Daunasia Yancey is black, lesbian and powerful. Credited with leading a protest intended to disrupt a tree lighting ceremony that took place the day after the disappointing Eric Garner decision, Yancey has been dubbed the new face of Boston’s civil rights movement by Boston Magazine.
They just might be right.
Yancey is young, but she’s held a number of influential positions. She has served on the Board of Directors for the Boston Alliance for Gay Lesbian and Transgender Youth (BAGLY) and the National Youth Advocacy Coalition (NYAC). According to her LinkedIn page, her work has been featured in the documentary, Secret Survivors and she has been honored with the Colin Higgins Foundation’s National Youth Courage Award and the Fenway Health Trailblazers Award.
It becomes clear a few minutes into a conversation with her on a bright Sunday afternoon via phone, that if Yancey believes in something, she’s going to face it or change it, head on.
“If I believe it, it must be true,” she said. It’s easy to believe her.
She can’t remember how she became a leader or when she realized that she was one, but she does recall that in the sixth grade, she alerted the school psychologist that a friend of hers was suicidal and that something must be done. Yancey knew even as a child, when NOT to stay still and be quiet.
Her first job as an organizer was earlier in grade school. In the third grade, Yancey watched one of the mothers consistently bring her children tea to drink at school in the mornings. Yancey thought “I want tea and so do my friends.”
Soon, after Yancey spoke up, she and her friends were also recipients of tea.
Though this fiery fighter for justice has grown up a lot since drinking tea in the art room at her school in Newton, she’s continued to labor for her rights and the rights of others. On Sunday, June 14, Yancey—an organizer at the Boston chapter of Black Lives Matter—will be part of the all-female keynote panel for the 9th Annual Blueprint Conference for Girls organized by the Boston Chapter of the National Alumnae Association of Spelman College. This year’s theme #BlackGirlsMatter, is close to her heart.
“We need to tell our girls that they matter, that they are important,” Yancey.
If she could change the world, she would start over. She would get rid of all the “isms” that she could such as capitalism and racism and usher in world peace. Like the ying and yang principle of opposing forces, Yancey believes that one group can only have all the world’s resources because another group is without them. “There are no Michael Jordans without child labor camps,” she shares. Injustice of any kind is intolerable to Yancey, and it’s evident that she’ll spend her years combating it. She’s off to a great start challenging the powers that be to reconsider what is and isn’t fair.
In the meantime, Yancey will be sure to inspire the girls at the Blueprint Conference with a message of love, affirmation and of course, power.