Never Put Away Your Marching Shoes
"My parents wouldn't let me march, they thought it would be too dangerous, that is why I have to go this Saturday"-1963 "Don't ever turn around in someone's driveway; it could give them license to shoot you" "Don't walk too slow or fast in certain neighborhoods, if they pull you over don't reach for anything." - Too many parents of young black men from 1963-2013. - As I've asked people to reflect on the progress we've made in 50 years, I realize some things have changed and some things have stayed the same. There is still reason to march today, tomorrow, and the day after. As Dr. King told one of the organizers of the march the day before he was killed..."Don't ever put away your marching shoes"
Things Will Change if We March On for Change Not Just Charity
On Tuesday night two women; both young, both children of immigrants, both of color, both nonprofit CEOs...sat down in a public restaurant to have dinner. We talked about strengthening the nonprofit sector, through things like advocacy, to bring about real change in our community. That would have been a very different conversation 50 years ago; if it would have been able to happen at all.
I urge nonprofit leaders and advocates to join me at the Nonprofit Roundtable as we continue to partner and advocate for a more just and caring community.
Here in Fairfax County, almost 58,000 people live in poverty, based on federal guidelines, and many have to make decisions between putting food on the table and paying rent. For the more than 1,300 people who are homeless in the county -- many of whom are served by my organization FACETS --they have dreams that have not been realized. But how can they realize their dreams for their family if they don't have something so basic as a home. We can't sit around dinner tables talking about how we can provide more service, we must go beyond providing just charity to people in need. It is time to make a shift and invest our time, talent, and treasure in advocating for the same economic justice and change Dr. King and other civil rights leaders spoke about and fought for 50 years ago.
Learn how you can help FACETS and other nonprofits provide and advocate for more affordable housing for our neighbors in need by taking a chance.
"Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary." - Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
We are not Emerging Leaders or the Next Generation
I was struck by how many young people were at the march on Saturday and the events on Wednesday, yet the speakers did not reflect that same generational diversity. I teach a Nonprofit Studies class at George Mason University in their undergraduate New Century College. We are actually launching a new Nonprofit Fellows program this semester! There are plenty of graduate-level nonprofit programs, but not enough focused on developing young leaders to choose the nonprofit sector as a career. On the first day of class I reminded my students that at 34 Dr. King was a civil rights leader. He had written the poignant, Letter from Birmingham Jail, and months later would deliver one of most powerful speeches of all time. He and others much younger than him rallied a whole country to seek economic and racial justice. There is no such thing as an emerging leader or the next generation. We are the now generation. Your time to lead and speak about change could come next week at the age of 23 like the great American hero, John Lewis, did 50 years ago. Be ready and learn all you can now. And older people don't dismiss young leaders because of their age. Think about if people had dismissed Dr. King & now Congressman John Lewis. Oh wait they did!
Progress is slow. We've come a long way, but the dream has not yet been realized. We must keep the promise! We must march on! We march on every day we can end homelessness or break the cycle of poverty in our community. We march on and realize the dream when we can fundamentally change the lives of people in need. We march on when we bring diverse thought-leaders to the table committed to take action and not just dream.
Amanda Andere, MPA
Executive Director of FACETS - Opening Doors for People in Need
Chair of Nonprofit NoVA a program of the Nonprofit Roundtable.
Follow me on twitter @AmandaAndere.