Tykera and Aakyra Freedom Summer leads.

SRBWI Announces 8th Unita Blackwell Leadership Institute

The goal of all SRBWI youth development programs is to provide a safe, caring environment where young women can participate in activities designed to enhance their path to adulthood as productive creative individuals.   SRBWI’s Unita Blackwell Young Women’s Leadership Institute is an intensive leadership training program that brings young women from the states of Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi to engage in interactive, challenging and interesting activities designed to increase leadership skills, acquaint and enhance their understanding of the Human Rights agenda.

The 2014 Institute held on the campus of Tougaloo College was an experience we all will cherish because it was also the occasion of the Freedom Summer of 1964 50th Anniversary. Thirty-six young women including eleven from Alabama actively participated in the five-day institute that included panel discussions, youth organizing, one-on-one conversations with Marian Wright Edelman, Julian Bond, the sister of James Chaney and Freedom Summer Activists.  SRBWI young women took charge and led a pilgrimage of over 400 Youth Congress participants on a guided tour to various sites where the Freedom Summer of 1964 events took place, including the site where the three civil rights workers were murdered.

The Honorable Unita Blackwell from Mayersville, Mississippi (the Institute is named in her honor) was the first Black woman elected mayor in the state. Her legacy continues through the work of SRBWI, and particularly with this generation of young women and girls

The Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative (SRBWI) will hold its 11th Annual Unita Blackwell Young Women’s Leadership Institute June 21-30, 2015 at Tougaloo College near Jackson, MS.  The 2015 Institute is open to young women currently in grades 8-12 who live in one of the SRBWI target counties.



The Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative advances economic and social justice for women and young women in the Black Belt Counties of Alabama. SRBWI works with a network of over 1,000 women in rural Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia to attain improvement in economic and social conditions by organizing, educating, and building community projects. FOCAL actively supports community asset development projects and a strong young women’s program, encouraging leadership development and community involvement. FOCAL will host the SRBWI Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on March 3, 2015 at the Rosa Parks Museum at Troy University Montgomery at 6:30 p.m.

FOCAL is the lead organization in Alabama for the Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative (SRBWI). FOCAL collaborates with the Southwest Georgia Project for Community Education in Georgia and the Southern Regional Office of the Children’s Defense Fund in Mississippi to guide and implement this initiative.

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