William “Christianiare” Calloway, 26, Chicago
Just under a year ago, William Calloway filed an exceedly simple request for government information and now Chicago will never be the same. He is one of the two men directly responsible for the release of the dash cam video that showed the Chicago police shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.
The tape, which took the nation by storm this past fall, showed one officer pumping 16 bullets into the body of a Black teen. Calloway, a longtime youth activist, paired with independent journalist Brandon Smith to submit a Freedom of Information Act request that - shockingly - was upheld by a judge.
Calloway’s win was the tip of the police shooting iceberg and has led to non stop protests, new lawsuits, police officer firings, the release of several additional police shooting videos and the resignations of several of the Chi’s top brass. Not bad for a self-proclaimed “wild” kid from the city’s Southeast side, also known as “Terror Town” because of the violence.
Next up? He’s trying to raise money to build a community center in his neighborhood and looks forward to the day when families no longer seek him out for help when their children are killed by police.
FAVORITE SONG Anita Baker’s “Body and Soul.” I was just listening to this when you hit me up! That and Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature.”
WHAT DO YOU READ DAILY? My Bible, The Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune. And, I’m just now getting into the New York Times.
WHAT DOES BLACK EXCELLENCE LOOK LIKE TO YOU? To lead fearlessly and to be unapologetic about it. To be the leader and never follow anybody.