17 year-old Oakland youth activist calls for allies, unity

An African American teen girl, Alysia Reaves, speaks into a microphone behind a podium in front of SF City Hall.
Alysia Reaves speaks at an SF rally to protest brutality against Black Americans. Reaves, an Oakland resident, says she envisions a world "that works for everybody." Photo by Aleshia Reaves.

Seventeen years-old. Elegant, softly-spoken but with determined passion in her message. Alysia Reaves recently spoke at a rally on the steps of S.F. City Hall during a Black Lives Matter protest, alongside others as well as actor Jamie Foxx. 

Representing the youth during her powerful speech, she spoke about the sadness of the recent events; she also spoke on injustices, and she spoke on the use of privilege. But what she also did during her talk, what she delivered in her speech, was show a glimmer of hope. Hope for us that justice will be provided by the Alysia’s of today, tomorrow, and from future generations.

Alysia is caring and extremely interested in her country, the future of our nation, and most importantly the people of color of our world. She grew up in Hayward and then moved to Denver. She later moved to North Oakland. She attended a charter school in North Oakland before attending high school in Berkeley, where she is entering her senior year. 

Across the country, and here in Oakland, youth leaders and activists have been using their voices.

Alysia presently stays with her family in North Oakland and hopes to pursue a career in medicine.

Alysia’s passion for social justice and human rights and dignity started early for her: “It started before I could walk—I’ve always been super passionate about helping people and the world. When I was little, before I could walk, I would crawl up to people at church and rest my hand on them; I would have this healing spirit flow through me into them. I have always taken leadership roles wherever I can. I do this because I would like to inspire those who look like me and have similar backgrounds as me. Thus, showing them that they can achieve greatness and be leaders as well.”

Asked if her family and parents in anyway influenced the way she thought, she said, “Well, coming from a family that is very intellectual and always discussing ideas and notions, I am always listening and engaging in those discussions and doing my own research. And since it appears that love is what we need to make a positive change in the world.” Alysia further stated “I am driven by the ancestral spirit that guides me. I envision a place that works for everybody. A place that allows everyone to flourish and a place that embraces everyone’s identity.”

Alysia was invited to speak at the S.F. protest rally. “With everything currently going on in society, my heart has been weighted pretty heavily. I felt the need to speak the truth that spirit was giving me.  I wanted to talk about the injustices that have been magnified during this time of pandemic, in relation to the horrific murder of George Floyd.  During this time of high political and social climate, right now is the prime time to take action and make positive change.”

She spoke on many topics during the short speech, including the role of allies:

“And so my white allies, my non-Black allies: use your privilege. If you want to talk about being an ally, it means more than just posting a hashtag on your Instagram. It means that you stand with us and you stand for justice day in and day out. You fight with us.”

And at the end, she talks about the human bond between everyone: “ We have to love each other. We have to care.”

Watch Alysia Reaves’ speech in front of S.F. City Hall:

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