Seun Babalola is an activist at Penn State, who is studying for his political science major; he is also the director of SGA’s Diversity Committee at Penn State. He has quickly made his name, as well as his ideas, known through community service drives, fund raisers, ted talks, as well as other forms of activism. He has met with multiple Black mayors across The U.S., has interned for Hillary Clinton, as well as participated in a meeting with Bill Clinton. Seun often connects with people his age and is able to get them active in joining the fight his is involved in. He has made his name known at Penn State by starting a water bottle fund raiser for the people of Flint, Michigan.
In March of 2017, Seun took four days raising money and gathering water bottles for the people of Flint, Michigan. He was active inside the Reed Union Building gathering donations from people walking by. He was able to gather up to 3,000 water bottles and raise about $308. Now, Seun does not have family or necessarily any close friends in Flint, so he did it all out of selfless love, “My thing is that when I’m able to drink tap water freely, and I know that people in Flint and Detroit aren’t able to, it doesn’t resonate well with me”.
In early June 2017, Seun Babalola gave a Ted Talk on racist policing in communities of color. Powerful is an understatement; Seun’s ability to provide solutions to a problem is a key portion to his speech. We have been able to identify racism through patterns, but the ability to give practical solutions to serious problems is extremely important. Please watch the video, even if you think you have a complete understanding. Please don’t be like the elderly white people in the middle row, privileged enough to be on your phone while the story of a murder is being told. Seun is an excellent public speaker, who delivers ideas and content confidently and effectively. Also, it doesn’t hurt that he looks truly dapper in that baby blue.
I was able to grab Seun to answer a few questions:
Q: What sparked your passion for activism?
Seun: “Following my internship with Hillary’s campaign and then the results of the campaign I really became heavily engaged. I was always interested but after November I turned my interest into action and organizing.”
Q: How long have you been involved in this form of activism?
Seun: “I’ve been involved with social justice activism and youth civic engagement work since the summer of 2016.”
Q: What achievements have you made?
“I’ve been blessed with so many opportunities to help advance my community and the country at large. One of the most remarkable ones has been leading a water project for Flint, Michigan where myself and other student leaders at Penn State, my university, were able to collect over 3000 bottles of water and hundreds of dollars in donations for the people of Flint in just four days. Being able to help people that I didn’t know was remarkable.”
Q: What was your most touching moment in this work?
Seun: “The most touching moment for me was when I got to sit down with former Mayor David Dinkins, the first and only African-American mayor of NYC and talk with him about what I’ve done and what I plan to do in the future. He went on to tell me I am our future and that he will be behind me every step of the way. To receive support from such an amazing figure and role model to me was so inspiring.”
Q: Do you receive a lot of hate from people who don’t appreciate the good work you’re doing? If so, how do you handle those people?
Seun: “I definitely do receive occasional hate however it lets me know that I’m doing great work and gives me a stronger drive to continue to do what I do.”
Q: Any big projects coming up?
Seun: “Two big projects are the non-profit I plan on starting and currently being on Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s (current mayor of NYC) Youth Leadership Corps where it is the goal to get NYC Youth civically engaged.”
Q: How would you suggest the youth to get involved early?
Seun: “I would definitely say go to your school, college, church, YMCA, youth center, etc and find out ways to get involved. There is something for everyone and in times such as these it is critical that we get our youth interested, involved, and engaged.”
Q: Do you aim towards working on your immediate community or the larger society? Do you hope to be an influence across America?
“I hope that the work I do in my community in NYC and Penn State can eventually stretch out to the larger society and have a maximum impact. I do hope that the work I do inspires others to do great work as well and that we can all make an influence in our country and beyond.”
Seun Babalola is an example of excellence in the line of work of fighting for the rights of communities of color. We know that racism is not something that will naturally die out, that means fighting for social justice must never die out. Keep your fight alive, and when it seems like you’re running out of fire, just look to the people making a difference, and remember there is always more to be done. The circumstances surrounding your community are not binding, indifference will always be the inhibitor to change.