Saraya Hamidi

In honor of The Hun School’s annual MLK Leadership Summit, a special community meeting was held to discuss the philosophy of nonviolent social change. During the assembly, Saraya Hamidi ’16 updated the Hun community on her work  over the past several months on the Justice for Elijah Mcclain social movement. 

Over the summer, Ms. Hamidi learned of the unjust death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year old, unarmed Black man, from Aurora, Colorado. In response to his death, she channeled her anger into creating the Instagram page, @justiceforElijahMcClain, in hopes of bringing justice to Elijah and his family. Ms. Hamidi began actively posting and spreading awareness of this case on social media and launched a digital petition calling for the officers involved in Elijah’s death to be held accountable for their actions. In just a few short months, the account has grown to 200,000 followers; and the petition has over 5.6 million signatures.

After the account grew to include a national following, Ms. Hamidi noted that celebrities began messaging her offering to get involved. Ms. Hamidi  began working with celebrities like Ben Platt, Virgil Abloh, Jonathan Van Ness, Busy Philipps, and others to create a viral video that put sustained pressure on city officials to arrest the police officers involved in Elijah’s death. Over time, her video was featured on Good Morning America and several other news outlets. 

At the time, Ms. Hamidi  was working as an account strategist at Google, and spent her days working for Google and her nights working for Elijah McClain. Eventually, she made the difficult decision to leave her job at Google to become a full-time activist. 

“I was working so hard all day for my job and then working so hard all night on something that I’m really passionate about.” she said. “I realized that I want to be working in a space that leaves the greatest impact and that fulfills me. Eventually, I knew that I could be making a much bigger impact if I dedicate all of my time and energy to this.” 

During her time at Hun, Ms. Hamidi was an active member of the Diversity Club, The Middle Eastern Club, and also attended the annual MLK Leadership Summit as a student, a student facilitator, and later while a student at Columbia University, came back to participate as a core facilitator. 

“The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion department taught me everything I needed to know,” Ms. Hamidi  said. “It’s where I really found my home and I wouldn’t be doing any of this work if it wasn’t for everything that this department taught me.” 

Since dedicating her time and energy to the Justice for Elijah McClain project, Saraya Hamidi has worked tirelessly with the city council in Colorado. Most recently, ketamine, the drug that was used to kill Elijah has been made illegal for law enforcement to use and his case has just been moved over to the grand jury.

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