What fired me up as a young teen growing up in the South was imagining what could change despite injustices that seemed impossible to turn around. I reached out to connect with people who were unapologetically radical, folks working toward a world of Black liberation and women’s liberation. As a result, I found myself reading long handwritten letters sent from prisoners who were being abused by incarceration practices, including medical and psychological experiments. I campaigned for Shirley Chisolm with wild hopes (in the 1970s when electoral politics seemed to be a shining way forward) of electing the first Black woman President of the U.S. These were lasting inspirations for analysis and action to spark systems change. At the same time, noticing how people were locked out of voter registration and the voting process, I spoke up about it in the local newspaper. Something had to be done, and I had to be part of the solution.
Since that time, I’ve become ever more deeply committed to building relationships and building power so that all people can thrive.