The Legacy of Berta Càceres

By Korrien Hopkins

Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores was a Honduran activist of the Lenca people. 

She was born March 4, 1973 and grew up witnessing the violence that swept through Central America in the 1980’s. Her mother, Austra Bertha Flores Lopez, was a great role model for humanitarianism. She was a midwife and social activist who took in and cared for refugees from El Salvador, teaching her young children the value of standing up for disenfranchised people. Austra Flores served as two-term mayor of their hometown of La Esperanza, as a congressional representative, and as a governor of the Department of Intibucá

With the great influence of her mother, Cáceres grew up to become a student activist and in 1993, at the age of 19, she cofounded the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) to address the growing threats posed to Lenca communities by illegal logging. This organization fought for their territorial rights and to improve their livelihoods.

In 2006, community members from Rio Blanco came to COPINH asking for help. They had witnessed an influx of machinery and construction equipment coming into their town. They had no idea what the construction was for or who was behind the project and asked Cáceres to investigate. What they did know was that there was a threat against the Gualcarque river which was a place of spiritual importance to the Lenca people and viewed as sacred land.

Cáceres responded to this threat by filing complaints with government authorities, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and by appealing to businesses that were funding the dam to withdraw support. Those efforts proved unsuccessful, however, and in 2013 Cáceres organized a human blockade of the road to access the construction site. The blockade stayed in place for more than a year, and protests continued to take place thereafter. Criminal charges were filed against Cáceres, and she and other activists were routinely threatened with kidnap and murder. After one protest leader was killed in 2013, Sinohydro, the Chinese partner of the Honduran company building the Agua Zarca Dam, withdrew from the project, and the International Finance Corporation later withdrew its support. Cáceres was later murdered in her home due to a fatal gunshot wound.

Despite her tragic death, Cáceres continues to be a great inspiration to many. She was a prominent figure in a very strong movement. Looking at current events like the protest at Standing Rock, we can see the attacks against indigenous tribal lands continue to rise. The fight that indigenous people continually face is a reminder that Cáceres was one person who has moved thousands, a single life turned into countless calls for justice.

Berta no murió. Se multiplicó. Berta didn’t die. She multiplied.


Ava DuVernay: Director, Producer, and Screenwriter

By: Korrien Hopkins

There’s something very important about films about black women and girls being made by black women. It’s a reflection as opposed to an interpretation.

Ava DuVernay is an American film director, producer, screenwriter, film marketer, and film distributor. DuVernay was born on August 24, 1972 in Long Beach, California. She was raised by her mother, Darlene, an educator, and her stepfather, Murray Maye. She grew up in Lynwood, California near Compton and graduated in 1990 from Saint Joseph High School in Lakewood. She attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and double majored in English Literature and African-American studies. During her summer vacations, she would travel to the childhood home of her stepfather, which was not far from Selma, Alabama. DuVernay said that these summers influenced the making of Selma and her successful career in film.

Prior to her filmmaking career, DuVernay worked as a publicist and marketer for 14 years. The award-winning firm she worked with provided strategy and execution for more than 120 film and television campaigns for acclaimed directors. These included directors such as Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood, Michael Mann, and Bill Condon. DuVernay is also the founder of ARRAY, a grassroots distribution and advocacy collective dedicated to strengthening films by people of color and women. DuVernay sits on the boards of both Sundance Institute and Film Independent and in 2017, DuVernay was named one of Fortune Magazine’s 50 Greatest World Leaders and TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.

At the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, DuVernay won the U.S. Directing Award Dramatic for her second feature film Middle of Nowhere, and was the first African-American woman to win the award. For her work in Selma in 2014, DuVernay was the first black female director to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award. With Selma, she was also the first black female director to have her film nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. In 2017, she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for her film 13th in 2016. DuVernay’s latest film premiered March 9, 2018. The groundbreaking fantasy film A Wrinkle in Time, had a budget exceeding 100 million dollars, making her the first black woman to direct a live-action film with a budget of that size. DuVernay was the first of many, setting the bar high and opening the door for future women of color filmmakers like myself. She continues to inspire many and displays what it is to be a phenomenal woman of history by using her power to share stories of those like us.

Marsha P. Johnson: The Pioneer

By Korrien Hopkins

Marsha P. Johnson was a leader during the standoff that culminated in the infamous Stonewall Riots, a rallying cry against police surveillance and harassment of people in New York’s LGBTQ community during the 1960s. Johnson was a black transgender activist who did many things to enact change in her community. She mentored and helped provide housing for homeless LGBTQ youth, served as an activist for AIDS with the organization Act Up, and founded organizations to serve trans communities. She was a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front, and she co-founded the gay and transvestite advocacy organization, STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries), alongside her close friend, Sylvia Rivera.

Sadly, the activist tragically died in 1992 at the age of 46. Her body was found in the Hudson River. The circumstances surrounding her death are still being examined. It was first ruled a suicide, but the case has since been reopened. Despite the loss of a pioneer in the LGBTQ community she lives on through her legacy. Today, we still fight against hate and discrimination of the LGBTQ community. We continue to push for peace and equality and we wouldn’t be nearly as far as we are without strong women like Johnson.

5 Reasons Why You Should Try Reusable Menstrual Pads

By Korrien Hopkins

We at the Women’s Center recently received a very kind donation of reusable menstrual pads. Although I’ve never used them, I was curious to research their benefits.

So here’s what I found:

1. They are environmentally friendly.

The average American woman will use 12,000 to 16,000 disposable pads, tampons, and panty-liners in her lifetime. With the manufacturing, packaging, and transportation this creates a substantial amount of waste of just getting these products from the factory to stores. This creates a lot of waste in our landfills! Sad but true: the most common trash items found on North American beaches are plastic tampon applicators so this is clearly a big issue we’re having.

In today’s current environmental situation using something once is not enough! When you choose to reuse anything from dishes to towels, you’re helping make a cultural shift that values quality over wastefulness.

2. They are healthier than single-use pads.

I read that they can reduce menstrual cramps, definitely a plus for me. They also can reduce infections and skin rashes because they are more breathable than single-use pads that have plastic lining.

The plastics, synthetic fibers, wool pulp, chlorine, synthetic chemicals, artificial fragrances and pesticides, and herbicide ridden cotton used in disposable menstrual products can lead to allergic reactions, hormone disruption, reproductive disorders, and even cancer.

3. You’ll save money.

Cloth pads can last years and assuming most women menstruate for about 40 years, and spends about $8 every other month on single-use pads, it eventually adds up to $1,920 over her lifetime. If she’s using a pack a month, that’s $3,840. Just imagine what you could do with that money!

4. You’ll support small businesses.

From my personal opinion the farther you get from these popular brands the healthier you’ll be.

And why not support small businesses?

5. They are sanitary and wont leak!

This was one of my biggest questions while researching and from what I read, they are very sanitary, easy to clean, and many have a waterproof lining inside to prevent leaking.


If this motivates you to try reusable menstrual pads swing by the Womens Center and we will hook you up! (We do have a limited supply of donations so your promptness is important.)

See you soon!

The Feminists in Training of the Women’s March

By Korrien Hopkins

This past week, hundreds of thousands of people joined women’s marches across the country and the world. Men and women marched for any number of issues, from racial equality to sexism. Teens and smaller children also took to the streets carrying signs of resistance against the inequalities within our society. Although I didn’t have a chance to go to the march this year, I got to see the flood of empowering photos that hit the media. Every year, I take the time to look at the powerful and creative signs being held and see those that are holding them. My favorite to see are the young feminists and “feminists in training.” They are all photographed holding impactful signs and it is just freaking adorable. I’m sure myself and many others can agree that the kids are cute, but can we all agree that they are necessary and needed at the marches as well? Many may wonder if the Women’s March is an appropriate place for those that young. I think it’s fine, but it’s also important to give them a little background knowledge before attending.

In all reality it’s their future that we’re working for. I think participating in the Women’s March is teaching them action. It’s easy to express your disappoint with something. It’s easy to want change. But what is a goal without action? Taking them to marches and rallies shows them their power. Even at such young ages they are learning that they have power and responsibility, and most importantly, that they are not alone. The principle foundations of what the Women’s March stands for, as stated on their website, is “to harness the political power of diverse women and their communities to create transformative social change… [and] dismantling systems of oppression through nonviolent resistance.” Grounded in the non-violent ideology of the Civil Rights movement, the Women’s March is a prime opportunity to show your children how to participate in civil, safe protest while teaching them how to stand up for what they believe in.


Long Live the Legacy of Coretta Scott King

“What most did not understand then was that I was not only married to the man that I love, but I was also married to the movement that I loved.”

By Korrien Hopkins

Martin Luther King Jr. may be the United States’ most well-known civil rights activist of all time, but there’s no denying that his wife Coretta Scott King was a hero in her own right.

Coretta, born and raised in Marion, Alabama, graduated from high school as valedictorian in 1945. She studied singing at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston when she met Dr. King. After the two married in 1953, they moved to Montgomery, Alabama and had four children.

Coretta, a classically trained musician, gave up her dream of becoming a singer and became “The First Lady of the Civil Rights Movement.” She devoted much of her time to raising their children during King’s career as a pastor and activist, though she would often speak about civil rights at churches, colleges, and other organizations.

Two months after her husband was assassinated in 1968, Coretta founded The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change. She took on leadership within the movement for racial equality and fought to make her husband’s birthday a federal holiday for nearly two decades. She oversaw the first nationally observed Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 20, 1986.

Coretta continued to make history throughout her life by working fearlessly to create the change her husband had worked so hard for. She became the first woman to deliver the annual class day address at Harvard University and the first woman to preach at a worship service at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. During her remarkable life, she received over 60 honorary doctorates and helped found dozens of organizations dedicated to advancing human rights. She was a leader in the women’s movement and a fierce defender of LGBTQ rights.

Coretta Scott King died from ovarian cancer on January 30, 2006. She became the first woman and first African American to lie in honor in the Georgia state capitol’s rotunda. The “First Lady of the Civil Rights Movement” powerful legacy continues to live on today. Although there is no Coretta Scott King Day, it’s important that we acknowledge these sacrifices made by her and many women like Coretta. She, like many women, made sacrifices for the sake of the advancement of all, even when the cost was her own well-being. These sacrifices should be held to a high standard because without her legacy, the legacy of her husband would be far different. She showed the world that a person can only be as strong as their partner. She showed the power of women in the movement and is still a role model for many women today. I will always uplift her legacy and strive to be as powerful as she was.

“The woman power of this nation can be the power which makes us whole and heals the rotten community, now so shattered by war and poverty and racism. I have great faith in the power of women who will dedicate themselves whole-heartedly to the task of remaking our society.”  – Coretta Scott King




Oprah Winfrey Shares a Message of Hope and Unity in Her Inspiring and Historical 2018 Golden Globes Lifetime Achievement Award Acceptance Speech

By Korrien Hopkins

This past Golden Globes weekend, Oprah Winfrey received a lifetime achievement award and gave a very moving speech. The actress, producer, and philanthropist presented a message of hope, unity, and optimism in her speech.

She opened with a story reflecting on her childhood when she was a little girl in 1964, watching the Oscars from the linoleum floor of her mother’s house in Milwaukee. She explained how hearing five words that changed history: “The winner is Sidney Poitier,” inspired her to be the person she is today.

“I had never seen a black man being celebrated like that,” she said. “I’ve tried many, many times to explain what a moment like that means to a little girl, a kid watching from the cheap seats as my mom came through the door, bone-tired from cleaning other people’s houses,” she said.

In addition to being the first black man to win Best Actor at the Oscars, he also was awarded the Cecil B. DeMille Award in 1982. The same award that Oprah was receiving. She also spoke of Recy Taylor, a young black woman who in 1944 had the courage to speak out against her white male rapists. Taylor was of great inspiration to Rosa Parks and many others.

After hearing Oprah Winfrey’s speech, I realized how important it is that we live in our truth as she said. When we follow our heart, despite opposition and fear, we are in turn paving a way for others and inspiring others. We are shaping the future for us all because, when it comes down to it, we are one.  Winfrey’s inclusiveness of men and women in the fight against sexual harassment on all levels was strong and very inspiring. Her speech proclaimed the strength and sisterhood of the women in Hollywood who suffered and spoke out against harassment along with women all around the nation.

“But it’s not just a story affecting the entertainment industry. It’s one that transcends any culture, geography, race, religion, politics, or workplace. So I want tonight to express gratitude to all the women who have endured years of abuse and assault because they, like my mother, had children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue… Recy’s truth is here with every woman who chooses to say, ‘Me too,’ and every man who chooses to listen,” she said including male allies.

Perhaps her speech was never meant to be anything more than that, but it became a moment where many like myself, saw her presidential potential. People took to social media to express their #Oprah2020 dreams. I’m definitely not opposed to this at all. I think it takes someone who understands life and human connection in a special way to be President. This is what Oprah has shown us throughout her career. She is authentic and relatable, despite her lack of political experience which clearly is needed in today’s world. I think her life experience and amazing wisdom outshines many by far. This is what I believe could evoke a positive change and unity for all of humanity. I think that’s why her Globes speech transcended to the American people far beyond the fancy occasion. She met people in their living room sharing her truth to encourage us to share ours. We also can’t forget her extremely generous nature. Could you imagine her giving out free college tuition and student loan forgiveness in the same way she once gave free things to her audiences on the Oprah Winfrey Show?


“You get free college…. and You get free college….”

“You get loan forgiveness…. and You get loan forgiveness.”

I mean, a girl can only hope and dream. Right?

Oprah’s speech opened my eyes to a brighter future. Whether she runs for president, or just continues to contribute her thoughts of inclusion or shares her story, I’m happy. She continues to inspire me to overcome the many obstacles I face because of my gender and the color of my skin. She shows me that although it’s not easy, it’s possible. And the more we create change for ourselves, we are creating change for others because we are one. So that one day, hopefully sooner than later, young women like myself won’t have these same problems.

“For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men — but their time is up. Their time is up!” –Oprah Winfrey

Missed the speech? Watch it here:

She’s Gotta Have It remake is a feminist breakthrough

By Korrien Hopkins

Cinematic genius Spike Lee has recreated his 1986 film She’s Gotta Have It, adapting it to the era of T.V. and Netflix originals. The new Netflix dramedy’s 10- episode first season became available to us all this Thanksgiving holiday.

I spent the following days indulging in leftovers and in this feminist refreshment. In the end, I was definitely not disappointed.

In my opinion, this show is praise-worthy. It shines light on many issues women face in this patriarchal world by showing sexual liberation and a relatable woman’s experience.

The main character, Nola Darling, is a 28-year-old sex positive, polyamorous, pansexual artist living in Brooklyn, New York. Nola is caught in a love pentagon and finds herself stuck between three male partners Jamie, Greer, Mars, and a female partner, Opal, to whom she struggles to commit.

Just like myself and so many women I know, Nola faces street harassment and assault, money troubles, the challenge of self-love in a time when body modification is increasingly popular, subtle racism, and the gentrification of her neighborhood: Many problems that are uniquely affected by the fact that she is a black woman.

After recently viewing the 1986 original She’s Gotta Have It, I would say that Nola Darling 2.0 is way more satisfying to watch. In the original film, Nola is raped by one of her partners, Jamie. This rape was very downplayed in the movie. Although the relationship doesn’t end up working out, it wasn’t because of the incident that took place just a few scenes earlier, but because Nola says that Jamie was too controlling– dismissing the fact that she was raped.

This did cause a lot of criticism during that time and was something Spike Lee said he regretted doing in the film.  Lee took his second chance, the rape was removed from the new version of She’s Gotta Have It, although in the first episode Nola is assaulted by a cat-caller as she walks home one night. She uses her artistic nature as a form of activism and starts a guerrilla street campaign. She has conversations with friends and she experiences PTSD. Her character’s response is finally congruent with the trauma she’s experienced. This change shows the progression we have made combating women’s issues in today’s society, giving much more of a modern turn to the original.

It shows women experiencing, fighting back, seeking help and healing. Nola is what I like to call more of a millennial feminist, no different from me and the many other women who face the same issues as her.

She is like Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, the artist who inspired her character. Fazlalizadeh created the global 2012 campaign Stop Telling Women to Smile, which also focused on street harassment. Nola’s activism also reminded me of Tarana Burke, the creator of a non profit organization that helps women who are victims of sexual harassment and assault and the brain behind the #MeToo campaign.

In fact, Lola Darling’s anti-street harassment photo campaign has made its way to social media, allowing others to join in on #MyNameIsnt____

The evolution of Nola’s character was definitely an enjoyable watch, from her message to the great choice of music that was played throughout the season. The change also represented the type of changes we continue to go through as a culture battling racism, sexism, and lack of respect for the experiences of women. It showed progression. It showed what happens when a woman knows what she wants and works for it because “She’s Gotta Have It!”

Thankful feminist

By Korrien Hopkins

While the end of the year approaches and I go into this Thanksgiving holiday, I think it’s time we take a step back from the old traditions, instead reflecting on the new ones.

Every year gives the opportunity for progression and lessons. I’m am not only thankful for my own personal victories and lessons. I’m am most proud of what we accomplish and learn together, in our schools, communities, and far beyond.

As a millennial feminist, I am aware of the struggles the women before me faced. I am privileged and thankful to not have all of their issues compiled with my own. While reading the Bustle article “12 Ways Feminism Looks Different in 2017,” it made me reflect on all the good that has been happening.

Good things come when we stand together and show support for one another. The intersectional feminism of 2017 has been very visual in pop culture and even in fashion, to name just a few fields.

I am thankful for every feminist and feminist movement both now and before my time. I’m and thankful for the stamina we carry as feminists, because this fight has been long and is not over.

I am thankful for the past, but, more importantly, the future we are creating. Although I know all of our issues have not yet been resolved, I am a #ThankfulFeminist

Now you take the time to reflect. What are you thankful for? Use #ThankfulFeminist on a social network of your choice. Let’s start a conversation!

Putting an end to body policing in the media

By Korrien Hopkins

Demetria Obilor, a local traffic anchor with ABC affiliate WFAA in Dallas, made headlines for her inspiring response after a woman body-shamed her on social media. Since then people all over social media have been showing their support, while many others are shaming her for simply being herself.

“I’m waking up from my Friday nap to some controversy, but a whole lot of love,” Obilor said in a video she posted to Twitter. “The controversy is coming from people who aren’t too happy with the way that I look on television saying, ‘Oh, her body is too big for that dress. It’s too curvy.’ Or, ‘Her hair, it’s unprofessional, it’s crazy. We don’t like it.’”

Women are continuously being policed to live up to societal expectations.

More specifically, women of color and black women, in particular, have been consistently scrutinized and body-policed. This includes being shamed for attributes that are seen as desirable on women of other ethnicities. What is “hot” on the Kim Kardashians and Iggy Azaleas of this world is often seen as “ghetto” or “inappropriate” on women of color.

Obilor told ABC News in a statement that “helping to cultivate confidence and self-esteem” in women and girls “is something that I put my entire heart into.”

“For so long, women have been marginalized and prescribed a narrow-minded concept of beauty. We have to shatter all of that and unite to shape a better, more tolerant world for the future,” she added. “We need to embrace every body type, every color, every hairstyle … at the root of it, we are all human and no one should ever be discriminated against based solely on the way that they look.”

Obilor is using her platform to show that her hair and body is just as professional as those with more European features that society is more comfortable with. The media should continue to show the uniqueness of all people. Every news anchor doesn’t have to look the same and shouldn’t be shamed for how they are. It is up to us to stand up and accept diversity. To see Obilor so unapologetically curvy and curly is very inspiring to me and many women around the world.

To see people around the country are supporting her is even for inspiring. It shows us that we have a platform, as well. With this platform, we can accept and uplift each other, putting an end to the haters.