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Our Stories: Matter is the minimum
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"Our Stories" were written and produced by Garcelle Franklin. Garcelle is a graduate student at the University of Denver and a fellow for Rocky Mountain PBS.

This series explores the celebrations and marginalization of underserved communities that often go unnoticed. "Our Stories" aim to bring knowledge and awareness to overlooked areas by allowing community members to shape their own narratives by sharing their stories. We hope that these videos shed light on what is happening in local areas and show people how they can create change in their own communities.

DENVER — In 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement erupted across America. 

When Minneapolis police officers took George Floyd's life and Breonna Taylor’s life was stolen in her sleep, many Americans began to acknowledge the racial injustice dividing our country. As more names became hashtags, Black lives started to become the center of conversations throughout 2020. 

RTD Director and local leader Shontel Lewis spoke with Rocky Mountain PBS about how problems in the Black community escalated throughout 2020 and beyond.

Colorado Voices

Our Stories: Shontel Lewis

Shontel Lewis is the first Queer Black woman to be director of RTD’s District B

In 2020, Kamala Harris made history by becoming the first female, first Black and first Asian-American to become the Vice President of the United States. Serving alongside President Joe Biden, Harris' success showed why America needs to uplift political campaigns that center Black women.

Lewis is Denver’s first Black woman to be director of RTD’s District B. In this role, Lewis is responsible for helping Denverites get around downtown and the city's surrounding areas.

While Lewis has become known for her work in transit throughout the city, her outreach only begins there. She is a community leader in Denver and spends her free time organizing throughout her community. Every year, Lewis—along with Tiya Trent, Tish Beauford, and Kenyetta Jackson—holds the annual March for Black Women. The march aims to center issues like colorism, medical discrimination, housing insecurity, food desserts, violence against trans women, gun violence, human trafficking, and other issues that mainstream feminism does not always portray. The event includes therapists and healers to center mental health and promote self-care within the Black community.

The march has become a sacred event for Black women in Colorado who often feel invisible and isolated at their jobs, schools, and in their everyday life. 

In our interview, Lewis highlighted the importance of creating safe spaces for Black women at our jobs and within our life. She also speaks on the importance of uplifting Black women that we know and not just the women that we idolize. Making sure that we uplift the Black women in our offices and support them when they are in higher positions is essential to creating a more united country.  “When Black women are not at the important tables that we are invited to,” we should begin questioning it.

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