Three Philadelphians Using Their Social Media Platforms to Effect Real Change

In a year where social media was more vital than ever, these Philadelphians stood out.

social media influencers

Social media influencers Feminista Jones, Conrad Benner, and Rasheed Ajamu. Photographs courtesy Feminista Jones, Peter Murray, Rasheed Ajamu

This article was published as part of our list of the 76 most influential people in Philadelphia. See the full list here.

In a year featuring a pandemic that forced many of us inside, that saw massive community mobilization around racial justice, and that brings another goddamned presidential election, social media became even more potent. These Philly voices led the way.

Feminista Jones

Twitter: @feministajones | Instagram: @feministajones

WHAT 2020 CHANGED: After Jones became an in-demand speaker on racism, gender equality and mental health, the pandemic precipitated a pivot back online, where she offers “a perspective that is a bit more radical. I’m using social media to make people think deeper and question things.”

IMPACT MOVE: Calling out “performative ‘activism’ and the ‘memefication’ of Breonna Taylor.”

UP NEXT: More episodes of the true-crime podcast Black Girl Missing that she collaborates on; embarking on a Temple PhD.

IRL DIVERSION: Houseplants. “Since the pandemic erupted, I went from about 12 to over 100.”

Conrad Benner

Twitter: @streetsdept | Instagram: @streetsdept

WHAT 2020 CHANGED: For the first 70 days of Philly’s shutdown, Benner, known for chronicling the city’s street art, hosted daily check-in talks with Philadelphians, from doctors to pols to artists.

IMPACT MOVE: His petition against a Starbucks in Dilworth Park didn’t halt the project but did spark vehement debate.

UP NEXT: An in-development monthly series with WHYY on Philly public space.

IRL DIVERSION: “Aimless hours-long walks around the city. Lucky for me, 2020 hasn’t changed that.”

Rasheed Ajamu

Instagram: @phreedomjawn

WHAT 2020 CHANGED: Ajamu says the vast majority (like, 27,000) of his followers have joined since June, when his hard-to-ignore posts on protests, anti-racism, defunding police, and supporting the Black trans and queer communities became must-read content.

IMPACT MOVE: Becoming a point person for direct action on housing-rights-focused encampments in Philly.

UP NEXT: More episodes of the Gworlz Room podcast he co-hosts with his sibling, Erica; Philly Phree Archive, a warehouse of the city’s BIPOC resistance history.

IRL DIVERSION: “Cooking and creating memories with my chosen family.”

Published as “The Social Media Influencers” in “The 76 Most Influential People in Philadelphia” list the November 2020 issue of Philadelphia magazine.