My parents are Caribbean immigrants that chose Miami-Dade County as their home. My mother lived in Liberty City and my father lived in Miami Gardens, formally Carol City. I attended pre-school and my early years of elementary school in Miami Gardens. It was at Crestview Elementary that I was given the first opportunity to jumpstart my academic career, and eventually my life. My first-grade teacher, Ms. Beverly Gowdish saw my potential and invested in me. She pushed me to be tested for gifted and eventually advanced to another grade level in the middle of the school year. This led to me graduating high school and earing my Associate of Arts degree at 16 years old, and going on to graduate from Florida State University at 19 years’ old
After being away for college and working in Sarasota for a few years, I came back home to South Florida and got engaged in community organizing full-time after Lavall Hall was killed by Miami Gardens Police Department. He was killed not very far from my grandparents’ home and the church that my father pastors. This was my call back to Miami.
Miami is home to so many challenges and so many opportunities. From our diversity to our beaches, to our rampant police violence and swiftly growing gentrification, from the lack of immigration reform to a growing organizing community, we have a duty to be here, in this moment, elevating our communities.
Through my work with SEIU, we are working to join community and labor unions more cohesively. In my work with the Dream Defenders, we are working to delegitimize the “trap” of schools, prisons, and police; systems that adversely affect all black and brown people at some point in their lives, making it difficult or impossible for us to reach our full potential. We have been collaborating with community to advance the living wage, justice against police violence, immigration reform, and many other social injustices.
We do our work through community education, coalition building, political engagement, and direct action. We believe that the people truly have the power when we work in coalition, not the politicians. We are using people power to hold our local politicians accountable and make demands that enhance the quality of life of all marginalized people. We teach resistance to unjust laws and ways to keep each other safe. We educate community members on their rights and equip them to take action at various levels.
“It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love and protect each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.” – Assata Shakur