SAN RAFAEL, CA - The struggle for civil rights and equality is as raw as ever. Most recently the bullying of young gay people has prompted people like Ellen DeGeneres, President Obama, Prime Minister David Cameron and Vice President Biden to speak out. Their voices are joined by lifetime civil rights expert Jill Wakeman.
76-year-old Jill Wakeman has dedicated her life to civil rights, risking her own safety for the equality of African Americans well before the civil rights movement gained national traction. Wakeman has become a national civil rights expert and advocate, fighting first for those whose skin color made them targets of violence and oppression throughout the 60s, and later for women, the underprivileged, and most recently the LGBT community.
She has inspired people all over the world, including her 26-year-old Godson, Aaron McDaniel, who recently decided to give his 75-year old Godmother a special birthday gift - a nonprofit organization in her name, The Jill Wakeman Foundation.
The Foundation's mission is to "work toward creating a world that has true equality for all people, no matter what race, age, gender, orientation, or beliefs." To that end, Aaron has started the "Cups for Equality" micro-giving campaign, asking people to donate simply the amount it would cost them to buy a cup of Joe.
The price of a cup of coffee can pay for:
A week of food and clean water for a woman and her children in a war torn country
A school supply kit or 3 balls to play with for an underprivileged youth
Health care for one living in poverty who cannot afford medical care
A week's materials for an artist in a developing nation who needs food and shelter
Education to stop hate crimes in urban areas
"I created the JWF to give back to a woman who simply defines selflessness and love," McDaniel said. "Just last week, she found out about an anti-gay rights group that was going to protest at Cappucino High School, so she went with a group to stand up against them."
"Jill became like a second Mom to me," he said. "I created The Jill Wakeman Foundation (JWF), to serve as a lasting legacy for not only her name but for the cause she has dedicated her life to, the equality of all people." McDaniel thinks the world of his Godmother, who took him to his first Giants game and taught him the importance that all people are equal.
"I wouldn't be true to myself if I didn't try to make a difference for people who face discrimination. When we all come together, what may seem like an insignificant amount grows and true change happens," Wakeman says. "112 Million Americans drink coffee each day. That amounts to over $18 billion spent on coffee each year! Imagine the change we can make if even .01% of that (our goal) went towards fighting for equality."
All donations go to the fight for women's rights, LGBT equality, eliminating racism, and helping the less fortunate. Organizations that Jill has chosen to benefit include:
Women for Women: helps empower women to stand on their own by working through local programs to insure women retain their basic human right to equality.
Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN): works with youth face the same human rights struggles of racism and sexism as did youth in the 1960's
Willie Mays Say Hey Foundation: helps enrich the lives of underprivileged young people through education and training.
Wakeman hopes her mission of equality will spread to everyone.