We Pave the Way

Posted 16 July 2016 12:00 AM by Azeb Freitas

As the Advocacy Assistant this past week was full of preparation, nerves, and excitement leading up to our big presentation at the State House. Since the presentation was earlier this year than before because of election season there was a significant sense of urgency among the staff and students to get this important work done. We started on Monday thinking that the arts budget was going to be approved for $14 million. It was bewildering to find out when we came into work on Tuesday that not only did Governor Baker veto the budget, but he also cut the budget down to $6.5 million. This budget is not only for the city of Boston, but for the entire commonwealth of Massachusetts. When we learned this information we knew we had some work to do and had to change our entire script.

I was so impressed with how flexible and willing the teen leaders were and got right into work. It just shows how much the arts mean to them. They understand that this is no joke and we only had two days to change it and rehearse it along with their group song. Now jump ahead two days and it’s Thursday, July 14 at 10 am. All the teens are dressed professionally and ready to go. We first did the presentation for Senate President Stan Rosenburg. He was so blown away and touched by the performance that he requested that they do it for the whole Senate after their presentation at the Grand Staircase. This was a historical moment for Citi Spotlights because that has never happened before. For me, it gave me a sense of hope to see a legislator that actually cared about the arts and the voice of the people especially during a time like now when it feels like the whole system is corrupt.

Another moment of affirmation in the justice system was meeting Representative Cory Atkins. When she came to see the presentation she became a part of the performance. She even sang their group song that they created. The moment that made my eyes water, just a little, was when she did a call and response with the teens saying “We are here! Hear our voices! Override! Governor Baker’s Veto!” and then the crowd roared and cheered. It was really beautiful to see all of our work resonate with public officials. It felt like we were reminding them what their job is and that we are the people your choices are affecting and we are real. Advocating is so crucial for the things we love and want to keep. This is a prime example of how advocacy can lead to real change and pave the way for future generations.

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