Amir J. Barksdale | (he/him/his)
Community Liason | Melanin Unchained President
Amir is a community organizer passionate about entrepreneurship and financial literacy. Amir moved to Newburgh at the age of 5, where he attended the Newburgh Enlarged City School District. Amir’s dream is to attend Howard University, a historically Black college (HBCU) in Washington, D.C., but like many Black students, Amir's white guidance counselor didn't provide him the guidance necessary in high school to make that a reality. Amir teaches financial literacy and believes that anyone can implement it no matter their financial situation. He attributes his success to his mother as the foundation of his knowledge of finances. Amir has said, “My mother saved so I can invest.” Amir believes learning financial literacy to save is the first step before learning about investing. These teachings have made him into an entrepreneur. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Amir became the owner of a vending machine business. Being a Black business owner he lives by the motto “support Black business” and makes an effort to support all-Black businesses whenever he can. In 2020, Amir has risen as a young leader becoming the president of a local nonprofit based in Newburgh called Melanin Unchained, which is built on the four principles of financial literacy, civic engagement, environmental justice, and education reform. Melanin Unchained has organized several decolonization education protests, equity seminars, street cleanups, and clothing drives. During the first Melanin Unchained seminar Amir coined the saying “equality without equity don’t mean shit” which highlights the difficulties Black businesses face trying to secure funding. Outside of community work, Amir always keeps a smile on his face and will make sure you have one on yours as well. When you're around Amir there is never a shortage of jokes.