Jason and Matthew speak with Leon Ford about his advocacy and activism in Pittsburgh and across the United States. The conversation weaves in and through the wisdom that Leon has earned through tragedy, pain and self reflection...and its relationship to our work of protest and partnership.
Leon Ford, a native of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania born on March 16, 1993, has accomplished so much in such a short period of time. The well-known author, International speaker, and 2019 City Council candidate for Pittsburgh, PA District 9 has devoted his life to the betterment of his community. Leon Ford is a well-respected activist, mental health ambassador and social advocate of change through his leadership. Ford’s influence in his community has divulged a heroic display of strength, wisdom, faith, and fortitude.
His knowledge of social disparities and injustice comes from personal experience. When Leon was 19 years old his life drastically changed. November 11, 2012, he was unjustly shot five times by the Pittsburgh Police during a racially charged traffic stop. This horrific case of mistaken identity has left him physically paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair, but Ford hasn’t allowed his circumstances to deter him from having a positive impact on his community.
Through mentorship, he has sparked a movement cultivating leaders, organizers and social entrepreneurs by empowering them to use their voices, platforms, and resources to evoke change and reshape their communities for generations to come. His mentorship endeavors have transcended into Universities. Ford’s latest partnership with Duquense University bridges the gap between the community, students, professors and community leaders through a program known as “The Voices Project”. This program provides an open space to discuss literacy, social reform, gentrification, police brutality, and several other social disparities.
While Ford is passionate about educating the community he has also devoted time to work with police officers to help provide clarity on cultural competency. His work also includes working with PA legislators to draft policies that modify the use of force laws, which will in turn increase chances to receive justice during officer involved shootings. Ford continues to display true leadership through his work while also being a source of healing, hope, and inspiration.
Leon Ford's work has not gone unnoticed. He has received several awards including but not limited to: President Obama’s Volunteer Service Award in 2017; The Root 100 in 2018; & Pittsburgh’s 40 Under 40 in 2019.
Despite hardships, he continues to be a voice for the voiceless and a leader to those in need of direction.
- Follow Leon Ford on Instagram: @leonfordspeaks
On the Web
- Leon Ford's Website
- What It’s Like to Survive Being Shot by the Police
- Surviving a Police Shooting turned a Teenager into an Activist