Firstly, I want to say “Thank You”. Thank you to our vast, loving community in North Carolina and across this country for allowing Ignite NC to bloom where we are today. A fellowship program starting in 2013, providing a space for college students to combat voter suppression and educate their peers on new voter laws, has now grown into a leadership development fellowship organization. An organization that has trained over 250 young people, mostly Black, mostly queer/trans, on direct action, facilitation, coalition building, campaign development, policy transformation, and organizing. Ignite NC is creating a cultural shift of what it means, looks like, sounds like, and feels like to organize in the South today. Organizing in the South today means radical politic. It looks like growing into your authentic self unapologetically. It sounds like the demands for collective liberation. And it feels like being the leaders those before us knew we would be.
As of October 1, 2018, I started my transition out of Co-Director of Ignite NC. I will be moving into National Co-Director of BYP100. This transition will call for persistence, patience, and a loving community of support. I will also call on that same support for Nhawndie Smith. Nhawndie Smith has agreed to move into Co-Director of Ignite NC, alongside the incomparable Holden Cession. We could not be more excited for this succession plan. I met Nhawndie some time in 2015 at a march in Durham. They were a student at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University, and eager to get involved with organizing and community organizations at the time. How lucky was Ignite NC to have Nhawndie join our fellowship program, and soon after becoming the Triad Field Organizer. We are comrades and I am excited to play a small role in their leadership.
As we all rotate into these transitions, I have a few asks:
In the words of Mary Hooks, Co-Director of Southerners On New Ground, “I hope that everyone…takes a huge step up.” We do not build organizations for isolation, we build them to build community. My hope is that everyone that feels excited about these transitions will also offer support and patience to see your excitement all the way through.
Please support these organizations financially. Period. Both Ignite NC and BYP100 are Black queer led organizations that are committed to building towards Black freedom, amongst other things, and we’ve been able to do so much with so little. In order for both these organizations to continue to live in our values, we must help to sustain them.
Thank you in advance for your support and contributions. My hope is that we always build leadership in abundance and change with the times. And as transitions I hope that everyone remains connected to their commitment and to the struggle.