Trigger warning: This article discusses sexual assault and murder.
Oluwatoyin “Toyin” Salau, a 19-year-old Black woman and avid Black Lives Matter activist, was found dead in Tallahassee one week after she went missing. Since reports of Salau’s death came out, people have been highlighting the work she did as a young activist to fight for others’ lives, arguing that the world failed to protect her in return.
Tallahassee police found Salau’s body along with 75-year-old longtime AARP volunteer Victoria Sims on Saturday. Both their deaths are being investigated as homicides. On Monday, North Florida and South Georgia news station WCTV reported that Tallahassee police had arrested a suspect for the double murder, 49-year-old Aaron Glee Jr.
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A post shared by FL Content Creator (@jaehouse) on Jul 31, 2019 at 10:30am PDT
A video has been circulating on social media showing Salau speaking at a recent Black Lives Matter protest, pushing for visibility for Tony McDade, a Black trans man who was killed by Tallahassee police. In the video, she also spoke about being profiled daily saying, “I cannot take my fucking skin color off. I cannot mask this shit.”
RIP to 19 year old activist Oluwatoyin “Toyin” Salau. 🙏🏾
She was found dead after detailing a sexual assault and being heavily active in protests in Florida. #JusticeforToyin pic.twitter.com/gxuEe4Ybwz
— 247 Live Culture (@247LC) June 15, 2020
Senior Beauty Editor at InStyle, Kayla Greaves, tweeted for justice for Salau writing, “Black women show up for everyone. But who is really out here protecting Black women?”
Black women show up for everyone. But who is really out here protecting Black women? #JusticeForToyin
— Kayla A. Greaves 💁🏽♀️ (@KaylaAGreaves) June 15, 2020
Gabrielle Union put out a similar message in an Instagram post tribute to Salau. “Who cares for little Black girls, Black teens, Black women? Toyin deserved so much more,” she wrote.” She also identified with Salau as a Black woman who was also assaulted at a young age. “I am her and she is me,” she wrote. “I am alive to talk about surviving my rape at 19. She is not.”
She was 19. 19. 19. A baby. Oluwatoyin "Toyin" Salau was a 19 year old warrior who fought for US. She reported her sexual assault to police and days later was found murdered. The horrors she faced, the trauma she endured, all by 19 years old. Who cares for little Black girls, Black teens, Black women? Toyin deserved so much more. She fought for so much more for all of us. I can't shake it. I am her and she is me. I am alive to talk about surviving my rape at 19. She is not.. The work continues. The fight continues. The reckoning will continue. Toyin should be here. She was 19. A baby. Hold our babies tight. Love them. Protect them. Support them. 19. #BlackLivesMatter #AllBlackLivesMatter #JusticeForToyin
A post shared by Gabrielle Union-Wade (@gabunion) on Jun 15, 2020 at 11:49am PDT
Others focused on Salau’s final tweets, pointing to the fact that her plea for help wasn’t met. She was last seen on June 6th, CNN reports, and went missing after tweeting about being sexually assaulted earlier that morning. Salau, who was home insecure at the time, explained what happened to her in a thread of tweets, writing “I was molested in Tallahassee, Florida by a black man this morning at 5:30 on Richview and Park Ave.” She explained that the man had offered her a ride to find someplace to sleep and to collect her belongings from a church where she had sought refuge days before.
“THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DON’T LISTEN TO BLACK WOMEN,” one Twitter user wrote.
WE DEMAND #JUSTICEFORTOYIN. SHE WAS 19 YEARS OLD. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DON’T LISTEN TO BLACK WOMEN. SHE ASKED FOR HELP. SHE TWEETED ABOUT HER ABUSER. SHE WAS A TEENAGE GIRL. A DAUGHTER. say her name. don’t let her story be forgotten. pic.twitter.com/XDbUd2Zsgz
— 1312 (@kimiamp3) June 15, 2020
Some are also pointing to colorism, making sure to bring attention to the fact that Salau was a dark-skinned Black woman and didn’t experience the privilege that comes with lighter skin.
Amandla Stenberg shared a text post with words from video artist Alima Lee that reads, “When will you start caring about Black femmes beyond sexual consumption? Are you ready to admit your colorism against dark-skinned femmes is costing their lives?” She also shared information about The Loveland Foundation, which provides financial assistance to Black women and girls who are seeking therapy. “I keep having to remind myself to take a deep breath to help release the knot in my gut. Therapy helps a lot,” she wrote.
Thank you for stating this with such clarity @alima_lee 🤍 I wish I could wrap every black girl who feels sick to their stomach with love. I hope you can rest today and be gentle to yourself. I keep having to remind myself to take a deep breath to help release the knot in my gut. Therapy helps a lot. For anyone who may be in need, @thelovelandfoundation provides financial assistance to black women and girls who are seeking therapy- link is in my highlights underneath “Therapy”. Oh and white pipo! You should click on that link too and head over to the Donate section- right about now would be a good time to redistribute those coins and invest in the mental health of black women by contributing to the fund. That’s def what I’m gonna be doing today.
A post shared by amandla (@amandlastenberg) on Jun 15, 2020 at 5:39pm PDT
A Change.org petition was created to “bring attention to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Tallahassee police department to do their job, and investigate this crime,” which has happened now—but that doesn’t mean the fight is over. A Black feminist and womanist organization, Sistah Circle Collective, tweeted to urge followers not to donate to a GoFundMe set up by Salau’s family, writing that she was allegedly being abused and had run away.
On Monday, the organization Justice For Black Girls created the Oluwatoyin Salau Freedom Fighters Fund in hopes of raising $2500 to give $250 grants to Black girl activists, like Salau, who seek housing, food, or other critical resources. As of Tuesday afternoon, the fund far exceeded its goal reaching $50,000 and the organization is no longer accepting donations, however it will be releasing applications for those in need of the grants Tuesday night. Follow the Instagram here for updates.
WE HAVE REACHED OVER 50K!!!! Additional funds will be used to support JBG initiatives demanding the full protection of Black girls and sustain the freedom fund. WE DID THIS!!!! TOYIN WILL NEVER BE SILENCED. BLACK GIRL ACTIVISTS EVERYWHERE WILL FOREVER BE IMPACTED BY HER LEGACY. ✊🏾🖤 • • • THE FREEDOM FUND APPLICATIONS WILL RELEASE TONIGHT!!! We will also launch our extensive layout on how we’ll distribute funds! We’re sooo excited to reach Black girls everywhere!!! Please tag a Black girl who needs this!!✊🏾🖤
A post shared by Justice for Black Girls (@justice4blackgirls) on Jun 16, 2020 at 9:36am PDT
We’ll update this post as there’s more development on Oluwatoyin Salau’s story, and, no matter what, keep saying her name.
If you are a sexual assault survivor and need help, you can call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to speak to a trained counselor. You can also chat online with a counselor here. Both services are available 24/7.