BIO

Bella BAHHS (Black Ancestors Here Healing Society) is a Chicago-based raptivist and revolutionary, nationally known for making sedition irresistible through her art, activism and advocacy for prison industrial complex abolition.

Born and raised on Chicago’s West Side, BAHHS was thrust into the national spotlight in 2015 when a video of her heartfelt performance at a local march for justice for Laquan McDonald, a teenager killed by Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, went viral.

In 2016, BAHHS co-organized the #LetUsBreathe Collective’s Freedom Square Occupation – a 45-day occupation of a Chicago “secret” police precinct, Homan Square, notorious for kidnapping, torturing and forcing confessions from Black men. Freedom Square became a defacto civic leadership art camp for the North Lawndale community, where BAHHS co-directed daily programming for youth. The summertime occupation was covered by national media outlets, urging the country to critically examine the world we exist in and to radically re/imagine the world we want to create.

Acknowledged for the visionary leadership and energy she brings to the fight for a more just and humane nation, BAHHS joined the Open Society Foundation as a 2017 Soros Justice Fellow. She organized a cohort of arts-activists, the Sister Survivor Network (SSN), to produce accessible events and opportunities to uplift women and girls who survive carceral trauma, while mobilizing support to drastically reduce America’s prisons population.

BAHHS is a founding member of The Decarceration Collective (TDC) and since 2016 has worked closely with Lead Criminal Defense Attorney MiAngel Cody, developing successful freedom campaigns for federal prisoners sentenced to die behind bars for nonviolent drug offenses. TDC recently garnered national attention when Kim Kardashian donated to support the nonprofit’s efforts to disrupt injustice through litigation.

BAHHS is also a founding member and co-chair of the statewide Women’s Justice “Redefining the Narrative” Task Force, a historic convening of more than 250 women leaders from across Illinois united to strategically reduce harm to women and their children before, during and after incarceration while working to drastically cut the women’s prison population by 50% or more over the next seven years.

 

Awards & Fellowships

2017

Soros Justice Fellow

Unapologetic documentary (2020)

Directed by Ashley Oshay and produced by Morgan Johnson unapologeticfilm.com 

The Third Strike documentary (2020)

Directed by Nicole Jones