These are three of the beautiful, powerful, and fearless people whose leadership I follow as an organizer for Pacific Northwest Family Circle.
Friends: I want you to know them, because they are so incredibly important and inspirational to me.
Shiloh Wilson-Phelps is on the left. She's always got great ideas. (Her and Irene were the first to imagine PNWFC.) And she's bold. And energetic. She's seriously not taking any shit from people and can also share the most personal, painful, vulnerable corners of her heart. At our Feet to Fire protests, no one gets by her without finding out that her son #BodhiPhelps was murdered by Gresham police.
Irene Kalonji is in the middle. She is our hero. Our rock. She is incredibly loving and accepts me at face value, for who I am, in her own special way that always makes me feel special. She's strategic and thoughtful and smart. And strong. She's told the story of her son #ChristopherKalonji's murder so many times, even though it only gets harder but she does it anyway, because she understands the incredible power of storytelling and uniting Families who've Lost Loved Ones to support each other.
Donna Hayes is on the right. I always know where we stand, and if I don't, I can just ask. I love her supportiveness, directness and her perspectives, the way she argues a point. Donna can research the shit out of a law, policy, or police-caused death. You can rely on her to get to the bottom of the story or patiently tell the story of her own grandson, Moose (#QuaniceHayes), so people can understand why he and so many others should never have been shot by police.
Honestly, many of my comments about these three women are interchangeable, which is why I love and respect all three of them so much. I'm grateful for their leadership and so excited to see the Stolen Angels Billboard Project -- this photo was taken at the fundraiser last night -- take off! I had no part in the billboard project, so my heartfelt thanks to Britton Washington and everybody at Portland Equity in Action for their tireless efforts and congratulations on this huge success!! I'm grateful for your leadership, too, Britton.
~Written By: Maria Cahill