Sandra Bland had a promising future ahead of her. The 28-year-old was about to start a new job, and launch a website with her friend, Chenai Okammor. But in July, police pulled her over for changing lanes without signaling, an altercation ensured, and she was taken to jail. She was found dead, hanging in her cell, three days later.
Bland's death prompted a social media firestorm, with activists demanding the world #SayHerName and insisting that authorities investigate the circumstances around her death. But Bland wasn't just another statistic: She was a person, someone who had strong opinions and grand ambitions. And people are making sure the world doesn't forget that.
As a special preview of her upcoming newsletter, Lenny, Lena Dunham spoke with Okammor about her and Bland's site, Woman4Woman, which launched Monday. "We wanted to restore Sandra to the fullness of her life," editor Doreen St. Félix wrote.
"What became clear to me as I met more with Sandra was that she was finding her own voice," Okammor said. "She had such a commitment to having women tell their own stories and she helped them talk about things they hadn't talked about before."
Bland was an activist against police brutality, and Dunham and Okammor discussed how personal and painful her arrest must have been. And when people criticized her or the response to her death, they argue that the critics miss the point:
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Megan Friedman is the former managing editor of the Newsroom at Hearst. She's worked at NBC and Time, and is a graduate of Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism.
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