As we begin 2007, ColorLines starts the year profiling a list of trendsetters and tastemakers we call The Innovators. Leaders in politics, art, music and even style, our lineup is filled with the people behind the big ideas you’ll see move in 2007. From celebrity activism and training young leaders to an activist judge and a court-martialed soldier, The Innovators are the ones to watch.
We don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
"My newfound commitment and vision is to put the eclectic, contemporary, elusive Native American image on screen. I want to see characters I’ve never seen before, and I want the audience to feel everything they feel for other characters: anger, love, hate. I can get lost in that narrative."
Adrienne Maree Brown
"We’re in a moment of peaked resources at every level.It’s crucial to have powerful, smart, flexible leaders."
The Executive Director of Firelight Media on documentary filmmaking, the YouTube revolution and her new film, Jonestown.
When he started the Ministry of Communications, a private PR firm that merges New York’s vibrant nightlife with political flavor, his ambitions were simple, if not modest: "This is about politicizing our social moments and engaging our politics in a social scene that we love."
"I’m going to continue to work with my clients. I’m going to produce a collection for a few boutiques. I’m going to make an album. I’m doing a cologne, a home line, a fashion magazine, a pattern-making company. I’m going to do it all."
At 28, the Honolulu-born and raised Lt. Watada is the highest ranking U.S. officer to decline a commission in Iraq. A First Lieutenant with over three years’ service, Watada is currently being court-martialed by the U.S. government.
"My goal is to continue to present my culture throughout the world with the integrity that it deserves."
When he made his star turn in 2004’s Hotel Rwanda, he attracted a legion of followers wanting to know more about the horrific 1994 genocide that cost more than 800,000 lives in a 100-day killing spree. This actor’s celebrity activism is making policy, not just headlines.
Judge Arthur Hunter
In 2006, Hunter appointed an investigator to determine the ability of the public defender’s office to provide lawyers for the many prisoners arrested before and after Hurricane Katrina and held indefinitely in New Orleans jails. What did he find? The public defender’s office, financed largely by the now economically decimated city, was flat broke.
Mee Moua and the Minnesota Legislators of Color
You might not think of Minnesota as the frontline in the fight for racial justice. But the four (and only four) members of color in the Minnesota State Legislature are taking serious steps to bridge its deepening racial divide.
ibrahim abdul matin
"At myBLOC, individuals develop their own principles and purpose, so what they do reflects their theory of change," Matin offers. "We’re getting a generation of people to identify with others who have similar values. And as a power-based strategy, it’s preparing a new generation of leaders to govern."
Promoting financial justice through the economic power of immigrants–those who send billions of dollars to families they’ve left behind in their countries of origin.
"No person should be disenfranchised in Mississippi," says the visionary Director of the state’s ACLU.
Instead of reporting to immigration authorities for her deportation order, Arellano took her 7-year-old son Saul and launched the first church sanctuary case in the United States since the 1980s.
"I paint the harsh realities in a world that masks truth behind a bling-bling generation attempting to convince us that we’re all comfortable and living well."
What do you think of the INNOVATORS list? Who would you include? Click here to join the conversation at RACEWIRE, the COLORLINES blog.