The DIOP Circle V.24

December 8th, 2019


Davonte Johnson

Every Sunday, we publish a story from a member of the DIOP community. Because each and every one of you is on a journey and we're right there with you.

This week, we're proud to highlight Davonte Johnson. He is a Youth Leader with Detroit Action, a grassroots, membership based organization that fights for economic and social justice for low-income workers and Detroiters. And he's going to share what community means to him.

I used to think that overcrowded classrooms were normal and took it for granted that classmates of mine would become incarcerated. Then they shut the water off at my school. Through Detroit Action, I trained to become an organizer. Clean water is not a privilege; it's a right. We organized and acted against the lack of accessible water in Detroit Public Schools.

Once we got clean, drinkable water back in our school, we were able to turn our attention to the over-policing and punitive culture. We had lots of metal detectors and security officers from a private company. We were able to get them replaced with community safety officers.

Detroit Action is a power and capacity building organization. And we take those lessons and apply them to our work. For example, whenever decisions are made about Detroit Public Schools, we believe a student should always be present. We shaped a board of young people who sit with educators to make decisions. That’s how we build, strive, and win.

Like many people, I was horrified and filled with anger after the 2016 presidential election. Detroit Action pushed me to do something with it. I and 50 other young people traveled to Washington D.C. to march and bear witness. It was important not just as a release, but to prepare to defend our values and protect our communities.

I try to break down the border between personal and professional. I like to build through relationships. When someone is used to seeing their classmates being taken away by in handcuffs at lunch, asking how it makes them feel is where organizing starts. I go to Detroit Action to learn more about what issues to organize around. From there, we plan.

Our organizing is lead by people who it impacts and want to see change. Our campaigns are drafted with what the people want. If we can shift the culture in our schools, we can shift the culture in our broader communities. We motivate young people through walk-outs, concerts, and open-mic events. Keeping them engaged sets the standard for our activism both in principle and in practice.

Community means a lot to me. Unity. Power. Intersectionality. Without those things, communities can't meaningfully exist or thrive. We all have to work with each other, around each other, and through each other to make change. The ability to nourish and receive nourishment helps keep me focused and ready.

I'm an unapologetic advocate for this organization. It's a family. When we knock on your, we start by getting to know you and you feel. Your interests and relationships matter. This is how we make space, especially for the young. We're on the ground, doing the work. And your support goes a long way to make sure young people continue to have a space here.


The DIOP Circle V.24

December 8th, 2019


Davonte Johnson

Every Sunday, we publish a story from a member of the DIOP community. Because each and every one of you is on a journey and we're right there with you.

This week, we're proud to highlight Davonte Johnson. He is a Youth Leader with Detroit Action, a grassroots, membership based organization that fights for economic and social justice for low-income workers and Detroiters. And he's going to share what community means to him.

I used to think that overcrowded classrooms were normal and took it for granted that classmates of mine would become incarcerated. Then they shut the water off at my school. Through Detroit Action, I trained to become an organizer. Clean water is not a privilege; it's a right. We organized and acted against the lack of accessible water in Detroit Public Schools.

Once we got clean, drinkable water back in our school, we were able to turn our attention to the over-policing and punitive culture. We had lots of metal detectors and security officers from a private company. We were able to get them replaced with community safety officers.

Detroit Action is a power and capacity building organization. And we take those lessons and apply them to our work. For example, whenever decisions are made about Detroit Public Schools, we believe a student should always be present. We shaped a board of young people who sit with educators to make decisions. That’s how we build, strive, and win.

Like many people, I was horrified and filled with anger after the 2016 presidential election. Detroit Action pushed me to do something with it. I and 50 other young people traveled to Washington D.C. to march and bear witness. It was important not just as a release, but to prepare to defend our values and protect our communities.

I try to break down the border between personal and professional. I like to build through relationships. When someone is used to seeing their classmates being taken away by in handcuffs at lunch, asking how it makes them feel is where organizing starts. I go to Detroit Action to learn more about what issues to organize around. From there, we plan.

Our organizing is lead by people who it impacts and want to see change. Our campaigns are drafted with what the people want. If we can shift the culture in our schools, we can shift the culture in our broader communities. We motivate young people through walk-outs, concerts, and open-mic events. Keeping them engaged sets the standard for our activism both in principle and in practice.

Community means a lot to me. Unity. Power. Intersectionality. Without those things, communities can't meaningfully exist or thrive. We all have to work with each other, around each other, and through each other to make change. The ability to nourish and receive nourishment helps keep me focused and ready.

I'm an unapologetic advocate for this organization. It's a family. When we knock on your, we start by getting to know you and you feel. Your interests and relationships matter. This is how we make space, especially for the young. We're on the ground, doing the work. And your support goes a long way to make sure young people continue to have a space here.


By Davonte Johnson

Follow Davonte @tae_thesinger and Detroit Action @detroit_action

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of DIOP.


- Davonte Johnson


Follow Davonte @tae_thesinger and Detroit Action @detroit_action

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of DIOP.