Honorees

Opal Tometi

Opal Tometi

Biography

Opal Tometi is one of the most influential human rights leaders of our time. As one of the three women co-founders of the Black Lives Matter movement, digital platform, and chapter-based network, her name is etched in American history. Hailed as a feminist freedom fighter, Opal is respected for her track record of uniting communities, and is known for her thought leadership on race, immigration, and gender.

In early 2019 she completed nearly a decade of service as the Executive Director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), the first immigrant rights organization for people of African descent in the United States. Opal is also a trusted advisor to many formations, including Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity and the Andrew Goodman Foundation. She has received numerous recognitions including an honorary PhD, and was named among the 50 Most Influential People by Forbes, Marie Claire and Cosmopolitan magazines. Opal was also honored by the City University of New York (CUNY) with a scholarship in her name to support immigrant students pursuing law degrees.

Her most recent recognition includes winning the 2019 Coretta Scott King Center Award and Douglass 200 Award, and being featured in a video installation at the Smithsonian’s National Museum for African History and Culture for her contributions in thought-leadership for the betterment of the diaspora. As the daughter of Nigerian immigrants, Opal has set her movement sights on an even bigger struggle: uplifting the global Black community. In 2020 she founded Diaspora Rising, a digital digest focused on pertinent issues of blackness around the world. When she’s not traveling the world or strategizing for social justice you can catch her dancing, riding a bike or adding to her Black art collection. And while she’s accomplished a lot to date, the truth is, Opal has only just begun.