Amber Evans Continues to Inspire

Remembering an inspirational activist

Donna Marbury
In this September 2016 file photo, Amber Evans, lead organizer for the People's Justice Project, waits to speak during a rally in response to the fatal police shooting of 13-year-old Tyre King.

Raw. Joyful. Selfless. Powerful. 

Those are some of the words that loved ones use to describe Amber Evans, a Columbus activist with a rising voice who died in 2019 at the age of 28. Her short time as a community activist in Columbus was potent. Two years later, her friends and community allies say her dedication and passion laid the foundation for the social justice work being done today. 

Tammy Fournier-Alsaada, lead organizer of the People’s Justice Project, says Evans volunteered at the organization from the beginning—and quickly emerged as a force for change. She did everything from helping with office work to bringing in lunch and running errands. Prior to her death by suicide, which drew attention to the mental health toll of activism, Evans was considering an executive-level role with the Juvenile Justice Coalition, PJP’s sister organization. “There’s a void missing that we still seek to fill,” Fournier-Alsaada says. “There will never ever be another Amber Evans.” 

Evans was a graduate of Ohio State University, majoring in journalism. A lover of literature, she also received a master’s degree in library science from Kent State University and worked part time at Columbus libraries. “Not only was Amber my comrade, but she was also my friend. All of the pictures of the organization from the very beginning, all you see is the three of us,” says Aramis Malachi-Ture Sundiata, executive director of PJP, referring to himself, Fournier-Alsaada and Evans. 

LC Johnson, CEO of Zora’s House, says that she originally looked at her building as a coworking business, but Evans was the first person to see it as a sacred space for Black women. “Amber walked in the door one day and said, ‘This place is sanctuary,’ ” Johnson says. “Amber had a way of doing that—seeing to the heart of something and putting it into words.”