At the age of 14, I started to learn more about the reality of the world we live in. I began actively posting and speaking on my social media accounts to bring awareness to the multiple brutalities happening to my people. I’ve always been a person who doesn’t put up with these things. I speak up and I’m not afraid to. Oftentimes people like it when a person is “quiet” or “compliant.” We’re socialized to think it’s professional or makes you “easy to deal with,” like you won’t cause any problems. A lot of people don’t even think about the socialization of our society enough to sit back and observe.
About a year and a half ago, George Floyd was murdered; that’s what really struck me up. I realized after that happened that I really couldn’t sit at home and post on my social media anymore. I had to get up and do something. I was protesting at least once a week from May to October of 2020. I started an organization with my friend Moe’Neyah (who was also featured as part of The Kinsey African American Art & History Collection). In that organization, we were striving for change in local school districts. Because of our very similar experiences, given that we went to the same high school, we knew there needed to be some kind of change or additions in the curriculum. There are more Black leaders than MLK and Rosa Parks. Not to downplay the amazing work they did, but other Black leaders need to be taught about in schools. Because Moe’Neyah and I both leaders in our communities, we also had a community-funded trip to Washington D.C. for the anniversary of the March on Washington.
“[…] we knew there needed to be some kind of change or additions in the curriculum. There are more Black leaders than MLK and Rosa Parks. Not to downplay the amazing work they did, but other Black leaders need to be taught about in schools.”
A few months after this, I was offered a spot on the Kinsey Advisory Committee, and I was taken aback when I learned what I would really be part of. I had the privilege of getting to assist in planning events around this beautiful exhibition, getting to work with very prominent people in the community such as Mayor Victoria Woodards and Senator T’wina Nobles. When the exhibition got closer to opening, I was sent an email that I myself had been nominated as a prominent Black leader in the community and that my photo would be displayed with the exhibition. I was awestruck, completely taken aback that my community thought so highly of me. When I went and saw the exhibition for the first time, I was brought to tears. There are so many heartbreaking artifacts that are part of the show — I was overwhelmed with emotion knowing I played a part in bringing this to the museum.
Because of my involvement with The Kinsey African American Art & History Collection, I’ve been given countless opportunities that I could not thank my community enough for. I am incredibly proud of my accomplishments as a young Black activist. I hope to keep doing good for the community and to keep making them proud. It’s a feeling of euphoria knowing that people appreciate the work I put in!
This article appears courtesy of Kenzie Jones in conjunction with The Kinsey African American Art & History Collection. Find Kenzie on Instagram @kenzmaie for further information.