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OurStates is a project of StayWoke, a left-of-center activism group born out of the Black Lives Matter movement. The nearly defunct project serves as a resource for activists on the state level to identify and track legislation to support or oppose. The project also includes guidance for activists to contact their legislators and to organize protests and garner attention to issues.


OurStates, as a project of StayWoke Inc. is an extension of the Black Lives Matter movement and was launched in 2017 as a way to “reject Trump’s agenda” at the state level. Prior to its founding the leaders of the project were associated with the activist newsletter This is the Movement, which was co-edited by Johnetta Elzie and StayWoke founder and president DeRay Mckesson. The last archived newsletter, dated March 27, 2017, announces the launch of the project. 1 2 Three of the four members of the group’s planning team have their emails associated with the newsletter listed as their contact information. 3


OurStates provides activists with information about introduced legislation in state legislatures. Users can select a category of interest, which includes issues such as police accountability, abortion accessibility, gun control, and immigration, and see the group’s rating on whether the legislation undermines or supports the group’s left-of-center stance on issues. Users can also track the status of the bills through the legislative process. 4

Users are encouraged to use a six step process of engaging with legislators to advocate for and against legislation and assist in the process. If those steps fail to get results users are encouraged to use the media to apply pressure to their representatives, and if needed engage in “direct action” and protests. 5

The site’s activism guide has not been updated since 2017, and the downloadable spreadsheet for tracking bills was out of date as of early 2019. However, the “issue map” portion of the site seems to currently be up to date and is powered by the Open State API. 6


DeRay Mckesson is the president of StayWoke, the parent organization of OurStates. He is a prominent Black Lives Matter activist and organizer. He, along with   Samuel Sinyangwe and Brittany Packnett founded Campaign Zero, a group focused on policing reform. He is a cohost of the Pod Save the People podcast hosted by Crooked Media. 7 8

Samuel Sinyangwe is the data scientist for OurStates and a cofounder of the Mapping Police Violence project and co-founder, along with Mckesson and Packnett, of Campaign Zero. He was named a Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2017. He is also a cohost of Pod Save the People and9 10 a board member of StayWoke. 11

Brittany Packnett is a member of the OurStates planning board in an unspecified capacity. She is a cofounder of Campaign Zero and is also a cohost of Crooked Media’s Pod Save the People. 12 13


  1. “This Is the Movement Newsletter March 27, 2017.”, March 27, 2017. Accessed January 14, 2020.
  2. Simms, Molly. “Fighting Chance: How Johnetta Elzie Became a Civil Rights Crusader.” Oprah.Com, July 2015.
  3. “OurStates Planning Team.” Accessed January 14, 2020.
  4. “OurStates.” Accessed January 14, 2020.
  5. “OurStates.” Accessed January 14, 2020.
  6. “OurStates.” Accessed January 14, 2020.
  7. “OurStates Planning Team.” Accessed January 14, 2020.
  8. “Pod Save the People.” Accessed January 15, 2020.
  9. “OurStates Planning Team.” Accessed January 14, 2020.
  10. “Pod Save the People.” Accessed January 15, 2020.
  11. StayWoke Inc, IRS (Form 990), 2017, Part IV
  12. “OurStates Planning Team.” Accessed January 14, 2020.
  13. “Pod Save the People.” Accessed January 15, 2020.
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