With a shared commitment to advance democracy through research and alliances with civil rights organizations and progressive social movements, the Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and the UCLA Asian American Studies Center have partnered to pilot a UCLA Activist-in-Residence Program.

Funmilola Fagbamila and Lisa Hasegawa, the inaugural 2017 Activist Fellows, will be in residence on the UCLA campus during winter quarter, from Jan. 4 to March 31.

“Our organizations recognize that the work of social change is demanding,” both organizations said in a statement. “It is our objective to help sustain the activists involved in this work. The collaboration will help strengthen the infrastructure of social transformation by providing activists with the time and space to recharge and to reflect upon a complex challenge facing their communities, while also allowing UCLA undergraduate students to develop or strengthen their own commitment to social justice.”

Funmilola Fagbamila

Fagbamila, an activist and community organizer with more than eight years of experience in Los Angeles County, is the 2017 Irvine Fellow on Urban Life. Hasegawa, who is a UCLA Luskin Senior Fellow, has worked at the intersections of civil and human rights, housing, health and community organizing for her entire career.

Fagbamila has been an organizer with Black Lives Matter since its inception, working on policing, mass incarceration and the overall physical health and wellness in poor black and brown communities. Currently,  she is the arts and culture director for Black Lives Matter Los Angeles.
When she was a graduate student in UCLA’s African American Studies Department, Fagbamila also worked with a number of campus and community groups, primarily organizing around student rights, promoting faculty and student solidarity, and hosting educational events on the increased privatization of public education in California.

The Irvine Fellow on Urban Life residence program is funded by the James Irvine Foundation and was established to bring scholar-activists to the Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin who will undertake social movement research and pedagogy directly concerned with equity at the urban scale.

Ananya Roy, director of the institute, considers the Activist-in-Residence Program “an important anchor for the work of the institute.”

“It brings to the campus leading public intellectuals and foregrounds the significance of learning directly from social movements and community organizations,” Roy said. “We are especially thrilled that our inaugural activist-in-residence is Funmilola Fagbamila whose work with Black Lives Matter L.A. connects performance art, scholarship and activism to create new public spheres and new modes of dissent. We know that, in particular, our students will benefit tremendously from her presence and will be inspired to recast their own engagements in dialogue with her.”

During her residency, Fagbamila plans not only to produce a curriculum and host campus workshops regarding inter-ideological communication and intracommunal differences, but also complete her stage play, “The Intersection,” based on engagement across ideological communities. More information about her work can be found on YouTube.

Lisa Hasegawa

Last month, Hasegawa stepped down as the executive director of the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Development, a job she did for the past 15 years. Prior to that, she was the community liaison of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans Pacific Islanders in the Clinton administration.

Hasegawa said she is committed to leveraging her cross-disciplinary networks across the country for UCLA students, faculty and larger community. Returning to UCLA is a homecoming for her. As an undergraduate at UCLA, she started her career in community activism through an Asian American Studies Center internship at the Asian Pacific Health Care Venture.

The AASC Activist Fellow is made possible through the Yuji Ichioka and Emma Gee Endowment in Social Justice and Immigration Studies. The endowment was established in honor of the late UCLA scholar Yuji Ichioka and his wife, activist-scholar Emma Gee, and supports engaging leading activist scholars who are pursing research that provides new analysis of the significant historic and contemporary role of race, ethnicity, class and gender in American life.

“Lisa has an extraordinary knack for bridging the worlds of policymaking, community practice and academic research,” said Asian American Studies Center Interim Director Marjorie Kagawa Singer. “The center is truly excited to work with Lisa in addressing social inequality in Asian American and Pacific Islander communities through a variety of events, such as presentations, class visits, workshops, panels, activist projects, and much more.”

“We are on the brink of a very challenging period for Asian Americans Pacific Islanders, undocumented immigrants, communities of color, low-income and queer communities,” Hasegawa said. “This fellowship will give me the opportunity to reflect on my 20 years in D.C., as well as a chance to think critically, with fresh perspective, about what we need to do in the next 20 years to create systemic equity. I look forward to facilitating lively dialogue and concerted action amongst networks of activists, advocates and practitioners, together with students and faculty.”

As part of her fellowship, Hasegawa will document achievements and challenges faced during the Obama administration. Additionally, she plans to engage students, faculty and community activists in dialogue about how strategies may have fallen short and take stock of policies that can be strengthened, preserved or defended.

For more information on the Activist-in-Residence program, contact UCLA Asian American Studies Center at melanyd@ucla.edu or the Institute on Inequality and Democracy at guihama@luskin.ucla.edu.