Ayọ (formerly known as Opal) Tometi changes her name, choosing one deeply connected to her Nigerian ancestry
“It’s been really important for me to connect more deeply especially in light of last year’s uprisings, that not only took place here in the U.S., but in Nigeria and different parts of the Black world,” Tometi shared. “Finding the strength and wisdom within our cultures can be so healing... The significance of my name transition is not only rooted in the desire to honor my heritage, but after reflection throughout this pandemic I wanted to remind myself that the pursuit of justice is ultimately to attain joy for all of us. With all the social upheaval, hardship, and heaviness, I wanted to begin to embody the deepest desire of my heart which is not mere survival, but thriving.”
Ayọ, a derivative of her middle name, means joy in the Yoruba language, Ebony shared. “It’s an expression of inner wholeness, pleasure, and happiness,” explains Tometi, “and an outward pursuit of fulfillment and purpose.”
Ayọ Tometi and the Black Lives Matter movement nominated for a 2021 Nobel Peace Prize
AYỌ TOMETI was nominated for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize as a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement. The Black Lives Matter movement was nominated for calling attention to racial injustice across the world and creating systemic change. To be considered for such an incredible award is a huge honor, showing the immense influence Tometi is making on the world around us. Tometi brings this immense presence to events, as an activist who sparked a global movement, now being considered for one of the most prestigious honors in the world.
Virtual Programming: For more than 20 years, Ayọ Tometi has been a globally recognized human rights advocate, strategist, and writer, best known for her role as a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement
For more than 20 years, AYỌ TOMETI has been a globally recognized human rights advocate, strategist, and writer, best known for her role as a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement. Widely respected as a millennial trailblazer and immigration policy expert, Tometi has been lauded for her creativity and bold leadership. In addition to her work with #BlackLivesMatter, Ayọ serves as the Executive Director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), the first national immigrant rights organization that advances migrant rights and racial justice for people of African descent. Currently, she’s being featured in the National Museum for African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), and was a recipient of the Vh1 Everyday Trailblazer honor and Frederick Douglass 200 Awardee for her groundbreaking contributions to contemporary social movements and In 2019, Tometi, Garza, and Cullors (the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement) received a PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Literary Award for When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir.
With appearances on CNN, MSNBC, BET; featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, TIME, InStyle, Seventeen, Huffington Post, and nearly every other major publication; and named “A New Civil Rights Leader” by CNN and the Los Angeles Times, Tometi’s lifetime of work and commitment to social change has become a staple in the modern movement for justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. Tometi was honored as one of the Women of the Year Award by Glamour Magazine, recipient of the BETs Change Agent Award, and considered to be among the world’s fifty greatest leaders by Fortune, POLITICO, and Marie Claire Magazines. From college and universities to boardrooms and trade associations, groups committed to advancing justice and equity in the workplace and world love Tometi. She can bring the substantive work of a researcher combined with the professional and personal experience of a black woman in America committed to creating a world that works for everyone.
Ayọ (fka Opal) Tometi is one of the most influential human rights leaders of the century according to TIME magazine. As one of the three women co-founders of Black Lives Matter digital platform and chapter-based network, her name is etched in history. Hailed as a feminist freedom fighter, Ayọ is respected for her track record of uniting communities, and for her thought leadership on race, immigration, and gender. In 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. Ayọ is a trusted advisor and serves on the board of Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity and the International Living Futures Institute. She has graced the cover of magazines because of her achievements and received numerous recognitions including an honorary PhD, being named most influential women of the century by USA Today, TIME Magazine, and Most Influential People by Forbes, Marie Claire, Glamour and Cosmopolitan magazines. Ayọ was also honored by the City University of New York (CUNY) with a scholarship in her name to support immigrant students pursuing law degrees. In 2019 she also received the Coretta Scott King Center Award and Douglass 200 Award, and is currently 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, Ayọ has set her movement sights on an even bigger struggle: uplifting Black lives worldwide. In 2020 she founded Diaspora Rising, a new media and advocacy hub dedicated to strengthening the bonds amongst members of the global Black family. Additionally, she's focused on other social enterprises. With nearly two decades as a human rights champion, she still feels her work has only just begun.