Stories of Resistance: Truth Telling with Local Black Lives Matter Activists

Stories of Resistance: Truth Telling with Local Black Lives Matter Activists


Apr 15, 2023    
2:00 pm - 5:00 pm


Resource Center for Nonviolence
612 Ocean St., Santa Cruz, CA, 95060

Event Type


Free Event!!

In the last 50 years local activists have conducted many actions and campaigns resisting colonialism, violence, racism, exploitation of people.

Stories of Resistance is sponsored by the Resource Center for Nonviolence to lift up movement memories in Santa Cruz County and inspire future activism. In the last 50 years local activists have conducted many actions and campaigns resisting colonialism, violence, racism, exploitation of people and the environment. Story telling about personal and political impacts, racial dynamics encountered, and learnings for future organizing will help us transform our society and ourselves.

We are delighted to welcome Bella Bonner and Joy Flynn, two local Black Lives Matter organizers. Join us to witness Bella and Joy engage in a call and response between their two movements. Joy Flynn initiated the first Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Santa Cruz May 30 and 31, 2020, right after George Floyd was murdered by police in Minneapolis, May 25, 2020. Bella Bonner organized the largest Black Lives Matter march on West Cliff June 3rd, 2020 the first Black Lives Matter protest in Capitola on August 5, 2020 and a paddle out as part of global Black Lives Matter uprisings in the wake of the police murder of George Floyd. We will be learning their methods for organizing, key takeaways, how the community is impacted, and learn from their perspectives on where we go from here.

Esabella Bonner is a long-time Santa Cruz resident, entrepreneur, visionary, and award winning changemaker/activist working to help bridge our local community. In 2020, Bella followed her gut and organized one of the largest social protest gatherings Santa Cruz County has ever seen with over 5,000 people in attendance. While this was the first protest she organized, it was a great success and opened up a world of movement work to her. She then went and organized the community to make space for black and brown people at various paddle outs as a part of protests on the water in Santa Cruz to support BLM. This led Bella to creating Black Surf Santa Cruz where she is the founder and executive director for the award winning organization which aims to promote physical, spiritual, and communal wellness and healing through surfing, recreation, education, and advocacy for our local community.

Joy Flynn organized the first peaceful action in response to the public execution of George Floyd in an effort to uplift and bring visibility to the siloed Black community, raise awareness about our experience and need for change in Santa Cruz. As a result of her action Joy worked with former Mayor now County Supervisor Justin Cummings and former SC Police Chief Andy Mills on police policy change around accountability, use of technology, use of force to name a few. She worked with the city of Watsonville on police reform and with the city of Capitola on uncovering bias, and as community advisor for the county’s Criminal Justice Council. Joy has worked on other initiatives such as health inequalities, working with other members of the Black community and with former Supervisor John Leopold to have racism declared a public health crisis. In response Supervisor Leopold created the CARESJ (commission on Anti-Racism, Equity & Social Justice) where Joy was appointed and still serves today. Joy has been recognized both locally and nationally for her work. In 2021 Joy received the Officer Jim Howes award for outstanding service to the City of Santa Cruz and was recognized nationally after winning our regional Jefferson Award.

Now board emeritus for second harvest food bank, Joy is passionate about addressing issues around poverty, food access inequalities. Joy currently serves as an advisor for BHMI (Black Health Matters Initiative) and is a member of the board of directors for PCS (Pacific Collegiate School) where she helps to bring an equity lens and works on the Diversity Committee. As a single mother Joy loves raising her two teen-aged children in the same area she was raised. Joy is honored to build and serve her community and help make it a safe and thriving place to live, work and play.

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