Social Activist Org ‘Radical Brownies’ Ushering In A New Era Of Girls In Leadership


Thought the Girl Scouts were the only organization that encouraged leadership in girls from a young age? A new organization has emerged out of Oakland, California, giving girls another option for social justice as they grow up.

They are called Radical Brownies, and let’s be honest, just the name alone sounds like the group we totally wished we could be in when we were in school, right?

The group was launched early January 2015  by founders and friends Marilyn Hollinquest and Anayvette Martinez as a way to “empower young girls of color to step into their collective power, brilliance and leadership to make the world a more radical place”.

The geographical location of the Radical Brownies is significant, because as the Guardian points out, the Bay Area was the birthplace of the The Black Panthers and Brown Berets social activist organizations as well as individual stand-out activists Angela Davis, Grace Reyes, and Yuri Kochiyama in the 1960s and 70s.

The Radical Brownies are not affiliated with the Girl Scouts in any way, and so far only have 12 girls ranging in age from 8-12. The girls learn about black history, civil rights and social justice and their reward system includes a “Black Lives Matter” badge and lessons in sustainable agriculture for a “Food Justice” badge. “Radical Beauty,” “Radical Self-Love,” and “LGBT Ally” badges are also on the curriculum.

“I began to imagine what a radical young girl’s social justice troop looked like,” Martinez said about why she wanted to form the Radical Brownies. “A group that centered and affirmed her experiences as a beautiful and brilliant brown girl against so many societal pressures to conform to mainstream ideals of girlhood.”

Anayvette Martinez says her own daughter inspired her to create this group, as she saw the need for a group that would empower and encourage her to form bonds of sisterhood with other girls in her community.


As she was blooming into a young girl of color, I watched her begin to navigate her identity and growthI began to imagine what a radical young girl’s social justice troop looked like; a group that centered and affirmed her experiences as a beautiful and brilliant brown girl against so many societal pressures to conform to mainstream ideals of girlhood. I shared this idea with her and she lit up with excitement.

Their mission is to also teach the young members about intersectionality and emphasize the importance of inclusivity.

“As queer women of color and avid trans allies we believe in creating trans and gender non-conforming inclusive spaces. We embrace the spectrum of gender diversity throughout our lessons and activities with group members.”

They are currently in the process of applying to become a non-profit organization and also have plans to expand in the future. Right now the Oakland chapter is the only one in existence and their website isn’t even completely built out! Yet they are getting a lot of attention from the media around the world.

They have an active Facebook page where they share photos, information about what they are doing and events they are involved in.

We were inspired by the legacies of social justice movements and the desire to create a space centered on the development of young girls of color. We desire to empower and nurture their strength. In these trying times for our communities of color with histories of struggle and beautiful resilience, this space is rare, necessary and should be celebrated.

The news headlines over the past couple of years have been dotted with major incidents that involve racial tensions. The Trayvon Martin shooting, the Michael Brown shooting, the choking of Eric Garner, the killing of 7-year old Aiyana Jones and many other men and women who have caused this nation to address the issue of racial violence once again.

What Radical Brownies is doing is engaging with young minds about issues they see in the media everyday and allow them to talk in an environment which encourages them to speak up. It is the kind of platform that every child everywhere should have, and it is no wonder they are already getting requests to set up additional chapters in different locations.


While the aforementioned activist groups of the 60s and 70s were seen as revolutionary and radical, we are living in a time when we need more normalcy of colored voices and representations in the media and in society. We need more ethnic women of all ages and backgrounds representing us in our federal governments. How will this happen?

By empowering girls as young as 8 to foster the excellence that lies within them, and empower them to be great thinkers and question the standards that exist today.

We are indeed huge supporters of what the Girl Scouts are doing today in America, especially in the way of girls leadership initiatives, and of course the famous Ban Bossy campaign starring Beyonce.

These are the kind of organizations that need to be more present in the lives of our youth so that they aren’t distracted by superficial and dangerous trends. The more we engage in the future generations and allow them the space to foster their own ideas and opinions, perhaps the youth crime statistics would change.

It’s only early days, but we’re excited to hear more about the Radical Brownies, and see the radical impact these pre-teen girls will have on tomorrow’s leaders.




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