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Inspiring Hope at the Karabelle Pizzigati Initiative Lecture

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On Wednesday, October 12, Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, CEO of the Children’s Defense Fund, joined the University of Maryland community for the Karabelle Pizzigati Initiative lecture on children’s advocacy. Wilson has fought for children throughout his career, personal life, and ministry. Speaking briefly about his career in child advocacy, Wilson touched on his prior struggles in the field and how he was able to overcome them. However, his primary focus was on present day issues and how to successfully address them in the future. Although the post-Covid era does face political challenges in child advocacy, Wilson highlighted policy and innovative solutions currently being studied and implemented across the United States.

In this deeply polarizing political climate, it is critical for communities to have a say in their policy-making process. Wilson offered the example of Ferguson, Missouri, where participatory budgeting has already been implemented. This has allowed people who, for decades, have been alienated from the political process, to have a say in things that greatly affect their daily lives. These victories tell us that important innovations are still being tried and tested, and that those with what Wilson calls “prophetic vision” can still see their solutions implemented in a community-centered way, even with the participation of their political opponents.

Wilson’s innovative call for the democratization of the policy-making process rings true both for those outside and inside of our “bubble” of policy. The field of family and child advocacy needs innovation to keep up with unprecedented times. Innovation in our field, like Wilson said, must have the participation of those it will affect. Wilson’s intellect, wit, and contagious optimism were inspiring. Many took with them a renewed spirit of working for the common good. 

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