Strategy. Partnership. Communication.
Speaking truth to power rarely happens. But with four members of the SNAP Alumni network in the halls of Congress last week it did. I’ve blogged about that before (see Dispatches: Real Experts on Hunger and On Hunger and Respect in America) but am moved to write again based on today’s New York Times editorial ("No Time to Cut Food Stamps") urging Congress not to cut the meager, short-term assistance the government provides people without the means to buy food for themselves and their families.
As part of our work with Participant Media and the campaign for A Place at The Table, we invited four members of the SNAP Alumni Network to join us in Congressional meetings and in screening the movie. Whenever Leslie Nichols, Jennifer Tracy, Trish Henley, Nikki Johnson-Huston, or Okiima Pickett spoke members of Congress were riveted. Texting ended, nodding heads went upright, slumped backs straightened. It was quite a thing to watch.
SNAP Alumni on Capitol Hill with Directors Lori Silverbush and Kristi Jacobson, Executive Producer Tom Colicchio, Jonathan J Halperin, Alden Stoner from Participant Media and colleagues.
As I said when introducing each of them, courage and leadership is what they embody. Many people have taken the food-stamp challenge and have tried to live for a few days on what food stamps provide. But imagine not only doing that for weeks and months but then becoming a successful tax attorney (like Nikki Johnson-Huston) or a nonprofit executive (like Jennifer Tracy), a college Professor (Trish Henley), a schoolteacher (Leslie Nichols), or an systems security architect (Okiima Pickett) – and then speaking before Congress about that experience? That is truth speaking to power.