2021 Courageous Love Hero, Nyla Choates

Our Love Hero Award for 2021 goes to someone who bravely shows up to challenge oppression and violence. Our awardee, Nyla Choates, is a high school senior. She organized Milpitas’ Black Lives Matter event and founded My Roots are Rich to empower and inspire by reinforcing the rich culture and contributions of African Americans. In 2020 they shared videos reading children’s books. Choates was a whistleblower in 2019 when a teacher wore blackface.

See what Nyla said when interviewed here:

Who are your heroes? Every day we hear news about oppression and violence. As Mr. Rogers so famously said, “look for the helpers”. We not only want to look for them, but to honor them! Mission Peak UU Congregation presents an award each February to an individual or group in our area who has been courageously showing up to challenge oppression and violence. The award will be paired with our February Share the Plate, so will come with a monetary prize. Contact Allysson McDonald with your suggestions and a few words about your nominee and why you are nominating them.

Does someone or a group in the Tri-Cities area (Fremont, Union City, Newark) or Milpitas come to mind? Is there someone who has inspired a local movement for love? Is there an organization or individual who has faced oppression, discrimination, and prejudice with grace and inspired determination? The goal is to recognize love’s power to challenge exclusion, oppression and violence based on sexual orientation, gender identity, immigration status, race, religion, or any other identity. In the past we’ve honored folks such as Samina Sundas (American Muslim Voice), Arnav Gupta (Youth Radio), Sister Ramona (Interfaith Sisters of Peace), Pat Skillen (Fremont/East Bay PFLAG),  the TriCities Interfaith Council, and others.

Here are some ideas for people or organizations you might consider nominating for our next Courageous Love Hero Award:

  • Local legislator who has sponsored legislation such as anti-bullying bills, domestic partner benefits, voting rights for convicted felons, driver’s licenses or in-state tuition for undocumented individuals, etc. Anything that lifts up communities who have faced discrimination and marginalization. 
  • Community leader or group who has vocally supported religious freedom and racial justice. 
  • Local public librarian, teacher, or parent who has fought censorship in schools.
  • Head of a local interfaith coalition, immigrant rights, or LGBTQ advocacy organization that promotes respect, inclusion, and compassion daily.
  • Members of the Gay-Straight Alliance at a local high school.
  • Educator, administrator, or guidance counselor who has worked to alleviate bullying. 
  • Clergy member or lay leader who has exemplified faith in action.
  • Religious communities and congregations that have been targeted with hate crimes.
  • Individuals who have committed acts of civil disobedience so they could elevate the importance of a social justice issue. 
  • Local community center, museum, or gallery that faced criticism for showcasing a thought- provoking exhibit. 
  • Students who have risked deportation to advocate for the DREAM Act or DACA, and those who have stood in strong solidarity with them. 
  • Communities of color on campus or locally that have dealt with vandalism or hate speech. 
  • University or college president, professor, or administrator who has spoken up for the DREAM Act.