by Lucy Holland
After Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests erupted worldwide in late May 2020 after video of a Minneapolis police officer killing a Black man named George Floyd went viral online, Kiana Simmons, San Jose resident, activist, and founder of HERO Tent, dedicated herself to “fuel(ing) and sustain(ing) human rights activism in San Jose and surrounding Bay Area Cities.”
Simmons attended BLM protests in San Jose almost every day at the beginning of the summer and noticed a common disorganization among the protesters. People would bring water and supplies, but not know what to do with it, so she took it upon herself to bring a table and ask for donations of water bottles and other supplies for protestors. Simmons received massive amounts of donations like masks, hand sanitizer, lunches, and water for the protestors from community members, protestors, and local businesses. As she made more connections with like-minded “strangers at these protests who wanted to help the community,” Simmons formed her non-profit HERO Tent, Human Empowerment (through) Radical Optimism.
HERO Tent is a support organization aimed at providing “sustainability to protests and greater communities in need while fueling civil rights activism.” The organization partners with other grassroots nonprofits in order to serve the San Jose Community through mutual aid.
The group’s largest project is called Feed the Block, a “joint operation between Hero Tent and Black Outreach, another grassroots nonprofit here in San Jose… Every Saturday we go out and feed our unhoused neighbors in Downtown San Jose.” HERO Tent cooks free meals and provides second-hand clothing. Simmons describes Feed the Block as “providing an alternative for people” and her goal is to buy a food truck in the future which carries more supplies and donations.
Simmons is working on creating ways where people in our community can educate themselves and make learning from each other easier. One of her long-term goals is creating a book club where members can read revolutionary mutual aid books and “learn together as a community” because she believes that there “really is a lot of power in community.”
When asked how students at LGHS can help make change, Simmons replied adamantly to, “just do it. Like, even if you think that something is not really a good idea or you’re not too sure about something, just try it. Just try to connect with other people.” She encourages students and community members to reach out to organizations they are interested in and says that “Hero Tent responds all the time, so if you are a student at Los Gatos and you want to get involved, you can message groups… and just say hey I’m interested in learning.” If you are interested in volunteering at Hero Tent or you wish to learn more about the organization, visit https://www.herotent.org/
(Sources: HERO Tent)
Photo courtesy ABC7News