T. Morgan Dixon NewDay Speaker Event: A Reflection

GirlTrek, founded by T. Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison, focuses on pioneering a health movement for African-American women and girls through walking campaigns, community leadership, and health advocacy, grounded in civil rights history and principles.

(v.) To lace up our sneakers and walk each day as a declaration of self-care!
(v.) To heal our bodies, inspire our daughters, and reclaim the streets of our neighborhoods.
(v.) To reestablish walking as a healing tradition in Black communities as a tribute to those who walked before us.
(n.) A health movement organized by volunteers across America to inspire one million by 2018.

“Health crisis rarely has to do with weight and trauma has been built into the lives of Black Women. Every generation has moved with incredible leaps, but to ignore that trauma is a mistake.”

During the NewDay Speaker event, T. Morgan Dixon of Girltrek spoke of a great and radical love that had the power to begin healing generations of trauma that Black women had experienced over the course of their lives. She began her lecture with slides titled “In her footsteps which commemorated generations of Black women who had changed the fabric of their communities with their physical presence, by walking across boundaries and standing their ground. Throughout her lecture, Dixon revisited the themes of resilience, leadership, and movement. A powerful and heartfelt speaker, Dixon shared her story, speaking of this dynamic form of self-love and healing. Her lecture was moving and I, and many other members of the audience, felt compelled and inspired to get involved.

For me, Dixon’s advice for those wanting to make a change in their own communities was the most impactful.

“Intervene with a bold and courageous innovation. Solve the problems that are closest to you. Those who are closest to the problem are often closest to the solution.There are unintended consequences when you try to solve someone else’s problem.”

Dixon said this in direct response to a white woman in the audience who asked, “How can I get involved with GirlTrek?” Dixon elaborated to explain the way in which GirlTrek uniquely provides the space for African-American women to heal: it is a community that, as stated in the mission statement, is establishing a tradition. GirlTrek is addressing a problem affecting African-American women and establishing solutions that are lead by the self-starting and community building efforts of those same women.

To reflect, I think as changemakers, it is easy to feel compelled to act and involve yourself in a problem, truly compelled by empathy. Social innovation, as Dixon stated, focuses on addressing the root cause of the problem at hand. Each changemaker has a unique calling. Perhaps the calling aligns with their community, cultural identification, or unique heritage. To me, Dixon’s point is simple: find and develop your own place in the world of changemaking to be the most successful and impactful.

Piper Serra, Marketing and Communications Student Fellow at the Taylor Center
Political Economy and Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Class of 2019