As Women’s History Month comes to an end, we want to take the time to acknowledge one of the most valuable, dynamic, and dedicated women in Democrats Abroad, Starla (Star) Goggins.
Starla is originally from the state of Michigan and moved to Toronto, Ontario in 1967. Starla has been involved with Democrats Abroad for close to three decades. She first learned of DA in the 1990’s after visiting the DA Toronto Pride Booth, and she immediately signed up after receiving more information.
Starla served in many roles in DA as an expression of her commitment to Get Out the Vote (GOTV) and bringing diverse representation to DA. Specifically, she served on the Toronto Chapter Executive, chaired a National Election Committee (NEC), served on the Democrats Abroad Affirmative Action Committee, managed a DA Voting Centre in Toronto for the 2016 Presidential Primary, organized volunteer teams, and hosted several other events within the sphere of DA.
Recently, Starla joined the DA Global Black Caucus Steering Committee and serves as Secretary. Starla is also currently serving as the chair for the newly forming DA Canada Black Caucus. One of her key goals is to work towards building membership to reflect and represent the DA Canada Black Caucus aims and views.
Starla’s activism and commitment to equity and justice in her community are informed by her experiences of anti-Black racism in the U.S. and Canada. As a teenager in Detroit’s North End, Starla lived in an all-Black working-class area. At that time, it was primarily White people who owned stores, had teaching positions, and worked in business settings. On the contrary, most of the Black people generally had cleaning and factory jobs.
The Civil Rights movement in the South, often led by Martin Luther King Jr., and horrific violence against Black people dominated the news. The Detroit riots also broke out in 1967 burning down much of downtown, the Black community, and costing mostly Black lives. During curfew, the National Guard drove a tank past Starla’s window shooting out streetlights. Starla remembers hiding with her family on the floor to keep them from being hit by stray bullets. Anti-Black racism was very visible.
When Starla moved to Canada, it seemed to be more peaceful and welcoming. She socialized with White people and attended many diverse cultural events, but she soon discovered that anti-Black racism did not end at the border. Starla experienced offensive name-calling, workplace barriers, and a near-miss assault by a large White supremacist protest that she mistook for a parade. Over the years, Starla has continued fighting for an end to anti-Black racism and promoting diversity through education and activism.
As we move into another era of advocacy, Starla offers some wise words for the journey ahead, “As a people, we have fought hard for justice and the right to vote. We need to unite in efforts towards maintaining and improving those rights. Our voice, and our votes have power when we stand together and cast our ballots.” - Starla Goggins