I met up with a fellow Rising Star yesterday (just so you know I’m not being pretentious, Rising Stars is the name of the leadership program we’re in that trains professionals to serve as equity leaders on nonprofit and arts boards…so if you’re in the program you’re called a Rising Star) to catch up and chat about our backgrounds, what’s going on in our careers, and what happened to me over the course of last week. After I gave her the rundown, she suggested I blog about it. So I thought it might be cool to recap last Tuesday’s series of events, which will also give a glimpse of some of the racial justice work I do. Before I go into all of that, special shout out and THANK YOU to my stepmom who so graciously and tremendously helps take care of my daughter so I can pull off these ridiculously long days.
Last Tuesday (March 21) was the YWCA’s annual Racial Justice Breakfast. Each year we bring in someone from the legal community to foster meaningful dialogue about racism’s personal and community-wide effects. The speakers talk about issues they’ve faced and alternative ways to address those issues. Our speaker this year was Adam Foss, former Assistant District Attorney in the Juvenile Division of Suffolk County (in Massachusetts), who talked about restorative justice and having compassion in criminal justice. The event sells out each year and on the day of folks start filling seats even before the sun rises. So it’s good stuff– but it’s an early day. This year my role was walking up on half-awake people, with my selfie-sticked, cellphone-attached self, asking them if they were excited to be there and what they were looking forward to hearing before (and afterward what they liked most). Only three people ran away from me ha! Click here to watch one of those videos.
Immediately following the breakfast, I had to make my way uptown to the Martin Luther King Coalition meeting. The MLK Coalition meets monthly throughout the year to plan and coordinate activities for MLK day. The events focus on King’s message, how others have carried on in his footsteps, and how best to carry his dream forward. The coalition is comprised of community members and representatives from various local organizations. During this last meeting, I unintentionally volunteered (Or was volunTOLD ha!) to be one of two people on the speakers committee. So I’ll be a part of finding a speaker for next year’s MLK event. If you have any suggestions for dynamic speakers, please leave a comment below. Thanks!
Something I think that’s really cool is one of the coalition members is Frances Canty, one of the original Freedom Riders. Frances is very kind and humble and she’s the second from the left in the image below.
Everyone else pictured is awesome, too. They are also coalition members. Except for the lady to my left. That’s my mom. She joined me that day to help us set up for this year’s MLK Legacy breakfast.
To end the day, I helped with set up for a series the YWCA has been a part of the last year: Rethinking Racism, which is a multicultural dialogue community working towards an antiracist society. This particular event focused on race and racism in Cincinnati. Part of the program featured a biracial woman who framed her story by saying she has the DNA of the oppressed and the oppressor within her– she is a descendant of both slaves and slave owners. She shared her story about what it was like growing up without a lot of money, but in a wealthy predominantly white neighborhood. Her story was very moving.
All of my work days don’t last from 4:30 am until 8:30 pm, but when they do– if they’re like last Tuesday’s– they’re pretty cool.