July 19, 2013 by juicefong
I’ve been meaning to publish this first ever Fongalong guest blog post by one of my Twitter followers, an inspiring 16-year old high school student I met in Baltimore a few months ago. Timing was not on our side by the time it was ready to publish—I had just landed for my vacation in Europe. But today is the 165th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention that occurred over the course of two days in upstate New York. So in celebration of women everywhere, I present to you Dawnya Johnson’s words, unedited. Her bio as submitted to me is below as well.
On June 25th the world…or at least half of America went ballistic as they watched Texan Senator Wendy Davis filibuster the Texas abortion law. Thousands of people gathered at the Texas rotunda in support of the movement she was trying to make and she received 4,900 tweets a minute from others who supported and opposed her views. Although Senator Davis’s filibuster ended because of the complex laws used to discourage filibustering in Texas, Wendy Davis stood on. The people chanted and it was inspirational to see Senators, who would have voted against Wendy without the backup of the people, vote with her.
This example of inspirational leadership and advocacy only shows that the passion that was once ignited in Americans still stands today. I was overwhelmed with emotions when I saw the power that those people put behind the planned parenthood and Senator Davis initiative. A lead organizer from the BUILD organization in Baltimore says that “Organized people plus organized money is power,” and June the 25th was enough to prove that organized people can accomplish anything.
I would challenge individuals to use this example as motivation for future issues such as: education reform/budgeting, gun violence prevention, and health care. Because any problem that you can get people to rally around is worth fighting for. We should not let this power die off or allow the buzz to die down. We should continue with this same intensity in making change for other issues.
Dawnya Johnson (@DawnyaJohnson) is a 16-year old junior at Seton Keough High School in Baltimore and a student leader with the Intersection, an organization that empowers youth to advocate for themselves, their communities, and their peers through civic engagement. Dawnya has learned to use the shortcomings of her environment and family life to become a stronger advocate and activist for those without a voice. She has been an active partaker of community activism and has had various opportunities to share her story and empower those with stories like her own. These opportunities include a press conference with Congressman Elijah Cummings, a rally with Governor O’Malley, and an event in support of the Maryland Dream Act with Senator Ben Cardin. Due to self- and community- empowerment, Dawnya now has a new outlook on the life of underserved youth in Baltimore, and believes that regardless of situation success is always possible.