilience and a passion towards helping and contributing to society.” He does this by researching, developing, and improving outside-of-the-home support systems for youth.
In conjunction with the Taylor Center, Banse also facilitates sessions on campus for the Piper Center for Vocation and Career’s Ole Career Launcher program that focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace, teaching Oles to understand their identities and those of others — and the importance of both.
Solomon will use the fellowship to develop “Let Us Reap What We Sow,” a mixed-media art exhibition featuring local and nationally recognized BIPOC artists that will explore the climate crisis and environmental racism through a non-white lens.
A political science and environmental studies major, Solomon hopes to educate the community and shed light on this socioeconomic issue while amplifying Black voices in the predominantly white performing and visual arts space. She hopes to partner with poetry foundations, performing arts groups, and environmental justice organizations.
“Environmental equity is a basic human right,” says Solomon. “It’s crucial that I bring attention to it tenfold.” Passionate about racial disparities and the impact of climate change, Solomon is already a driven activist and is looking forward to this opportunity not only to educate others but to strengthen and polish her skills.
In the past Solomon curated an event called the “Black Effect” that served to highlight talented Black students on campus and brought people together. She is also an active member in the POC Ole Theater, which exists at St. Olaf to amplify actors and artists of color. She is also the co-president of the St. Olaf Chapel Choir, where she blends her leadership role with advocacy for social justice.
Embry will use his fellowship to support a project titled “To The Top,” which will take financially disadvantaged students of color on trips around the United States to broaden their mindsets, expose them to new experiences, and show them the potential for financial success that exists.
“I want them to understand that there are no limits to the chances available in this world,” says Embry, an economics major and member of the St. Olaf football team.
In June of 2020 St. Olaf committed $100,000 to establish the George Floyd Fellowship for Social Change, and donors provided a matching endowment. Combined with support from the Johnson Family Opportunity Fund, the Taylor Center named four fellows in its inaugural year, and one in 2021-222. Read about their projects here:
The George Floyd Fellowship is coordinated by the Taylor Center for Equity and Inclusion, which aims to foster an inclusive environment across the intersections of race and identity that students bring to St. Olaf.