Ayo Tometi; Fronting the Core of Humanity

By Duchess Magazine

Formerly known as Opal Tometi, Tometi Ayo is a writer, strategist, and human rights activist of Nigerian and American heritage.

Ayo’s journey toward justice, love, and passion begins in her early years. Ayo, a daughter of Nigerian immigrants, grew up in Arizona and saw firsthand the struggles that her close-knit community of Black immigrants encountered. She was present for the tragic human rights crisis at the US-Mexico border, which inspired her to become a vocal community organizer.

She has been involved in social movements for almost 20 years and is well-known for being a co-founder of Black Lives Matter and serving as the Executive Director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, the nation’s first organization dedicated to advancing the rights of immigrants of African descent (BAJI).

After the 2010 Haitian earthquake, Ayo tried to bring families back together and steadfastly opposed unfair deportations. She later spoke at the United Nations, legislative briefings, the Atlantic Ideas Summit, Harvard and Yale Universities, and TED talks on behalf of immigration 

Ayo frequently goes international to support human rights activities and serves on the boards of several organizations and initiatives. Her accomplishments, such as being named one of TIME 100’s Most Influential Women of The Century, are equally as outstanding as her career. For her accomplishments, she is currently highlighted at the National Museum of African History and Culture (NMAAHC) of the Smithsonian. Ayo received both an Honorary PhD and the Sydney Peace Prize with her other BLM Co-Founders. 

She has adorned the covers of numerous magazines throughout the years and has been listed on Forbes, Marie Claire, and Cosmopolitan magazines’ “Most Influential People” lists. The 2020 Freedom of the Flame Award from civil rights legends was her most recent honor.

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