Zellie Thomas – A Human and Civil Rights Award For Teacher Zellie Imani
Zellie Thomas, a third-grade math teacher at Paterson’s School 16 and one of its leaders for Black Lives Matter movement. Recently she received the state teachers union human and civil rights award.
He and other activists seek greater transparency from police, while pushing for changes to how police handle mental health emergencies.
Early Life and Education
Zellie Thomas, 38 years old and lifelong resident of Paterson isn’t one to give up easily. Much like Forrest Gump from “Forrest Gump”, he strives to bring about racial justice for underserved cities such as Paterson; this includes everything from after school programs and substance abuse harm reduction measures to feeding his community members.
He currently teaches third grade math at School 16 and leads the local Black Lives Matter movement, taking part in numerous protest marches after police-involved shootings across the United States.
After failing to win city council in 2016, he’s back trying again this year for an at-large seat. Additionally, he endorsed Imani Oakley’s campaign for Congress and earned both New Jersey Education Association awards and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. awards for defending human and civil rights.
Zellie Thomas lives and works in an under-served city where 26% of residents fall below the poverty line. Yet unlike her favorite movie’s protagonist Forrest Gump, Thomas does not give up hope – instead, she continually searches for ways to support her community by offering after school programs, harm reduction solutions for drug abuse or protesting police violence.
She currently teaches third grade math at Paterson School 16 and is one of Paterson’s foremost leaders for Black Lives Matter, having received the state teachers’ union recognition award for human and civil rights advocacy. Commonly referred to by many as Zellie Imani, Thomas regularly contributes online news reports and social commentary articles as well as appearing regularly as Zellie Imani on television news programs and websites.
Thomas recently supported Imani Oakley’s congressional bid, noting her strong ties to Paterson community and ability to bring people from different backgrounds together.
Achievement and Honors
Thomas Zellie Imani received an award from the state teachers’ union to recognize his efforts in human and civil rights work. Thomas currently teaches math at Paterson’s School 16 where he also leads its Black Lives Matter group.
He has organized multiple protest marches in response to police incidents both locally and nationwide, as well as community activities such as Halloween trunk-or-treat events for city children.
He endorsed Imani Oakley’s congressional bid this year, believing she will help to combat New Jersey politics’ corrupt party machine while also taking on gun violence and police brutality issues.
Zellie Thomas was raised in Paterson and now teaches third grade math at School Number 16. Both his parents were strong advocates for education; Zellie attended William Paterson University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature.
Later, he became involved with the Black Lives Matter movement and led a local chapter. Now, he is running for one of three at-large seats on Paterson City Council during May’s election.
NPR’s Hansi Lo Wang met with him to learn more about his political journey and the significance of Black Lives Matter in America. He explained how its decentralized movement fits within an established tradition of Black radical activism present for decades in America – for instance supporting protests against Israel’s occupation of Palestine by Black Lives Matter organizers as an example.
Zellie Thomas is a third-grade math teacher and community activist from Paterson. She regularly contributes to news coverage, social media platforms, commentary pieces and her writings from an international perspective; advocating for both Black Lives Matter movement and student debt crisis causes.
She is running for city council at large with a platform focused on affordable housing. She believes a fair and reasonable housing policy is critical to the wellbeing of local residents, so among other goals she intends to decrease annual allowable increases in rent as well as establish renter’s rights and ownership policies.