Umi Selah (formerly Phillip Agnew), a native of Chicago, Ill., found his voice as a community activist while a student at FAMU, where he served as student body president from 2006-2007. In 2008, he was honored with the University’s prestigious Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Student Leadership Award.
In 2005, he helped to organize students from FAMU, Florida State University and Tallahassee Community College in the creation of the Student Coalition for Justice, which was formed in response to the Martin Lee Anderson case.
In 2012, he co-founded the Dream Defenders, an organization committed to shifting the culture through transformational organizing. Celebrated for helping to bring such tragedies as the Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown cases to the public’s attention, the organization is dedicated to building a community of love and reconciliation and training and organizing young people in nonviolent civil disobedience, transformative organizing, and direct action.
At only 29, Selah has been dubbed “one of this generation’s leading voices” and recognized by both EBONY magazine and The Root as one of the 100 most influential African Americans in the nation. His work in community activism has been highlighted internationally, including on MSNBC and in the Huffington Post, USA Today, the Guardian and Democracy Now.
Agnew is a 2008 graduate of FAMU’s School of Business and Industry and is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.