The Black Studies Collaboratory (BSC) at UC Berkeley is pleased to announce that Zachary Norris will take part in the Abolition Democracy Fellows Program as the first Activist-in-Residence. In Fall 2021, Norris will join a group of scholars, students, artists and activists in a collective workshop dedicated to the world building power of Black studies. As activism, in its many permutations, is at the core of the struggle for Black liberation and thus foundational to the Collaboratory, we are honored to learn from and support Norris’s stalwart community work.
With an unwavering, energetic spirit, Norris champions and imagines emancipated futures made possible through community care. As the Executive Director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Norris enacts his theories in ways that reduce harm and shift away from (and ultimately replace) police and criminalization. Norris, alongside his dedicated colleagues at the Center, has directly impacted the everyday lives of Alameda County residents through initiatives such as stopping the construction of a juvenile superjail; advocating for the rights, proper treatment, and futures of incarcerated youth; mobilizing readership, retraining, and voting campaigns; and offering a myriad of ways for folks to take part in necessary community service. As the cofounder of Restore Oakland, Norris conceives of a path towards a more just future through a collaboration between the Ella Baker Center and the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, where a new center and restaurant becomes a sight for service industry training, collectivity, justice, and economic hope.