Coming to Chicago this weekend to attend the Beyond November Movement Convening reminds me that I’m only one person in our movement for justice. I’m doing what I can in order to close the gaps that fellow young African Americans face, whether it’s an achievement gap, a civic engagement gap, or even a self-love gap. Rare is a space that is constructed for young black activists to convene and develop blueprints in order to win victories. I’m excited to be a part of this uncommon space.
I come to this convening recognizing a bitter irony in the lives of black leaders. In leading civic engagement work locally and nationally, I notice that although black people – particularly black men – are disproportionately affected by incarceration, job loss, and voter suppression; we are rarely leaders in the movement, let alone the faces of organizations that are dedicated to closing gaps. The irony has only made me more dedicated to the civic engagement work that I do, and to walking the walk.
More than anything, I want to become part of a deeper network of progressive African Americans who are working toward leveraging our individual and collective power to win real concrete improvements in the lives of young black people – including our own lives. And on the way to achieving this success, I want us create strong plans that have clear goals. I want to learn how we can use our resources to help each other. I want to collaboratively set goals that we all share and learn how to achieve those goals together.
During the convening, I look forward to building new relationships with every participant and learning about what other participants are doing to engage fellow young African Americans. I’d like to leave with a clear understanding of how other participants and I can work together for the long term.
What I realize is that, as poet June Jordan once said, we are the ones we have been waiting for.
About Cedric Lawson
Cedric Lawson is an organizer whose focus has been on engaging fellow young Americans, particularly in voter registration and the broader LGBT movement for justice. He has served as a full-time legislative affairs director, development director, field organizer, and a part-time trainer. Currently, Cedric is a field associate with The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.