Lauryn Donovan is a 15-year-old tenth grader with a warm heart and a determined soul. In elementary school, Lauryn was the kid who befriended a friendless girl and defended a disabled boy. By middle school, she had joined the “Friends of LGBQT Club” because she felt empathy for the way those oppressed by the mainstreaum. Around this time, she discovered the power of social media and spent much of her spare time learning about history and then attempting to educate other kids in her social media circles about African American oppression. She especially enjoyed debating about the existence and impact of white privilege. She soon discovered that others sometimes have opposing opinions and are equally as strong willed as her, but that only served to fuel her passion.
Lauryn is equally as passionate about promoting positive self-awareness and uplifting other black girls who may not realize their beauty and value. Her dream is to uplift individuals and communities who routinely experience oppression, such as women, LGBTQ and racial, ethnic and religious minorities. She's especially close to the Black Lives Matter movement and the disparate treatment of blacks versus whites by police officers. Her first taste of activism came about when she helped to organize a teacher-led walkout at her school after a series of racially motivated incidents at the school. She was a featured speaker at the 2017 and 2018 Women's Marches in St. Louis and also served as a panelist at The Crooked Room education conference in 2017. She is one of three local teens, along with three South American teens, who will be a featured in a documentary by NYC-based Human Pictures. The film, still in development, highlights the striking similarities between racial climates and student activism in Ferguson, MO and a small town in Colombia. The goal is to have each set of teens visit the others’ country next summer.
Lauryn was an invited speaker for the student Democrats at Saint Louis University in March 2018, where she gave a very engaging lecture about her experience of growing up as a black girl in a mostly white community. In addition, she was interviewed about her activism on NPR radio last summer. Lauryn was selected by her school to attend a fully paid in-residence program this summer to study race relations and activism. She was also recently accepted for the Cultural Leadership program, a year long intensive learning experience focused on Jewish and African American history and cultures. The program will culminate in a three week long adventure to various historically significant sites in the US next summer.
Lauryn plans to continue learning and developing her skills as a writer and activist. She is also passionate about her spoken word poetry writing and performances. She’s a member of the Show Me Arts Academy, a youth performance arts organization, and Youth Poet Ambassador at Urb Arts in St. Louis.