Ebony UnderwoodFounder and CEO of WE GOT US NOW New York, NY Award Year: 2022
Ebony Underwood is the Founder and CEO of WE GOT US NOW, a national movement built by and for children of incarcerated parents. Their mission is to engage, educate, elevate, and empower a historically invisible population through the use of digital narratives, safe-spaces and advocacy campaigns to ensure their voices are at the forefront of initiatives, practices and policies that will help keep their families connected, make sentencing fair and end mass incarceration. As the daughter of a formerly incarcerated parent, her interest in this advocacy work is personal and pivotal. Traumatized and emotionally devastated by her father’s incarceration, Underwood began to publicly share her story through film, television and social media in 2014, hoping to reach those with a similar story. Underwood has directed and produced the video, Open Plea to the President; created the digital campaign, website and documentary short, Hope for Father’s Day, and has produced three iterations of the GOOGLE digital campaign, #LOVELETTERS to demonstrate the unbreakable bond between an incarcerated parent and their child on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. She was awarded the Soros Justice fellowship and received a Proclamation from the City of New York for her advocacy work highlighting the issue of children with incarcerated parents. She is a member of the Board of Directors at the Sentencing Project. In January 2021, her advocacy efforts for her family paid off, when her father, Bill Underwood, received a compassionate release after 33 years in federal prison. She is featured in three books by award-winning leaders in the movement to end mass incarceration: A Knock at Midnight, Until We Reckon and The Meaning of Life. She has published op-ed articles in USA Today, Huffington Post, The Appeal, Vibe and Mic.