When we sat down to talk with Satura Dudley, a 19-year-old University of South Alabama student and Girl Spring intern, we had no idea how her passion would affect us. She is committed to making the world a safe and equal place for all, and through her activism and advocacy, Satura is changing Birmingham for the better. When we asked her where she sees herself in five years, Satura responded, “Lawyer? Senator? On the Supreme Court? President? Take your pick!” And that is the kind of self-confidence and fearless goal-setting that we love to see, not only in girls and young women, but in all women. Prepare to be amazed by what this young woman is doing to better our community, this city and the world. Meet Satura Dudley, today’s FACE of Birmingham!
Take us through your advocacy journey.
The first protest I ever participated in was the Women’s March. I was very distraught at that time, so I began to become more of an advocate for women through the organization that I am now interning for, Girl Spring. It’s a mainly digital-based platform and an empowerment group for young women. The idea is to push confidence and reliable information to young girls. Over the past year, we have hosted multiple events revolving around how empowered women can empower women. I spoke at many of Girl Spring’s events, and after I became more comfortable speaking out, I began to protest with White Birminghamians for Black Lives, which pushes white people to understand their privilege and how they can use it against racism. The main idea we try to push is that black lives do matter. I spoke at these protests on topics ranging from the importance of speaking out as a white person to how long black people have been enduring this racism.
Unfortunately, I never got much attention for any of my other activism except for March For Our Lives. At the same time, I was put in charge of my school’s Walk Out, which brought further attention to all of the recent school shootings.
I believe people think activism is cool and edgy, but it’s very taxing and complicated. I spend most of the time stressing and hoping everything will go perfectly, but I know it is my responsibility to do everything I can to help people.
Do you have a specifically moving moment from one of these protests or your advocacy work that you’d like to share?
After March For Our Lives, I continued my activism, working with this individual who exhibited characteristics I’ve always been afraid to have. This person was only about getting forward politically, and the activism work they were doing was no longer based on helping people, but on fame. This really shook me to my core. Not only did I realize I must watch out for people like this, but I also become more passionate and sure this was the area I wanted to go into. I knew that my future would be based on helping people.
Where did this passion come from?
Until around the 10th grade, I was very unaware of the racism, even with the racist experiences I have encountered. I only assumed that my experiences involving racism or sexism were rare occasions and everyone else knew it was wrong. But, when I saw Philando Castile’s murder it shook me to my core. I have always been a very empathetic person, but I guess you could say I became ‘woke’ in that moment. From then on, I was aware of all the horrific injustice in America.
Do you ever feel that people do not take you seriously due to your young age?
People don’t always take me seriously, but I’m also a strong black woman with an opinion in America, so I wasn’t expecting them to. I’m either seen as a child who has yet to learn anything, a fragile woman who doesn’t need to be involved or an angry black woman — all for having an opinion. I tend to keep my calm and continue to express my ideals. I shouldn’t have to prove myself, but I do.
What is most challenging about your work?
I think hope is one of the biggest struggles for both myself and other activists. Our entire job is to look at the worst parts of the world and try to fix them.
The most rewarding thing for me is being able to use my privilege to help others. I am very light skin, meaning I have more privilege than darker skin people of color. I am privileged in many different ways, and being able to use the privilege to help others is amazing.
What inspires you?
Seeing good people. The small, good things people do make me believe this world is worth saving. When my mom’s car broke down, a random man came up to us and helped us jump her car. We didn’t ask him to; he just did. I saw a woman walk onto a bus crying, and another woman came up to her and comforted her. No one asked her to; she just did. Seeing the small, good things in people remind me that the world isn’t all bad.
Tell us about your involvement with Girl Spring and any other local female-driven organizations.
I started working with Girl Spring on a volunteer basis about two years ago. I was a part of their Spring Boarders Program — which is a program where young women can come together and help create events, help build up the website or just have each other to talk to — until I graduated high school and became an intern. Girl Spring is a small nonprofit organization, and because I was able to get to know the executive director, Kristen Greenwood, I knew this organization only had pure intentions. It is very comforting to know I am actually helping others.
What do you love most about Birmingham?
I think Birmingham is beautiful, and I love learning about the unfortunate history that took place here. Walking along the same roads other activists did is so inspiring.
Favorite thing to do on a Saturday night?
I like to play Scrabble with my family.
Favorite local restaurant?
Not local, but I’m vegan so it’s hard to find restaurants. It’s a place called Wahlburgers, and it has a vegan burger that is to-die-for.
Do you have a mentor or role model, and if so, why do you admire them or what have they taught you?
Probably my dad. He’s always believed in me and never asked his children to change in any way. My dad has told me since I was little that I was going to change the world, and I think he’s right.
Finish this sentence: If I could have any superpower, it would be …
To pause time so I can take a nap.
What are you most proud of?
I used to not be able to have a conversation with people of the opposite moral or political views than me. Now, I can.
What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?
Everyone thinks I have no time to sleep or I don’t get enough sleep. But I could sleep at any point in the day, so if I’m up, it’s for good reason.
What is your best piece of advice?
Name three frivolous or light-hearted things you can’t live without.
My cat, sleep, ChapStick
Thank you, Satura! You are such an inspiration. To learn more about Girl Spring, visit girlspring.com.
And thank you to Charity Ponter of Charity Ponter Photography for these lovely photos.
For more inspiring women in Birmingham, check out our FACES archive, and prepare to be amazed!