‘Your voice is powerful’: local leader advocates for change and equity

February 9, 2023 /

Editor’s Note: To celebrate Black History Month, Kern Sol News is highlighting notable Black leaders in Kern County who are working to create positive change in their community.

Kern County native and long-time advocate and activist Ucedrah Osby has been using her voice to fight for Kern County’s most vulnerable and marginalized communities in order to create, nurture, and sustain equity for them.

Osby is the Executive Director of Community Interventions and explained that the organization focuses on confronting social justice issues of mass incarceration, health, racial, economic, education, and housing inequities by uplifting the voices of impacted communities.

“I was doing criminal justice reform and I realized that we needed to bring it full circle. We needed to look at social justice with a full circle lens because it’s more than mass incarceration,” Osby stated. “It’s the whole person and it’s the whole family.”

Osby revealed that she had to learn how to navigate Kern County as a Black woman; that navigation came in the form of becoming an advocate for herself so that she could be an activist for others and learn how to use her voice to speak up against injustices and inequities.

“There’s no training or education on how to fight for our rights or on political education and so it’s been a struggle,” Osby commented. “It’s unfortunate that we have to learn as we go — otherwise, we won’t be seen and we won’t have our needs met.”

Osby hopes to inspire her community through her actions. She wants them to see that using their voices and showing up for civic engagement does work.

“Not just my voice, and not just my team’s voice. Their voices are powerful as well,” Osby commented.

In addition to being the Executive Director of Community Interventions, Osby is also the President of the Bakersfield chapter of All of Us or None (AOUON) where she acts as a catalyst for leadership development for Kern County’s most vulnerable populations of formerly incarcerated and system-impacted people and their families.

“I’m a Bakersfield native and fully aware of the issues that plague the most vulnerable populations,” Osby stated. “While attending an event at Loyola Marymount, I discovered every metropolitan area had an organization working toward restoring the human and civil rights of those impacted by incarceration. Kern County deserves to have one too, hence the need to start All of Us or None Bakersfield Chapter along with 10 other people.”

Through her work and partnerships in the community, Osby has helped secure around $1 million for the community along with other resources that have helped Kern County’s most marginalized communities. With the help of these resources, Osby remarked that they have been able to become trusted messengers in these communities.

“Being a trusted messenger means that the community believes the information that you’re bringing to them. They trust that you’re sharing their experiences with leadership in order to provide the appropriate resources,” stated Osby. “And in the last four years, we’ve been able to show our love and action and bring them the resources they need.”

Osby is utilizing Black History Month as another opportunity to share Black excellence and uplift her communities. She also stated that this is a time when the community can try to heal from historical traumas. She continued by revealing that Black-led organizations are lacking in local philanthropy.

“Kern County has very little philanthropy for Black-led organizations and this creates an inequity because it means that people are ignoring our needs. We shouldn’t have to go outside of Kern County to bring in resources for people who live inside the county,” Osby commented.

She continued by stating that this means that discussions need to be had with the City Council, the Board of Supervisors, and other leaders to make sure that they’re working to increase equitable processes for Black people to receive the same as everyone else.

“I am hopeful due to being able to walk in the footprints of my elders. Kern County is a half-century behind and using the best practices of my elders will be helpful in creating systems change,” Osby concluded.

Outside of work, Osby enjoys attending concerts and listening to live music. She has also spent 15 years as an Addiction Specialist, which has shown her that resting the entire person and the entire family is what’s needed.

“Supporting one part of a person’s life isn’t sufficient or helpful to increasing the quality of life,” Osby noted.


Victoria Rodgers

Victoria Rodgers is an editor and reporter for Kern Sol News. Born in Bakersfield, CA, she received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Rockford University in Illinois. She can be reached at victoria@southkernsol.org.