I was born in Memphis, Tennessee in the summer of 1964.
My parents picked cotton and Dad also worked on cars. My mom was tired of the racism and unfair working condition they faced in Mississippi and wanted a better life and encouraged my dad to move the family to Memphis.
I grew up as one of five children with both parents. My father, now a full-time mechanic, and my mother, a stay- at- home mom until I entered high school. As I got older, like my mom, I knew in order for me to get more out of life I had to move to get a better life. As fate would have it, during college, I met a rather dapper young sailor from Seattle who spoke of mountains, cool summers and a place where opportunity was more than I was experiencing in the South. Eventually, we married and settled in to this beautiful place called Seattle.
When I arrived I was captivated by the beauty, fresh air and blue waters. The people were warm and full of smiles. Soon, I was invited to church in Mt. Baker and joined the choir and for me this was great. I was happy to be here. I had a new pastor and church family that I adored. We rented a family member’s house in South Seattle on 46th and S Kenyan. I couldn’t ignore the challenges I saw and the condition my new family and friends were living in. Not being from Seattle, I could see clearly the conditions of the community’s disparity; jobs, income, and crime were all too rampant, although we all were enjoying life. I could see we were not getting equal treatment relative to the other areas of Seattle. A cursory look beyond the Rainier Valley and all could see new buildings, cleaner streets and minimal crime.
I felt Seattle was the place for me but If I was going to make it “my home,” I had to set out on a plan that would not only improve my life, but improve the lives and people in the community that had embraced me and my family after landing in this town.
Under grey skies and the pitter patter of rain, I set out to raise a family. Although, I was able to get a job in Seattle, I struggled for every inch of progress I made. Often taking one step forward led me to getting pushed two steps back. I was facing challenges I had not faced growing up as a child. (In Memphis, my siblings and I were able to be children. We didn’t worry about lights off, no home, we lived in a community that took pride in their families, children, home, job and being one that made it, if even tho the salary was low. It was so much more than the lifestyle my parents had in Mississippi.) Here, living in a temporary shelter on Broadway and Yesler, my son was going in prison, dealing with the death of a son and the responsibilities of dropping my daughter off after school for daycare and picking her up in the mid-morning and moving every year for a while was challenging. My job- working in the field of healthcare did not pay me enough to take care of my family on my own without some type of state financial assistance.
My transition from a married woman to a struggling single parent was significantly a lot to handle. Every aspect of life became increasingly more difficult as the expenses of Seattle started to put added stress on my family’s finances and stability. In the early 1990’s I too became a victim to such conditions and was forced to move out of Seattle, seeking more affordable ways to raise my children.
Many years passed, and many more challenges came my way. I got through them all, with some being more heartbreaking than the others. My son was sentenced to prison at 18 years old and the loss of my second son while still a baby infant was detrimental. I was also working at night and would have to drop my daughter off at a 24-hour daycare, so I could both work and take care of her. These were trying times.
Some of the people I called family at that time are gone, but what still remains is the wonderful sense of community, dynamic culture and the spirit of togetherness. No longer are the beauty shops, soul food joints and nightclubs on the corner. They have all been replaced by coffee shops, clothing stores and cannabis shops. We still continue to face some of the same issues I experienced when I first arrived 33 years ago.
Looking back on all of the years of living, living and surviving in Seattle, I know what the people of Seattle need. People need to thrive and not just survive. I know the people; I have served them for years. I heard their cry when their children got injured in the streets by reckless drivers. I have marched with political leaders during fight for women’s equality and have celebrated with the people when Seattle has announced new funding sources specially directed to help improve the lives of our community.
My mom also instilled other words that still live within me. “You are ultimately responsible for you and your own, when you have a problem, seek solutions and share the results with your brothers and sister and all those that are affected by the answer.”
These words were instilled during childhood that would lead me down my path of purpose that inspires me to represent my community.
I’m a public servant seeking solutions and sharing with everyone that it affects. This is who I am. I have always and will continue to serve unselfishly, with energy, passion and an open ear to listen to everyone. If elected as councilmember to serve my home district, I will work “For the People” and not shut people out. Seattle has to embrace our diversity and allow equal access to all citizens to the services of the city. I’ve lived through many of the challenges that people whom I want to represent are facing.
Our current policies are not working. We have to make a change and bring leadership to the table that has lived and been highly impacted by the current policies that aren’t working. Often time and time again our policy makers are not personally affected by many of the issues they are working on and for them representation is just a job. They may have good intentions but can these leaders truly relate? How many current and former councilmembers today can say I’m tired of struggling, I’m going to have to not pay my electric bill and make sure rent is paid. Who has said to their children, “ I’m sorry, but I honestly don’t have money to buy the laptop you need for school for your class? “ I’ve said all of these things with heartache, frustration and shame.” But it wasn’t because I didn’t work hard or not have a job. I struggled because policy didn’t and wasn’t supposed to work for people like me.