Spotlight: Faye Wilson Kennedy
If you've been involved in community work in Sacramento in the last four and a half
decades, the name Faye Wilson Kennedy is one you've heard. If you're lucky, you have met her. If you are truly fortunate, you have had the chance to watch her work.
Ms. Faye has a forty-five year history of advocacy and activism, fighting against poverty and racism; fighting for children, families, neighborhoods, equity. Ms. Faye is a founding member of the Southeast Village Neighborhood Association, co-founder of the Black Parallel School Board, president of the Friends of Colonial Heights Library, immediate past president of the Sacramento Area Black Caucus, and a lead organizer for the Poor People's Campaign, Sacramento. But don't let fancy titles fool you - Ms. Faye is the first person to be in the streets, sleeves rolled up, being the change she talks about seeing. From leading protests and demonstrations to organizing brunch for unhoused neighbors, Ms. Faye is everything we aspire to.
We were fortunate to catch up with and learn from her.
SJPC: What does "social justice" mean to you?
FWK: "The term social justice for me is rooted in two words for me “humanity and self-
determination [her emphasis]. As a middle-aged heterosexual Black woman who’ve organized for 45 plus years at all levels my humanity is deeply linked to my neighbors locally and the world community.
I must struggle to uplift and join in the struggles all folks who experience hateful forms oppression. My humanity is linked to the treatment of immigrants, poor folks, those living on the margins, my Indigenous sisters and brothers, women, LGBTQIA, sex workers, the formerly incarcerated the disabled; and individuals and families coping with COVID-19 virus.
As a human being I must be able to engage in self -determination. I must be a to name myself, understand my historical past living a racist, gender and class-based, xenophobic society.
I must join in coalition with oppressed folks to dismantle all forms of oppression. I must be willing to listen, learn to new ideas; expand my capacities, to write, to show-up, to speak-up and if necessary be willing to stand alone; to demand the re-distribution of resources to all, to ensure health care and housing for all; to ensure a quality education poor child; to demand better accommodations for my disabled sisters and brothers and create space for different voices."
SJPC: Why are you involved in social justice?
FWK: "The answer is quite simple for me. I engage in social justice organizing to call out and try dismantling white supremacy in Sacramento, in California and at the international level. White supremacy is a threat to our collective health and well-being [her emphasis]."
SJPC: How do you self-care, to be able to keep fighting for social justice?
FWK: "For me self-care so important. In the past I enjoyed going to Santa Cruz’s beach to relax with my books, and magazines to enjoy the warmth of the sun and listen to the sounds of the ocean.
Since the pandemic I now gather-up my teacup filled with herbal teas, my books and magazines with my crazy kitten enjoy my front patio. I read, think, and sleep."