ⓘ Eva Lewis

                                     

ⓘ Eva Lewis

Eva Maria Lewis is a student activist, advocate, poet, and artist. From South Side, Chicago, she is a contributor to Teen Vogue, founder of The I Project, Youth for Black Lives, and an organizer of the July 11, 2016 youth march on Millennium Park to protest police brutality.

                                     

1. Community activism

After the shooting of Trayvon Martin, Lewis protested for the first time, marching with her mother on Michigan Avenue Chicago. Lewis became further engaged while attending high school at Walter Payton College Prep, after attending primary school in the less-affluent, majority African American South Side. In 2015, when she was a junior in high school, Lewis founded the non-profit The I Project. The I Project supports intersectional activism through art, with fundraising and community outreach. Events have included a photo shoot for people of all sizes and shapes, with a discussion of culture and body image, and a screening of Beyonces Lemonade with inter-generational panel discussion.

In 2016, Lewis joined three other black teen women activists to organize a youth sit-in Chicago, to protest police shootings of people of color, particularly Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. The organizers rallied young community members on social media, with a Facebook event and the hashtag #BLMCHIYouth. The four organizers led a crowd of over 1.000 some sources say 2.000 people in a peaceful sit-in Millennium Park, and a march down Michigan Avenue and State Street Chicago. There were no arrests, a symbolic victory because of the reputation of violence in Chicago, especially among youth of color, and a strained relationship between anti-racism activists and Chicago police. Following the march, Lewis and the organizers started Youth for Black Lives Y4BL to activate youth voices against systemic oppression. With Y4BL, Lewis organized a second march beginning in Millennium Park on August 7, 2016, to protest police brutality following the death of Paul ONeal. In November 2016, in response to a deadly police shooting in Mount Greenwood, Chicago and racist text messages sent among students of Marist High School Chicago, Illinois, Y4BL organized another march. However, Lewis and the organizers received threats on social media, and CPS leadership contacted the organizers parents, and the march was cancelled due to safety concerns. Instead, Y4BL organized meetings with Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson. The first, held on November 11, 2016, included Johnson, the Chief of Patrol, the Alderman of Mt. Greenwood, and the principle of Marist High School. During the first and subsequent meetings, Lewis and the other Y4BL members questioned Johnson and discussed racism and policing in Mt. Greenwood and Chicago at large.

                                     

2. United Nations

Through her decade of involvement with the Girl Scouts of the USA, Lewis participated in the United Nations’ 60th Annual Commission on the Status of Women in New York in March 2016. Lewis spoke at the U.N. again in October 2016 for the United Nations International Day of the Girl Child, performing spoken word during the opening of the event; she also gave a speech during the proceedings.

                                     

3. Teen Vogue

Lewis contributed to Teen Vogue in 2016 and 2017, focusing on black women, intersectional feminism, and perceptions and approaches to handling violence in Chicago. She addresses social justice, especially for people of color.

                                     

4. Awards

  • Princeton Prize in Race Relations, April 2017
  • Rising Star award, DuSable Museum of African American History, June 2017
  • Pioneer Award, Chicago Foundation for Women, March 2017
                                     

5. Publications and speeches

  • Eva Lewis Speech, U.N. International Day of the Girl Child, 2016
  • Chicago: A Land of Wilderness and Oasis | Eva Lewis | TEDxTeen
  • Eva Lewis articles on Teen Vogue website
  • Eva Lewis Opening Performance, U.N. International Day of the Girl Child, 2016
  • ABC 7 Chicago interview with Lewis on The I Project
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