Following in the footsteps of author Olivia A. Cole’s brilliant Women of Wednesday series, our own ongoing “An Extraordinary Impact” features people of color responsible for creating an extraordinary impact within their communities. By providing them with a platform to share their accomplishments, goals, and message, we hope to not only celebrate their achievements, but to galvanize support for their endeavors.
Destiny Brown, Baltimore
1. So what is it you’re doing and why are you so passionate about it?
I am doing everything in my power to protect my education. In coordination with Wide Angle Youth Media, where I am an intern, we produced a video documenting a youth-led rally last week at Baltimore City Hall that was in protest of the impending $130-million-dollar budget cut to education. The video is composed of candid shots from the rally, as well as video portraits of protesters, and is accompanied by an original poem about the importance of education and having one’s voice heard, written and recited by Baltimore City high school student Imani Turner. I am so passionate about this issue because I know how important education is to one’s development and success in life. Being raised by a single mom, it was ingrained in me early how many doors a good education can open for you. I want to advocate for this cause, as well as encourage others to advocate for what they believe in.
2. What made you decide to pursue doing this work?
I was given the opportunity to produce my own project at Wide Angle Youth Media and I wanted to do something that would help create a lasting impact in my community. I am a sophomore at the Baltimore School for the Arts, and my school relies on adjunct faculty to provide students with a free professional arts education. Under the current budget, I was told my school is facing a cut of over 90% (from $1.2 million to just $38,000) in the amount of money apportioned to adjunct faculty salaries. These cuts would devastate what makes my school a treasure. I am willing to do everything in my power to show the importance of investing in the education of Baltimore’s future leaders.
3. Who have been some of your biggest influences and inspirations?
One of my biggest inspirations would be former President Barack Obama. President Obama not only led the Race to the Top education initiative which granted over $4.35 billion to reform state and local district K-12 education, but he also comes from a similar background. He, too, was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth, but he did not let that prevent him from obtaining and utilizing his education to help others. Mr. President grew up and worked as a community advocate for the Chicago’s Southside, and I aspire to live up to the words he once said: “From the moment students enter a school, the most important factor in their success is not the color of their skin or the income of their parents; it’s the person standing at the front of the classroom.”
4. What would it take for you to consider this endeavor a success?
Being that our officials have still not come up with a solution to the deficit, I would consider this endeavor a success if everyone could share our video and support us in the fight to save our education. We must all unite together to combine our individual voices into one big powerful voice that will produce change.
5. How can interested parties support what you’re doing?
I encourage every Baltimore City constituent to call their representatives and tell them to fully fund our public school system. Anyone who wants to help fix our funding gap can also reach out to the Baltimore Algebra Project, who organized the protest, and who does tremendous advocacy work for our city's young people. Lastly, anyone interested in learning more about Wide Angle Youth Media's work in the community can refer to our website, here. You can also view our youth-made videos at vimeo.com/wideanglemedia. We also operate a social enterprise production house, and you can see that work at www.vimeo.com/wideangleproductions.
Are you making “An Extraordinary Impact” on your community and want to be featured in a future installment? Shoot us an email with your answers to the above questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.