2020 Senior Spotlight: Honors graduate starts educational non-profit aimed at combatting systemic oppression
May 6, 2020
Honors graduate Ali Carter knows the power of education – he’s experienced it firsthand.
He grew up in Oklahoma City, where he remembers watching athletes play football through the fence on the fields of an elite college preparatory school, Heritage Hall, until police shooed him away.
Carter eventually attended Heritage Hall, where he was able to obtain an education that most of his peers did not. “That level of education allowed [me] to transcend [my] circumstance. If I hadn’t gone to Heritage Hall, I probably would not have gone to college,” he reflected.
His experience and opportunities at Heritage Hall, and later, at TCU, inspired Carter and a group of friends to start a non-profit organization, Foundation for Liberating Minds (FLM), to combat racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, and other systems of oppression. According to its mission statement, FLM is dedicated to “enabling minds to promote open-mindedness without the exclusion rendered by our society.”
“We’re all products of the society we live in,” Carter explained. “The purpose of this organization is to ensure that marginalized children have the opportunity to receive a world-class education.”He credits Honors Lecturer, Lynn Hampton’s, mentorship for changing his trajectory and admits that her teachings have inspired aspects of FLM. “After freshman year, I considered dropping out. If I hadn’t taken [Dr. Hampton’s] “Engaging Differences & Diversity” course and became her mentee, I wouldn’t have applied for the Supreme Court internship, graduated from TCU or even thought about law school,” he said.
Carter has big dreams for the organization, but his first goal is to establish a K-12 public-charter school in midtown Oklahoma City by 2030, and he’s already well on his way. In addition to Carter’s development of an established, outlined curriculum, FLM is in talks to acquire land in Oklahoma City and is working with architects and planners to draft plans for a school.
Long term, he hopes the organization can expand to include multiple schools across the nation as well as a law firm focused on public interest and civil rights law. As he prepares for law school and reflects on his journey to date, including his internship at the Supreme Court last fall, he aspires to change the fabric of society by changing the laws and policies that contribute to structural oppression. “Every time I can take a step forward in life, I want to make sure I can bring others ‘to the mountaintop,’ and I will do so by any means necessary” he said, quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.
Carter is committed to his lofty dreams but is also realistic, knowing that change can be slow-moving. “Honestly, we know that we’re probably never going to see the fruits of our labor – we’re probably not even going to scratch the surface,” Carter admits. “But at least we’ll light the fire.”