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Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day: How Project DIVA International is advocating for the rights of people of colour

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Martin Luther King Jr. Day is celebrated every year on January 17 to honor and celebrate the achievements of the great leader who led the nonviolent resistance against racial segregation and advocated for the rights of people of color.

According to the statistics, the maximum number of racial hate crime victims in America were African-Americans. Even though we have come far in trying to reduce the racial injustices, we have a long road ahead.

We interviewed Neda Renee Kellog, Executive Director, Project DIVA International to learn how their nonprofit is working to ensure equal rights to people of color and create a more just world.

Why is it important to talk about the rights of people of color in 2021?

Neda: We are a developmental organization for Black girls in middle and high school. As human beings, there are infinite rights that we are given at the time of birth. These rights are not just individual rights but also collective rights which we share. There is divisiveness among cultures even though we all have the same rights. There is a light within each of us that align with our individual visions and this light shouldn’t be dimmed. Rather, each individual should be allowed to thrive and achieve their goals.

How is DIVA International impacting the lives of its beneficiaries?

Neda: Rather than fighting the school system in America, we provide academies that align with the personal and professional development of girls, which the school system is not interested in providing. Our Academies include  our Business 369 Academy which  teaches them how to manage their finances, our Investment Academy  gives them the knowledge of right investment paths, our Career Exploration Academy helps them explore different career paths and Travel Academy takes black girls in America global for them to understand global liberty better.

What are the challenges that people of color face?

Neda: The major challenge is appropriate versus inappropriate behavior. We uplift each other by appreciating each other in our career advancements. However, the real challenge is holding each other accountable for the changes that are required, at this time in history, to bring a positive impact to society. Only when we hold each other accountable, can we create an environment that is conducive for our younger generations to thrive.

What were the challenges that you nonprofit faced during the pandemic? How did you overcome them?

Neda: The biggest challenge was switching to virtual space. We lacked prior experience in this and were not too sure as to how it would go. But much to our surprise, the virtual space benefited us. Our girls were open  to attending sessions  online and shared the same connection with us as we had in person. In that,  the problem that remains is that of fundraising. Similar to most  nonprofits, we seek to  ensure that our service providers are compensated for their expert services that they’re offering within the organization and that our girls are receiving high quality services. When the pandemic hit, a lot of promises were made as to how the funding for Black led nonprofits would be changed to reach more equitable platforms. A lot of donations poured in during the uprisings and pandemic but with time, it has died down. So, getting donations remains one of the biggest situations to work through  since we transitioned to the virtual world.

Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with Project DIVA International

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