“United, Unafraid, Undefeated, Unstoppable Leaders.” That is the description by the students of U-Lead Athens. Since August 2014 they meet every Thursday night at Oconee United Methodist Church, on the boundary of the University of Georgia (a university that bans undocumented students). Mentors and allies from the university (the UGA Undocumented Student Alliance) and the community gather to eat and study and plan for the future. Their mission statement states that they assist high school and recent graduates in preparing for college, identifying schools that are open to un(der)documented students, and applying for scholarships and other financial support. U-Lead Athens is a sanctuary, in the many meanings of that term, providing a supportive community.
In August 2018 my daughter Jacy and I visited U-Lead on a Thursday evening and interviewed current college students who returned to visit or volunteer, some current students, the director of volunteers, PhD student Nikki Luke, and two of the co-directors, Prof. JoBeth Allen and Prof. Betina Kaplan. The conversations set the context of the discrimination and anti-immigrant laws in Georgia, the activist work of students and allies to change these laws and provide access to higher education and in-state tuition, as well as working on justice issues around TPS and DACA status. The students shared their stories, their art, and their hopes and challenges.
Equal access to education is a human right. To support U-Lead Athens, click here:
U-Lead Athens website home page:
Eileen Truax, Dreamers: An Immigrant Generation’s Fight for Their American Dream (Beacon, 2015)
Jose Antonio Vargas, Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen (HarperLuxe, 2018).
Laura Wides-Muñoz, The Making of a Dream: How a Group of Undocumented Immigrants Helped Change What It Means to Be an American (Harper, 2018).
For information about DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals):