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Javier Muñoz

Combating Educational Inequality through Higher Education

To Javier Muñoz, Humanity in Action represents the opportunity to build community with a vastly diverse group of people spanning continents and generations who all hold an undying commitment to principles of equality, democracy and social justice. By participating in the Humanity in Action Fellowship, Javier hoped to gain insights into different approaches to solutions and ways to advocate for his community.

“As the son of working-class Mexican immigrants, I understood many of the struggles faced by minority communities in the United States and realized institutional change would not be possible without solidarity.”

It was not just his desire to support those in his community that led him down this path, but also his own experiences with violence and discrimination: almost being stabbed by a known gang member while walking home from J. A. Garfield high school or being forced to sit on his hands by police officers after playing basketball at the local public park. These experiences helped lay the foundation for Javier’s desire to build a more just world where youth everywhere do not have to face the same obstacles he did.

As a PhD Candidate at UCLA and an aspiring History professor, Javier hopes to “unearth knowledge useful to activists” and “provide [them] with access to university resources that can be redistributed to those in surrounding communities who need it the most.”

Drawing upon his own background, Javier focused on educational inequality for his Action Project. Education opened his eyes to different ways of imagining the world and, through a college access program, he developed in 2015 as a part of his Action Project, helped him share his knowledge with Latinx high school students in the East Los Angeles area. The college access program remains active today and helps students realize their educational potential.

Javier continues to draw inspiration from those who participate in the program. In late 2017, a student from his first cohort informed him that she had just been admitted to Dartmouth College by early-decision. His program was her first introduction to anything college-related. It is stories like these that inspire Javier to continue moving forward.

According to Javier, “My participation in the Humanity in Action Fellowship taught me that radical education is a form of action because it can, as Tupac Shakur said, ‘spark the brain that will change the world’.

“My lived experiences, along with the knowledge I gained as a student, compelled me to leverage my status as a graduate student to divert university resources to materially change the lives of underrepresented Latinx students.”

He hopes to encourage others to participate in Humanity in Action, citing the program’s strength in priming young people for action. Since Javier’s Fellowship, he has participated in the 2017 Humanity in Action Senior Fellow Forum in Berlin and learned about the obstacles facing refugees seeking asylum in the European Union.