Celebrating Black History Month

Picture of Dr. Rev. Dawn Riley Duval

Black History Month recognizes the sacrifices, contributions, and achievements of African Americans in the United States and around the world. Just as it is important to honor those who came before us, it is just as necessary to acknowledge and spotlight the social justice leaders of today. Voqal is committed to supporting the work and amplifying the voices of African Americans and other advocates of color. During this important month, Voqal will profile a few of the Black leaders and grantee partners that are working for a more equitable and just world. In our first installment in this series, we spotlight Rev. Dr. Dawn Riley Duval.

Rev. Dr. Duval was born and raised in Denver, Colorado by Dr. Debra Mixon Mitchell and Darrell R. Riley. Rev. Dr. Duval is a social justice truth-teller, a community organizer, and a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Denver chapter. Presently, Rev. Dr. Duval is a co-founder and executive director of Soul 2 Soul Sisters, which is a fiercely faith-based, Black Womxn-led, racial justice nonprofit organization focused on Black healing and liberation.

For 13 years, Rev. Dr. Duval served as an ordained Itinerant Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In 2018 she returned her orders and was ordained in the Universal Life Church to ensure that she has the privilege of officiating all sacred ceremonies for all people. A spiritually eclectic minister, Rev. Dr. Dawn honors, studies, and practices Afro-Indigenous rituals. A professionally eclectic leader, she has 15 years of experience as a community organizer and facilitator in the areas of Black voter engagement, eliminating anti-Black racism, and protecting and expanding womxn’s reproductive health and rights.

Rev. Dr. Duval holds a bachelor’s degree in English Rhetoric from the University of Illinois at Urbana, a master’s degree in print journalism from the University of Colorado at Boulder, a master’s degree of divinity from Vanderbilt University, and a doctorate in ministry degree from Chicago Theological Seminary. Her doctorate thesis project is entitled: “Fighting the Good Fight: A Womanist-Based Model of Ally-Ship for Groups of Multi-Racial/Multi-Ethnic Clergywomen Activists.”

She has received awards for her activism from various organizations and academic institutions including the NAACP CO-MT-WY Conference, Colorado Black Women for Political Action, and Vanderbilt Divinity School. Although she has several commendations, Rev. Dr. Duval’s greatest honor is mothering her son and daughter, who are 14 and 12, using revolutionary parenting approaches that are loving, challenging, fun, and experimental.

We are honored to work with amazing leaders like Rev. Dr. Duval and look forward to her continued work to create a more equitable world through her efforts in the Denver community. For more information about Soul 2 Soul Sisters, visit its website at soul2soulsisters.org.