October 27, 2020 News & Features » Cover Story

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Rebecca Keel, 28 

Virginia Statewide Organizer, Southerners on New Ground

click to enlarge rebeccakeel20.jpg

Scott Elmquist

Growing up in various South Side neighborhoods and traveling to many foreign countries instilled in this social worker and community organizer a nomadic spirit, but also a deep understanding of people.

“I was influenced by learning about the Black Power movement and the Women’s Liberation Movement.” The late Lille A. Estes, a local community advocate for the poor, also had a huge impact on Keel.

“But I have developed a racial consciousness of who I am, by being treated differently from my siblings, who present as African American, since I have albinism. Relatedly, I am visually impaired.” Keel is also queer. Holding a graduate degree in social work from Virginia Commonwealth University, Keel focuses on intersectional strategies to undo what some consider harmful policies that impact the lives of poor, working-class, the LGBTQIA+ community, youth and communities of color.

“The greatest challenge facing Richmond residents is housing: for renters, homeowners and efforts to demolish public housing. A city can’t kick out the working people who built the city. It will lose its soul.”

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