Monica Raye Simpson – Activist, Artist, Healer
Monica is the Executive Director of SisterSong, the National Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective. SisterSong was founded in 1997 to amplify and strengthen the collective voices of Indigenous women and women of color and to ensure reproductive justice through securing human rights. Based in the historic West End of Atlanta, GA, SisterSong serves as a national organizing center for feminists of color. Monica was born and raised in rural North Carolina and decided at a young age to dedicate her life to educating and uplifting her community. Monica has organized extensively against human rights violations, reproductive oppression, the prison industrial complex, racism and intolerance, and the systematic physical and emotional violence inflicted upon the minds, bodies and spirits of African Americans with an emphasis on African American women and the African American LBGTQ community.
Monica is a proud graduate of Johnson C. Smith University, one of the country’s historical black universities. Because of her decision to come out as a same-gender loving woman while attending undergrad, Monica became deeply involved in LGBTQ organizing on and off campus. Upon graduation, she was hired as the first person of color at the Lesbian & Gay Community Center in Charlotte, NC as the Operations Director. She made transition from the community center in 2005 to become the Ujamaa Coordinator for Grassroots Leadership where she trained young African Americans from the South in philanthropy, fundraising, and activism. Over the course of her five years of service to Grassroots Leadership, Monica also served as the Grassroots Fundraising Coordinator and supported organizing efforts for their national campaign to abolish for-profit prisons, jails and immigrant detention centers. She worked extensively on Black/Brown bridge building and to bring awareness to the struggles of incarcerated women and it is in this work where we introduced to the Reproductive Justice movement and made a commitment to eradicate all forms of reproductive oppression.
Through her activism and organizational work, Monica has become a nationally sought-after facilitator, organizer and cultural strategist. She served as a founding board member for Charlotte NC Black Gay Pride and the African American Giving Circle of Charlotte. She currently serves as an advisor for the Fund for Southern Communities and a board member for Advocates for Youth and the legendary Highlander Research and Education Center. Monica has been featured in many publications for her advocacy efforts, and has written various articles on LGBTQ issues, philanthropy, activism and artistry. She was named a New Civil Rights Leader by Essence Magazine, and the Advocate Magazine named her one of 40 under 40 activists in the country.
Monica lives by the Paul Robeson’s quote, “If the artist does not create, the world suffers.” She has always used her talents of singing, spoken word and acting in her local community and nationally to address social justice issues. Monica performs regularly with her band in Atlanta, and she released her first album entitled Revolutionary Love. She has also performed in various theatrical productions including, For the Love of Harlem, Words the Isms, Walk Like a Man, The Vagina Monologues and For Colored Girls.