Tyra Beaman, C'2016
Social Justice Fellow Tyra Beaman is a graduating senior who is studying international studies with a cultural studies concentration and a minor in Spanish.
Beaman's passion for social justice began at a young age with her leadership in the Virginia NAACP Youth and College Division of Jack and Jill of America Inc., presidential political campaigns, voter empowerment activism, and efforts to increase opportunities for mentally disabled students to integrate into her high school campus culture.
Today, Beaman serves as a Social Justice Fellow, Student Government Association director of leadership and civic engagement, Honors Program student, co-president of Jenesse University Domestic Violence Prevention Group, Change Agent Fellow for the Joseph and Evelyn Lowery Institute, vice president of the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, and executive board member of the Rotaract Club. The Richmond, Virginia native is on the Dean’s List with a 3.75 GPA, and was First-Year and Sophomore Class president. She was also named a 2015 Truman Scholarship finalist.
She began the first "Intercollegiate Race, Class and Gender Identity Discussion" between racially and sociology-economically diverse groups of Metro Atlanta college students. Beaman has continued her work on identity politics by building transnational relationships through study-abroad experiences in Argentina, Uruguay and Haiti.
She recently traveled to Cape Town, South Africa to engage with coloured South Africans on the topic of racial identity and comparing the perceived post-racism America to the Post-Apartheid South Africa.
Recently, Beaman led the "Difficult Dialogues" discussion into its third year of success and relationship building. The discussion, themed, "BARS: Examining Systems of Oppression," was well attended and productive thanks to the following student leaders: juniors Nkenge Walcott, Kierra McHenry and Lizette Terry; sophomores Jillian Lea, Mia Anderson and Betanya Mehar; and first-year Clark Atlanta University student Jessie Scott.
The students and attendees from throughout the Metropolitan Atlanta area discussed the prison industrial complex and its intersections in education, health, politics and economics in the United States. Most importantly, they examined ways in which an individual's identity -- no matter what race, class, or gender -- impacts or is impacted by the PIC.
The purpose of Difficult Dialogues is to provide a safe space for students of different backgrounds, understandings, and opinions to have productive and intellectual discussions regarding present-day social issues with a scholarly lens.
Making an Impact on Capitol Hill
Beaman soared on Capitol Hill the summer of 2014. As a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation intern, Beaman worked in the Office of U.S. Congressman John Lewis, where she learned about the legislative process, attended professional development events, and participated in leadership development projects. While on Capitol Hill, Beaman and other CBCF interns learned about leadership and careers in the policymaking process.
In 2013, Beaman became a Moton Fellow with The Gloucester Institute in Richmond, Virginia, where she collected oral history and conducted research on the late Robert Russa Moton, Ph.D., the Virginia-born educator and author who succeeded Booker T. Washington as the head of Tuskegee Institute in 1915. Beaman spent time at the Holly Knoll/Moton Conference Center in Glocester, Virginia, creating the Commemoration Project highlighting Dr. Moton's life. She compiled stories, artifacts, documents and contacts to create a pamphlet that will soon be used as a booklet or introductory piece for guests at Holly Knoll and the Moton Center in Gloucester.
The Gloucester Institute trains and nurtures emerging leaders. There, scholars receive support to conduct intensive research to discover the best solutions to the social, economic, and political problems facing the African-American community. International studies major Sydney Mance, C'2016, also participated in the program.