Soteria Shepperson, known as “I AM SOTERIA”, is a first generation college graduate, graduating from George Mason University. She is a woman of color who identifies as Espresso. She finds herself paving lanes in concrete, identifying as an artivist (art + activist), a culture shifter and sustainer. Shepperson anticipated basketball to be her ticket out , but began sustaining physical injuries in high school that ended her career. Poetry became a therapeutic tool that she used to get out of hardships, connecting early on with the legacies of influencers such as Maya Angelou, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nikki Giovanni.
Her work centers purpose, not in what one is able to do, but in who one was born to become. She challenges stereotypes of colorism, sexism, racism, and stigmas of criminality that she witnessed in her life and the through the experiences that have be lived by others, inviting herself and others to be the heroes they’ve been waiting for.
Her recent work encourages courage to move from a place of outraged witnessing to courageous participation in dismantling unjust systems. You can see more about what began this movement around courage here.
She uses spoken word, music and printed work to engage audiences using her platform to elevate marginalized voices and perspectives through her "I AM SOTERIA & Friends" events, also offering artists compensation, resources and coaching services as part of this work.
In addition, she and her partner co-own Present Day on Main which is a local coffee shop in Carrboro, NC that infuses social justice, equity and hope by diversifying their customer base, being intentional about using art to invite community and justice while making sure things like coffee and tea are served. They work to transform narratives renaming the business in January of 2021 to Present Day on Main in hopes we all learn that the past can help us LIVE in the Present. They also created a drink called the " Good Karen" to celebrate the white women who truly believe in equity and justice. This drink was named to also honor their assistant manager's mom, whose name is Karen, for her role in equity and justice.
They were recently awarded by the Orange County Human Relations Commission with the Pauli Murray Award for their business which you can find out more about here.
Soteria is also the Co-Founder of Grow Your World which is a nonprofit organization that operates a youth-driven community engagement and development program. GYW is grounded in the belief that equity and access benefit everyone and create win-win-win dynamics for people, the community, and the planet.
Shepperson has performed internationally, in schools, prisons, at conferences and notably the International Civil Rights Museum, Red Hat Amphitheatre and the 2019 and 2020 Women’s March (Raleigh, NC).
Find out more about her work in Artivism at www.iamsoteria.com.