Know the end goal first before joining any activism group
When marching and protesting don’t add up to results
When I read the temporary results of a criminal trial, I bought a bus ticket shortly after. I knew I wanted to go to this particular city and vent my frustration regarding the judge’s decision. I knew I wanted to donate funds to get one particular gentleman out of prison. And I knew I wanted to go to the local courthouse to figure out what exactly was going on — because the news just wasn’t covering it enough for my taste. (It was the very first time I ever decided to cover a news story myself — long before I knew I had any interest in journalism.)
I kept my travel plans pretty low-key up until my supervisor at the time really wanted me to attend a book publishing work event. I knew if I told her why I couldn’t go and where I was really going for a few days, my job would be at risk — especially if we weren’t on the same side of the trial results. Luckily for me, we were. I packed my bags, let my godfather know where I was headed (it was close enough to his hometown in case I needed help) and jumped on the bus.
Working with a group of activists is incredibly helpful. There is a bonding experience that happens when you find out that people care about the same causes that you do. I know first-hand how stressful it can be to fight for a cause by yourself, while everyone who agrees with you just sits quietly by the sidelines. But I’ve never been really good at being a bystander. I’m a walking, talking version of, “If you see something, say something,” even if my opinion may not be the most popular.
The legal case mentioned above has long passed. The individual in question has been freed from prison. And while this was my first “go” at journalism, I learned quite a bit about grassroots activism that I’d originally not thought much of.