Long-time friend and partner of The City School, Collique Williams recently came on staff with TCS. He is a grad of Boston-area Youth Organizing Project and a current member of the Intelligent Mischief Collective.
Share a little more about your background in organizing and activism.
Once upon a time when I was in the 8th grade, I was part of the church that I'm still a part of now, and my church was part of the Boston-area Youth Organizing Project. I got sucked in through there, so I started doing youth organizing and youth work. We started doing things in Hyde Park, we created a basketball leagues, and did projects in my community. I also was a part of overall youth organizing, organizing around violence on the T, against the achievement gap, etc.
In 2005, I graduated from high school and went off to college, but stayed connected to my youth organizing roots. I came on staff for BYOP in 2009, and then stayed, building up my leadership in a different way, making the transition from being a young person to being an adult leader in movement work with young people.
What was a turning point for you as a young person or young adult in moving into social justice work?
When you're a young person doing the work, you're expected to be out front, shiny, talking to the politicians, all that. When you're an adult working with young people, you make sure that the young people are out in the front. You're no longer in front of the cameras, you make sure that the cameras get there. The long and the short of it is making sure that you know how to move in the background with grace.
What are some of the issues that you're passionate about, and why?
What it comes down to for me is access. One of the things that is really important to me is education, things like gentrification, people not being displaced, having access to the basics.
What are you most excited for in stepping into this staff role at TCS?
All of the work! To work with the young people and to move our agendas. Being able to sit down with somebody and have them talk out what their issue is, and figure out how their going to attack it - that's one of the most enjoyable things.
Which social justice activist(s) would you want to have coffee with, and why?
I would love to sit in on a conversation with Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Assata Shakur and Ella J. Baker, and drink tea.