Since I moved to Houston 6 weeks ago, I have been looking for active organizations to join and volunteer with to serve the local community. I went straight to the large organizations that claimed to be active in the community and saw the passive state of action that they were in, and decided that those organizations were not for me. I performed a search on Twitter to find organizations that were on the ground fighting for justice in the community and came across the Houston Justice Coalition. I read their profile on Facebook and further delved into the purpose and mission through the information provided on their website.
I signed up online as a volunteer and received a phone call from one of the organizers the same day. I volunteered the following day to collect signatures for a petition to get an ordinance considered for HPD officers to get appropriations for body cameras. This effort turned out a few dozen volunteers and gave us an opportunity to connect with a marginalized community. Through our petition drive we were able to engage community members in the local political process and educate them on what is going on and what is to come. We gave community members an opportunity to let their voices be heard. They were encouraged and inspired.
This event was so successful and powerful that I tailored my schedule to attend the town hall meeting at the El Dorado Ball room the following day. I showed up early to assist with any needs and ended up becoming a scribe for ideas and action items.
The room slowly began to fill and by the time we began the program, the room was packed beyond capacity. The energy in the room was electric and the rest of the evening proved to be a much-needed event.
The passion and fervor of everyone present and those who had an opportunity to speak displayed a need for more guidance and encouragement. People know what needs to be done to create change but they feel powerless and alienated. Too many political figures sit in their offices and request that people come to them instead of meeting their constituents where they are. The momentum that has come from the culmination of the deaths of many of our black men and women at the hands of the police can be used to create a long-term infrastructure of change. Houston Social Justice Coalition is at the forefront of that movement and are engaging, empowering, and educating their community to become leaders of today for the change of tomorrow.
I am so excited to be apart of this change and hope to use my resources and talents to support the coalition and other volunteers.
Irnise Fennell Williams, JD, RN