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CPD Affiliates Lift Their Voices at Storytelling Festival in New York City

On August 9, CPD took part in Speak Up, Rise Up, a festival of storytelling dedicated to sharing the experiences of individuals who too often don’t get a chance to have their stories heard. The festival featured the stories of women of color, veterans, senior citizens, members of the LGBT community, and many more.

CPD’s program showcased the stories of organizers within the CPD Network and explored the experiences that motivated individuals to organize and mobilize their community. Perla Lopez, a youth organizer with Make the Road New York, spoke of coming to the U.S. to join her mom ten years ago. A Dreamer, she learned about Make the Road New York through canvassers in her neighborhood, and decided she could make a difference in other people’s lives by encouraging them to speak out about their experiences.  

Vaughn Armour, a member of New York Communities for Change, explained how he began organizing after tenants in his building were threatened with eviction. After his longtime girlfriend passed away, his landlord responded by trying to buy out her two sons and evict them from the property. It had a transformative effect on him, pushing him to not just organize tenants but also to fight to change rental laws in New York.

Jesus Gonzalez, an organizer for CPD and Make the Road, spoke about the multiple shootings of young men of color in his neighborhood. Seeing so many of his friends face police brutality, he knew he needed to get involved.

Speaking with Jazmin Chavez, CPD’s Digital Director and moderator for the showcase, the three organizers delved into the obstacles they faced on their path, explaining how they had encouraged their friends and neighbors who had felt disheartened to get involved by showing them how they could make change. Responding to an audience question about how members of the community could help their organizations, panelists encouraged them to share their own stories to form community between those who feel powerless to make change. There is power in a story – power to heal, power to mobilize, and power to transform.