Becoming An Activist

By Phoebe Liccardo posted 06-18-2020 10:47


Activism is the catalyst which is required for any real change to occur. Throughout history activists are those who have had the passion, will, and dedication to challenge the authorities in power and the laws in place in order to create a better world. My place in activism began at the height of the gun violence prevention movement I was invited to speak at a protest. The work began following that one protest as I was introduced to two other students who had the same passion, will, and dedication that I held to rid the country of gun violence. The three of us reached out to community members, young and old, and brought volunteers to their events just as they brought volunteers to ours. The three of us, students in high school at the time, worked together until the day we went off to college.

Upon returning from college we found ourselves in the midst of a pandemic and feeling completely restless as we were unable to execute many of the protests, events, and gatherings that we were used to organizing. We discussed the disparity in coronavirus cases that were felt by Black communities. As businesses, parks, and public spaces remained closed we discussed how Black communities were being overpoliced as tickets and citations were being given to citizens. We talked and brain stormed about what we could possibly do during the age of social distancing right up until the death of George Floyd. 

Upon the death of George Floyd we were reminded of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and the dozens of other Black Americans who had died in the hands of law enforcement. Before these people died by officers in uniform, they were failed by an unjust system of “law and order” and a country founded on and continuously perpetuating a racist institution. This is why we decided to organize a demonstration. Because Black lives are worth fighting for.

While the three of us had experience with activism we wanted to also collaborate with those who had planned and participated in Black Lives Matter protests in the past. The result of this collaboration was a team of eight women, five Black women, and three white women, working together under the name of Evanston Fight for Black Lives.

The biggest obstacle we faced with this protest was that we were planning a march and rally while also experiencing a pandemic. We were marching to save Black lives and the last thing we wanted was to lose more lives to Covid-19. 

Our biggest asset in our activism was social media, and we used it wisely. We created profiles for our event on Instagram and FaceBook, and most importantly we asked people to share on their own accounts. We asked for volunteers to donate masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and other supplies, as well as posters reminding marchers to social distance along our route. We kept the knowledge of our route only to those who were in Evanston Fight for Black Lives, as to create as little police interference as possible. Although it wasn’t necessarily our highest priority, this is why we were able to secure a peaceful protest.

As I watched the crowd of 3,000 residents march down the streets of Evanston chanting “No Justice, No Peace” and “Black Lives Matter” I felt that passion, will, and dedication to create a better world more than I ever had before. Evanston Fight for Black Lives continues to do work today and engages the community through social media platforms.

My success in activism begins with a clear message, inspires speakers to promote that message, and gathers the right people to hear that message. Activism, and the movements it creates, is easiest to achieve if you connect with those who’ve done it before and you’re dedicated to fighting for something, not against something.

One last thing: remember that politicians are required by law to listen to their constituents. However, they feel much more inclined to change their laws when there are thousands of people knocking at their doors (or inboxes) rather than just a handful.