Community Defenders

Each year since 2004 the Defenders have held its annual Fighting Fund and Community Awards Dinner. The awards are presented to individuals and organizations not typically recognized for their work in defense of self-determination in their communities.
2008-2010 Recipients

For their efforts in the struggle to reclaim Richmond’s African Burial Ground:

  • Afrikana – Student organization of the VCU Department of African American Studies, Award accepted by Charity Pierce, president.
  • Janine Bell – Founding Director, Elegba Folklore Society
  • Dr. Michael Blakey – Director, Institute for Historical Biology, College of William & Mary
  • Sa’ad El-Amin – former Richmond City Council member and former chair of the city’s Slave Trail Commission
  • Sister Maat Free – Spiritual Advocate for the Burial Ground
  • King Salim Khalfani – Executive Director, Virginia State Conference NAACP
  • Shanna Merola & Kenneth YatesRichmond activists who exposed the plans by Virginia Commonwealth University to repave the Burial Ground
  • Dr. Shawn Utsey – Director of the documentary film “Meet in in the Bottom: The struggle to reclaim Richmond’s African Burial Ground”

Breanne Armbrust – Coordinator of Richmond Jobs with Justice and labor activist for her work to establish the Virginia Peoples Assembly, a statewide coalition of grassroots organizations and individuals working together to establish a Peoples Agenda and support each other’s work and counter the efforts of the Virginia General Assembly to ignore the most pressing problems facing our communities.

Roy Bryant, Jr. – Longtime Richmond community activist and former vice president of the Richmond branch of the NAACP for his life-time of work, especially during the campaign to close two elementary schools builit upon landfills because of the deleterious effects of methane and other toxins on the children attending those schools.

The People United – grassroots activist coalition in Charlottesville, Virginia, who led a struggle to educate Virginians about abuses in regional jails holding immigrants and to stop plans to build an immigrant detention in Farmville Virginia. Award accepted by Jeff Winder, founding director.