Gotham Gazette

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Daughters of the Movement, Carrying On

daughters stacy lynch

Stacy Lynch, the author (photo: @lynchfornyc7)

Growing up in Harlem as the daughter of Bill Lynch, the mastermind behind David Dinkins’ campaign to become the first Black mayor of New York, public service is in my DNA. Watching him put together coalitions, something he began working with farm workers in the potato fields of eastern Long Island, has stayed with me throughout my career in law and government.

That legacy carries with it the obligation to pay it forward in trying to improve the lives of all of our neighbors. It is why I reached out to the daughters of other pioneering Black activists to work together to create the Daughters of the Movement to build on that legacy.

Working with the daughters and granddaughters of so many of those pioneers – Harry Belafonte, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, Percy Sutton, Diahann Carroll, Malcolm X, and Al Sharpton – we have dedicated ourselves to continuing the never-ending struggle towards justice and equality in our city and our nation. 

The need for coalition-building has been especially true at this moment, as we struggle with the impact of three devastating crises that individually would be intimidating and together confront us with unprecedented intensity, and which disproportionately affect Black and brown communities in New York City and beyond.

The COVID-19 pandemic, the economic dislocation it has caused with the loss of many thousands of jobs and small businesses, and the struggle for long-overdue racial and economic justice that erupted after the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Jacob Blake, and so many others tell us that our ancestors’ struggles are not ancient history but present day reality. 

They persist in ways large and small, visible and less visible – the lack of affordable housing, food deserts in vulnerable communities that are linked to high rates of diabetes, environmental racism evident in the groupings of high asthma rates and the location of bus garages and sewage treatment plants, and a digital divide that spans the generations, whether it is students trying to access the internet for remote learning or senior citizens wrestling with trying to register for a COVID-19 vaccine online. 

As Daughters of the Movement, we have not been immune to the racism and misogyny that afflicted our foreparents’ efforts to seek justice. In some of our online programming, we have experienced cyberbullying including pornographic, racist, and threatening comments. But we know our foreparents carried on with grace, dignity, and determination in the face of psychological and physical bullying. They would not allow it to dissuade them from the struggle. We too are committed to that legacy of strength and dedication. 

We continue to move forward, furthering their legacy and, rather than resting on their laurels, building upon it in a never-ending struggle. 

That struggle requires coalition, since together we are stronger than when we stand alone. In my career, whether in law or government, that has meant reaching out to the New York Liberty to create a girls basketball league, working to create internships in the entertainment industry, pressing for the creation of thousands of city-supported summer jobs, or organizing the distribution of masks throughout NYCHA developments during the pandemic. 

Growing up as the daughters of pioneers carries its own challenges, which is why in 2017 I first reached out to the daughters of so many of those pioneers who shared the pressures and opportunities our upbringing presented us. 

Put simply, I needed a sisterhood.

We have launched a series of podcasts and speakers’ programs across multiple outlets to talk about our experiences and how they relate to developments in politics, the arts, sports, health and, of course, the continuing struggle against racism, injustice, and inequality.

And we talk about the personal aspects of that legacy in ways we hope those who hear us can relate to in their own struggles with growing up and fighting for what is right. 

Our parents showed us the way, and we are fighting to open that door wider to welcome all who struggle with us. We’re all in this together.

Stacy Lynch, who lives in West Harlem, is running for City Council in Upper Manhattan’s 7th District. On Twitter @lynchfornyc7.

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