Lisa Conn Story Bank

From the Story Bank: Why I Joined the League

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Lisa Conn

 

“Sugar, you can change the world,” my Nana told me as she tucked me into bed at night. “We sure did.”

Five years ago, I was the kind of person who always had a plan. I was working at a law firm with plans to attend law school and followed a predictable roadmap to success. Yet as I lay in bed at night, I kept thinking about my Nana’s words: I could change the world.

A Jewish woman living in the South in the 1950s, my Nana wasn’t the typical Civil Rights era activist. She was a stay-at-home mother when social tensions began bubbling around her, so she decided to take action: she drove both blacks and whites to the polls in Newport News, Virginia, organized against a segregated swimming pool next to my father’s elementary school, and threw integrated parties in her home for her husband’s employees. She tapped friends and neighbors to march, sit in, and fight for change. And they made a difference.

As I watched the news and looked at the stack of books on my bookshelf, the stories and struggles of my heroes, it hit me: I wanted to do something purposeful. With my grandmother’s words ringing in my ears, I threw my plan away and I embarked on a journey to better my country through a career in political campaigns and advocacy, electing three leaders to office, and fighting for one of greatest civil rights issues of our time: immigration reform. My work on immigration reform reminds me of the fundamental promise of America: that everyone gets an opportunity to build something for herself and be part of history’s most profound political project. I joined the League of Women Voters-San Francisco, because I am eager to help my community exercise its voice, educate voters, and engage leaders in making a difference.

Zora Neal Hurston observed, “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” Activists of my Nana’s era raised questions of social justice and civil equality that America had previously been too scared to face. I joined the League so that in forty years, when I tuck my granddaughter into bed at night, I will be able to tell her that mine were years of answers, and that she, too, can change the world.

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