Shevann Steuben: An advocate for justice in every form
Updated: Mar 14, 2021
Shevann Steuben currently serves as the Texas NAACP Youth and College Division President, having been elected in the fall of 2019. In her position in the Youth and College Division, she and her executive committee focus on setting goals that can impact community issues in a multitude of ways, focusing on issues ranging from voter registration to criminal justice reform.
Shevann Steuben has always been involved in working to improve the lives of her community. Growing up in San Francisco, she was aware of politics in a general sense, but it wasn’t until she was attending a seemingly diverse high school where Steuben became involved in one of her first major political issues, inclusivity and diversity space in the high school. She realized that while her private school could say a lot on paper about their commitment to inclusivity, it was up to students to keep them accountable.
During her time at Baylor, Steuben became aware of how the affluence of many of her peers affected the campus culture. She sought to change campus culture and focused on issues that mattered, doing so by joining the Baylor chapter of the NAACP. When she attended her first meeting of the Baylor NAACP, she listened to the chapter president speak about the organization and remembered thinking, “I’m going to be the president of the Baylor NAACP one day”. Her goal was to be elected president of the chapter for her senior year. During the interim, she became very active with the chapter her first year, becoming the Political Action Chair for her sophomore year. During her time in this role, Steuben was not sure if she was doing everything right. She recalls that she embodied a, “Fake it till you make in mentality” during this time, in terms of planning events. Make it she did. Towards the end of her sophomore year, she planned her first big solo event for Baylor’s chapter, a Police Brutality Live Museum. The event was a success, and due to this and her hard work put into the organization during her first two years at Baylor, she was asked to run for chapter president for her junior year. She ran and won, serving as president for her junior and senior year, fulfilling her goal spoken at her very first meeting.
Steuben was not afraid to make waves and ask the hard questions during her efforts to change campus culture at Baylor. During our interview, she recalled a time in which she was at a dinner with the Baylor Board of Regents. She was sitting at a table with the Chief of Staff to Baylor’s president among other regents. During this dinner, she took advantage of the fact that she was sitting next to some of Baylor’s top decision makers and asked, “Why must Baylor students identify as Christian to be line camp leaders and student leaders?”. She remembers that after she said this, the entire table shut down. Yet, Steuben was not afraid to ask these difficult questions, questions designed to make change on Baylor’s campus, to make it a more inclusive campus for students who did not identify as Christian. As a student, Steuben said she was going to use the information provided to her by her education in order to keep those in leadership positions accountable to staying true to their core values.
Steuben’s time serving as the Baylor NAACP president led to her involvement with the Texas State Conference of the NAACP. Her success in leading Baylor’s chapter made her realize she could put this same effort into working at the state level, and in the fall of 2018, she was appointed treasurer of the Texas NAACP Youth and College Division, in addition to her role as Baylor’s chapter president. In this role, she was given a wider audience and continued to advocate for political issues with the same intensity. After a year of serving as treasurer, she ran for president of the Texas NAACP Youth and College Division and was elected in the Fall of 2019. She will stand for reelection in the Fall of 2021.
When asked what she believed to be the biggest issues facing her community right now, Steuben mentioned Covid-19, redistricting, criminal justice reform, and voting rights. Voting rights is a specific issue that hits close to home for Steuben, due to her upbringing in San Francisco, a state in which voter registration and the actual process of voting is incredibly streamlined. She wants Texas to realize that it doesn’t have to be so difficult to vote. With all of these issues, Steuben’s main focus has been on focusing on how they impact minority communities. COVID-19 is an issue that is impacting people of color at a higher rate, and Steuben wants to see that reflected in how vaccines and other COVID treatment is implemented.
When it comes to engaging in advocacy, Steuben said that she, “doesn’t care what your action is, as long as it is comprehensive”, and this can be reflected in the amazing work she does for her community. In her efforts, not only does she touch on every issue impacting people around her, but she carries them out in different ways, whether it be through educational events or demonstrations, or advocating for voter reform. In this way, she is a true advocate for justice.