Nikkita Oliver

Nikkita R. Oliver is an American lawyer, non-profit administrator, educator, poet, and politician. Oliver was a candidate for Mayor of Seattle in the 2017 mayoral election, but finished third in the primary with 17% of the vote. Oliver was defeated again in an at-large Seattle city council race in 2021.

Nikkita Oliver
Nikkita Oliver 03 (cropped).jpg
Oliver in 2018
Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.
  • Lawyer
  • activist
  • educator
  • poet

Oliver was a leader in the Black Lives Matter, civil rights, and criminal justice reform movements in Seattle,[1][2][3][4][5] before relocating to Detroit in 2022.[6]

Early life and educationEdit

Oliver was born in Indianapolis to a white mother and black father.[7]

Oliver attended Seattle Pacific University and earned a degree in sociology in 2008.[8] At Seattle Pacific, Oliver became involved with student government and led a racial justice campaign called "Catalyst". Oliver also became involved with the local Black Lives Matter organization. Oliver earned a Juris Doctor from the University of Washington School of Law in 2015 and Master of Education from the University of Washington College of Education in 2016.[citation needed]


Oliver worked for the American Civil Liberties Union, as an intervention specialist, and as a chaplain at the Youth Detention Center.[specify][9] In 2015, Oliver was awarded the Artist Human Rights Leader Award by the City of Seattle's Human Rights Commission.[10]

2017 mayoral campaignEdit

External video
  Seattle’s Next Mayor? Activist, Attorney Nikkita Oliver, PBS, April 4, 2017 retrieved June 28, 2020
Oliver speaking during their 2017 mayoral campaign

Oliver declared their candidacy for mayor of Seattle in March 2017, expecting to run against incumbent mayor Ed Murray, though he resigned due to multiple allegations of sexual assault before the election. Oliver announced they would be representing the "Peoples Party of Seattle", a collection of community and civic leaders, lawyers, artists, activists and teachers that began organizing after the 2016 presidential election.[11] At the time, Oliver was a part-time teacher at Washington Middle School and Franklin Middle School and provided mostly pro-bono services as an attorney. Oliver also worked for Creative Justice, an arts-based alternative to incarceration.[11] Oliver's campaign focused on a "radical rethinking of criminal justice investments, revisiting the city’s housing proposals to extract more from developers for affordable housing; slowing gentrification, and examining an even higher minimum wage than the recent landmark achievement of $15 an hour."[11] Oliver also brought attention to issues like homelessness, institutional racism, and poverty.[12]

Criminal justice reform effortsEdit

Oliver has worked as an organizer for Seattle’s No Youth Jail and Black Lives Matter movements.[1][2] They work as co-director of Creative Justice Northwest, a nonprofit organization that offers programs to youth most impacted by the school-to-prison pipeline.[3] Following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Oliver helped organize and spoke at numerous protests in Seattle.[4][5] During a closed-door meeting with Mayor Jenny Durkan, Police Chief Carmen Best, and other community leaders, Oliver live-streamed the discussion.[13] Oliver has been an advocate for de-funding the police and civic investment in community-based public health and public safety strategies.[14][15][16]

Oliver has also spoken about outside spending on local political campaigns.[17] In 2017, Oliver was named one of Seattle's Most Influential Seattlelites by Seattle Magazine.[18] Oliver co-drafted a resolution for Seattle’s divestment from the Dakota Access Pipeline in 2017.[19]

In January 2020, Oliver was featured as the keynote speaker for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration at Edmonds Community College.[20] They have been featured as a guest lecturer and speaker at the University of Michigan,[21] Reed College,[22] the Stanley Ann Dunham Scholarship Fund,[23] KTCS 9,[24] Pod Save the People,[25] and Town Hall Seattle.[26][27]

2021 City Council campaignEdit

In March 2021 Oliver declared their candidacy for Seattle City Council position 9,[28] but was defeated.[29]

Detroit Justice CenterEdit

In July 2022, the Detroit Justice Center announced that Oliver had joined the organization as an Associate Executive Director of Programs & Strategy, and would be relocating to Detroit.

Personal lifeEdit

Oliver identifies as queer and uses they/them pronouns.[28][30] They are genderfluid.[31]

Further readingEdit

  • LaVine, Matt (2020), Race, Gender, and the History of Early Analytic Philosophy, Rowman & Littlefield, ISBN 1498595561
  • Delpit, Lisa (2019), Teaching When the World Is on Fire, ISBN 9781620974322
  • The Routledge History of World Peace Since 1750, Taylor & Francis, ISBN 9781351653343


  1. ^ a b "Candidate Profile: Nikkita Oliver". Seattle Met. July 24, 2017. Retrieved June 28, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Race, Justice & Democracy: Where do we stand?". Seattle Channel. Retrieved June 28, 2020.
  3. ^ a b Cain, Sheila (September 3, 2018). "The healing spaces of Creative Justice". CrossCut. Retrieved June 28, 2020.
  4. ^ a b Uitti, Jacob. ""Building People Power": Nikkita Oliver on Seattle's Extraordinary Protests and What Comes Next". Vanity Fair. Retrieved June 28, 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Nikkita Oliver on Letting the Vision Lead the Movement". NPR. June 18, 2020. Retrieved June 28, 2020.
  6. ^ "DJC Welcomes New Associate Executive Director of Programs & Strategy nikkita oliver" (Press release). Detroit Justice Center. July 28, 2022. Retrieved September 15, 2022.
  7. ^ "In high-profile Seattle City Council race, Nikkita Oliver and Sara Nelson call for different kinds of change". October 18, 2021.
  8. ^ "Nikkita Oliver". Seattle Pacific University. December 16, 2016. Retrieved June 28, 2020.
  9. ^ "Nikkita Oliver: An Activism-Based Approach to Law". ACLU of Washington. July 29, 2014. Retrieved June 28, 2020.
  10. ^ "Congratulations to 2015 Human Rights Awardees!". City of Seattle. Retrieved June 28, 2020.
  11. ^ a b c Kroman, David (March 7, 2017). "Activist, attorney Nikkita Oliver is running for mayor". CrossCut. Retrieved June 28, 2020.
  12. ^ McCarthy, Joe (September 1, 2017). "Nikkita Oliver Ran for Mayor of Seattle and Is Fighting for Marginalized Voices". Global Citizen. Retrieved June 28, 2020.
  13. ^ "In Seattle, the revolution will be live-streamed". KUOW. June 9, 2020. Retrieved June 28, 2020.
  14. ^ Alicea, Simone (June 23, 2020). "Nikkita Oliver talks about defunding Seattle police". KNKX. Retrieved June 28, 2020.
  15. ^ "Seattle-area protests: March during sixth day of action after George Floyd's killing draws massive crowd around City Hall". The Seattle Times. June 3, 2020. Retrieved June 28, 2020.
  16. ^ Scigliano, Eric (June 15, 2020). "Don't Listen to Fox. Here's What's Really Going On in Seattle's Protest Zone". Politico. Retrieved June 28, 2020.
  17. ^ "Nikkita Oliver: Outside spending to defeat Kshama Sawant means progressive message resonates". KUOW. August 8, 2019. Retrieved June 28, 2020.
  18. ^ "Most Influential Seattleites of 2017: Nikkita Oliver, Dominique Davis and Anne Levinson". Seattle Magazine. November 2017. Retrieved June 28, 2020.
  19. ^ "Pipeline activists: Severing ties with Wells Fargo now more important than ever". The Seattle Times. February 7, 2017. Retrieved June 28, 2020.
  20. ^ "MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. CELEBRATION TO FEATURE KEYNOTE NIKKITA OLIVER". Edmonds Community College. January 10, 2020. Retrieved June 28, 2020.
  21. ^ "School of Social Work Guest Lecture by Nikkita Oliver". University of Michigan. Retrieved June 28, 2020.
  22. ^ "Black Celebration Month: Nikkita Oliver". Reed College. Retrieved June 28, 2020.
  23. ^ "2017 Awards Ceremony". Stanley Ann Dunham Fund. Retrieved June 28, 2020.
  24. ^ Gerdes, Caroline. "Celebrate 100 Years of Trailblazing Women with KCTS 9". KTCS 9.
  25. ^ "A Box Won't Fix Racism". Pod Save the People. Retrieved June 28, 2020.
  26. ^ "Race, Justice, and Democracy Where Do We Stand?". Town Hall Seattle. March 22, 2016. Retrieved June 28, 2020.
  27. ^ "Violence, Incarceration, and a Road to Repair". Town Hall Seattle. Retrieved June 28, 2020.
  28. ^ a b Gutman, David. "Lawyer, community organizer Nikkita Oliver announces bid for Seattle City Council". The Seattle Times.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  29. ^ "City elections in Seattle, Washington (2021)". Ballotpedia. Retrieved August 1, 2022.
  30. ^ Hsieh, Steven. "The Independent: Is Seattle Ready for Nikkita Oliver?". The Stranger. Retrieved March 10, 2021.
  31. ^ @NikkitaOliver (November 8, 2020). "As a Black gender fluid femme abolitionist I can applaud a Black womxn 4 achieving her dream while also saying that…" (Tweet) – via Twitter.

External linksEdit