February 18, 2016

Black America: A History of Disenfranchisement

Nicole Pearson is a member of the Madrid Chapter of Democrats Abroad Spain and a panelist for the event, "All Power to All the People: Black Organizing from the Civil Rights Movement to #BlackLivesMatter" this Sunday, February 21 at 5:30 pm. She has been an Activist/Organizer for over 20 years

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I was born in the Bronx but when I was young my family moved to Anchorage, Alaska.  That move made me acutely aware of myself as a Black person. Most importantly, I learned that being Black came with a host of astonishing assumptions and stereotypes. I failed at every turn because I could not fulfill my white and black peers expectation of that blackness. 

As I was struggling with my peers, my parents were fighting the schools to make sure my brother and I were tested for placement in gifted and advanced classes, as well as providing materials on slavery and Black history from their personal library to ensure that everyone understood Black history was more than lazy, ignorant Blacks being freed by a white man only then to have MLK Jr. give us our Civil Rights. From a young age I learned, I had to actively resist these lies about Blackness and Black people.

I went to Howard University to immerse myself in African American history and empower myself to interrupt and correct gross historical inaccuracies wherever I found them.  Post college, I took that knowledge into a social justice context by becoming a community organizer. I developed and implemented action issue campaigns in low-income communities of color in Washington, Oregon, California and Colorado.  Every issue we addressed, from lead poisoning or police accountability, had it's roots in the violent social, political and economic disenfranchisement of Black people. This disenfranchisement is precisely what Black political movements have sought to address.

In our forum, "All Power to All the People: Black Organizing from the Civil Rights Movement to #BlackLivesMatter", we will learn about that history and talk about the urgent changes we need to make. I do hope you come and join us this Sunday.

For more information about this event and to get involved in the conversation, join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

photo credit: Molly Em Ce