Looking Back, Looking Forward, and Seeing Hope

April 26, 2016

On April 18, more than 200 friends of The Opportunity Agenda came together at the Creative Change Awards to reconnect, laugh, reflect, learn, celebrate, conspire, and get down. They walked away with new ideas and a renewed sense of possibility (and with their very own racism decoder rings, mugs with artwork by Swoon (CC '14), and copies of Greg Jobin-Leeds and AgitArte’s incredible new book, When We Fight We Win). The event marked a decade of accomplishments for The Opportunity Agenda, and provided a window into the organization’s vision for the next 10 years.

In Executive Director Alan Jenkins’ speech, he provided staggering examples of our reach (16,000 leaders trained), honored the partners and funders who make what we do possible, and reminded us all of exactly how far we have come in a decade, from the mid-aughts era of MySpace and Yahoo to the 2016 era of BlackLivesMatter and a $15 minimum wage.

Helvetika Bold and her young friend use their racism decoder rings from the Reality Chex cereal box

More broadly, though, he spoke about “a new common sense - a common sense in which it is widely understood that the role of government is to expand opportunity and protect human rights; a common sense in which racism and sexism, religious intolerance and xenophobia, exclusion based on class or sexual identity are not just unacceptable, but inconceivable in our political discourse or our national identity.” He didn’t just share that vision, but asserted that, for the very first time, it is within reach.

Alan kicked off the program, emceed by D’Lo, which included inspiring speeches by honorees Susan Butler Plum and Linda Sarsour and the soul-shaking sounds of Toshi Reagon. The highlight of the night, as it always seems to be, was Helvetika Bold. She showed a sneak peak of her new video, The Racism Decoder Ring, which will soon light up the web with the help of Upworthy.

Helvetika Bold, D’Lo, Linda Sarsour, Susan Butler Plum. These are our heroes. On your newsfeed, in your paper, on the airwaves, and in the streets, they’re changing the narrative and the culture, making the world safe for full and equal opportunity.