Sparrow is civil rights champion

Savannah Sparrow at the commemorative MLK march to the Florida Capitol in January. Photo courtesy of Sparrow

When it comes to the fight for social justice, you can find Savannah Sparrow on the front line, armed with knowledge, compassion for others and the guts to say what needs to be said.

A third-year political science student at Florida A&M University, Sparrow has a passion for confronting the inequalities of today’s society through activism, awareness and action.

Despite being born in Sacramento, California on April 26, 2000, Sparrow was raised overseas. She spent seven years living in Japan and graduated from high school in Germany. This exposed Sparrow to different societies and customs.

“Living overseas and traveling to dozens of countries made me extremely culturally aware and tolerant,” Sparrow said. “I never viewed people from other countries different from myself. I always upheld the same respect and gratitude toward them as I would myself, and they always did the same,” she said.

Although Sparrow was not physically in America at the time, she still got a taste of the discrimination that people of color in America face from their oppressive counterparts.

“While overseas I experienced racism from white Americans in my high schools,” Sparrow said. “Each time I visited the United States, I was bombarded with nasty looks and comments from non-people of color and I never understood it.”

It wasn’t until the realization of a disheartening actuality in a summer humanities class that then 18-year-old Sparrow truly understood the frustration that she was feeling.

“All we learned about were the amazing accomplishments of white people,” Sparrow said.

Sparrow wondered to herself why she never learned about the importance of Black history and questioned the validity of what she was learning about white history.

Sparrow chose Florida A&M University, hoping it would bring harmony to the dissonance between her past and what she hoped to make of her future.

“I was raised by a white woman,” Sparrow said. “I didn’t grow up around my father’s family and I knew that if I wanted to grow into the person I was meant to be, I had to get out of my comfort zone.”

Sparrow was aware of the fact that some of the predominantly white environments that she found herself in before college were not conducive to the goals she had when it came to the betterment of the Black community.

According to Sparrow, attending FAMU aligned with the plans she had to learn about the Black community and implement social change by actively being present firsthand.

“Watching social injustice from the outside was painful,” Sparrow said. “I had to come to FAMU to understand what was really going on or I would’ve never been equipped enough to sit at the table and discuss it.”

Sparrow serves as the president of the FAMU chapter of the Dream Defenders, a non profit organization founded in April 2012 after the shooting death of unarmed, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford. Dream Defenders works with young people of all races to build power in marginalized communities and advance its vision of a better life for all people.

Savannah Sparrow at the commemorative MLK march to the Florida Capitol in January. Photo courtesy of Sparrow

This past year the organization focused on preparing students for the primary election and informing young voters on the voting process.

“Savannah was really big on talking to students and the people of the neighborhoods surrounding FAMU,” Dream Defender vice president Shamya Matthews said. “She wanted to teach political literacy and explain how the primaries work.”

Dèja Wilson, a third year psychology student and Dream Defenders member, finds that Sparrow’s character is reflected in the effort that she puts forth with the organization.

“Savannah’s work as the president of Dream Defenders is truly inspiring,” Wilson said. “From encouraging people to vote to continuously preaching for civil rights for minorities, she never gives up on what she believes in.”

After graduating from FAMU in 2021, Sparrow plans to continue her activism while enrolling in law school and specializing in civil rights law.

In the meantime, Sparrow fights for those that feel that they might not be strong enough to fight for themselves. While she knows that the war will be a long and hard one, she charges forward because she knows that if it was meant to be easy, everyone would be doing it.