Feb 17, 2021
Francesca Menes was hand-picked by future to guide a motion began by Ella Baker and echoed by Fannie Lou Hamer.
Two many years earlier, a really younger Menes stood amidst a crowd of protestors together with her mom at a rally in Little Haiti, barely capable of utter a phrase in English and bewildered by her neighborhood calling for stability of their homeland, in the course of the time Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti’s first democratically elected president, had been ousted.
When you embrace this work, activism seeps into your soul.
Now 35, Menes stands as a faithful immigration activist and political educator who brings energy to the individuals by instructing them the right way to leverage their collective voice, vote and advocate for public coverage to effectuate change.
“Being Black in America, you start to realize how your life is shaped differently,” she mentioned. “Everything comes down to politics.”
Menes, a agency believer within the Haitian proverb “men anpil chay pa lou,” which means “with many hands the load is light,” finds each alternative to lend a serving to hand and carry the burden of her neighborhood.
In her present function as deputy organizing director at Local Progress, she works to equip native elected officers with resources to advance an financial and racial justice agenda, and guarantee a easy transition into office.
Menes beforehand served because the state committeewoman for the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, second vice chair of the Miami-Dade County Commission for Women, co-founder of the Black Immigration Network and co-coordinator for the Florida Wage Theft Task Force.
Last year, she discovered herself on the forefront of political training efforts throughout a vital election cycle.
“Other people see the value in something you don’t,” she mentioned channeling the identical power as former voting rights activists. “They understand the value of your vote, but you as an individual don’t.”
Menes additionally chairs The Black Collective, which creates detailed voter guides with descriptions of
seats, amendments and referendums on the poll, and their affect on communities. She superior the group’s mission to raise political consciousness and financial energy in Black communities by fundraising to supply transportation for voters, translating supplies, and hiring 20 canvassers and area organizers at an hourly rate of $20.
As co-host of Island TV’s Konekte (“connect”) section, she acquired reward from listeners who thanked her for demystifying the world of politics.
“A privileged few shouldn’t be the only ones to access this information,” Menes famous. “You have to reach the community at the medium that is the most accessible to them.”
Her ardour for individuals comes from a end result of life occasions.
Growing up in Miami within the Nineteen Nineties, Menes was uncovered to a extra siloed model of town, the place Black communities would ostracize these of a unique ethnic background. The lack of unity, regardless of related plights throughout ethnic teams, tugged at her heartstrings.
Those feelings crystallized for her whereas strolling throughout Alabama’s Edmund Pettus Bridge – website of the Bloody Sunday civil rights motion protest of 1965 – throughout a weeklong journey sponsored by the Close Up Foundation, a Washington, D.C., civic training group for college kids and different younger individuals. It was there that Menes felt the decision to motion, immediately realizing that advocacy was the street she wanted to journey. She used a political science diploma from Florida International University to merge coverage and voter training with neighborhood motion.
“When you embrace this work, activism seeps into your soul,” she mentioned.
An epilepsy prognosis in 2013, in addition to the loss of life of her father and grandmother, threw her activism astray, however not for lengthy. With greater than 10 years of organizing and advocacy expertise below her belt, Menes defeated 9 anti-immigration and anti-refugee payments as a part of the “We Are Florida’s Family” statewide marketing campaign, and led a nationwide marketing campaign for Temporary Protected Status for Haitians.
In 2017, she launched grassroots advocacy company CommUnity Strategies to empower individuals to make use of their voices to build collective energy that transforms communities.
Understanding change as one thing incremental, Menes hopes to go away behind a blueprint for future generations, and expects her present work to create a greater world for the subsequent technology to stay in.
“Yeah, I could’ve been that doctor or lawyer, but policy is what shapes our lives,” she mentioned. “If it’s the cause of our problems, then we should be involved in it.”
The Miami Times is the biggest Black-owned newspaper within the south serving Miami’s Black neighborhood since 1923. The award-winning weekly is incessantly acknowledged as the most effective Black newspaper within the nation by the National Newspaper Publishers Association.