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Black Woman Lead, Founded in Memory of Breonna Taylor, Feeds Thousands of Families in Crenshaw

9:20 AM PDT on July 30, 2020

Volunteers with Black Women Lead enthusiastically hold signs to encourage drivers and pedestrians to stop for a free meal. (Brian Feinzimer)

Volunteers working with the Crenshaw YMCA and Black Women Lead, an organization founded in memory of Breonna Taylor, spent Wednesday distributing thousands of meals to the community.
Volunteers gathered as early as 6A.M. to prep five thousand meals donated by BWL, Frontline Foods LA, Joan's on Third, Luv2EatThai, and IT Catering.  According to BWL founder Shannon Morton, many of the meals went to children who would typically around this time receive food at school or summer camps which have been closed due to COVID-19.

Leaders and volunteers of Black Women Lead.
Black Women Lead formed in Los Angeles after the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and the group says its committed to defunding the police, advocating for anti-racist policy, and investing in the right communities.
Frontline Foods Los Angeles has donated more than 30,000 meals to feed protesters and healthcare workers, and "they are a proud part of World Central Kitchen and the giving leadership of Chef José Andrés."

Black Women Lead

Morton founded Black Woman Lead in the memory of Breonna Taylor after realizing she was born around the same time her late cousin was. It made her think about how Breonna could have been her cousin.
Morton decided to throw a birthday party for Breonna and her cousin that ended up filling Pan Pacific Park with several thousand people. She had Black women speakers  lead the crowd and the reception was extraordinary. And that cemented the idea that "Black women should lead us into this next chapter of progress."

Volunteers and a community member dance to the music playing all day during the food drive. All photos by Brian Feinzimer for L.A. Taco.
“We’re here to amplify Black women and help to preserve Black lives, we’re here to promote the prosperity of Black people,” Morton said. “It’s a tiring job being a Black woman, but if we can help a little bit we can help change our community, start there and together we can change the world.“
According to Morton, Black women lead with how they vote and how the show up for not their own children but for immigrant children. They vote "like their neighbors lives depend on it."

Volunteers work to prepare meals into bags.
Morton heard that Veda Ramsay, the executive director at the Crenshaw YMCA, had been organizing food giveaways on twice a week in the community for the past 15 weeks, giving out more than 80,000 meals.
“With our platform and our community I can help other nonprofits or organizations, I called Veda and said where are your needs, where can I give?" Morton recalled. "Vida has her Tuesday-Thursday giveaway and she wanted an extra day."

Crenshaw YMCA’s Executive Director Veda Ramsay confers with Black Women Lead’s founder Shannon Morton during the giveaway. Ramsay came in during her week off to volunteer.
Ramsay came in to volunteer at Wednesday's giveaway even though she was  on vacation because she saw the importance of the event. Ramsay said she wanted “to see the beauty of all of us in a dance together trying to end food insecurity in our community.”
The dishes given away included a mango chicken coconut rice, Cajun chicken and red bean rice and multiple veggie and vegan options. Veda said “To see the beauty of all of us in a dance together trying to end food insecurity in our community.”

A volunteer paints a sign to attract vehicles and pedestrians to the giveaway.
Volunteers dance on Santa Rosalia Drive to encourage drivers to stop for a free meal.
Volunteers work to remove meals from a transport bag.
A volunteer with Black Women Lead encourages drivers to stop for a meal.
Black Women Lead’s founder Shannon Morton and a volunteer work to unpack meals.
A volunteer passes meals to a driver outside the Crenshaw YMCA.
Black Women Lead’s founder Shannon Morton tracks food received during the meal giveaway.
Black Women Lead founder Morton thanks the first shift of volunteers for their hard work.
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