“I wasn’t looking for a platform, but I guess that’s kind of what’s developing on a small scale, thanks to CSNDC,” says Reggie Stewart, a 42-year-old social justice activist and father of five who lives in Codman Square.
“I don’t think I would be as involved or as in tuned with the network of other activists if not for being plugged in through them,” he says.
As a real estate broker for almost ten years, Reggie is keenly aware of the impact of the racial wealth gap and how that plays out in terms of gentrification and displacement.
“African Americans have suffered under redlining,” he says. “As the wealth gap has worsened and there’s less housing supply, as landlords and developers are given more power and as tenants are given less rights, it’s definitely a focus of mine to make sure that African Americans, and all vulnerable communities for that matter, are protected – especially in a city like Boston where we have some of the highest rents in the country.”
Reggie’s passion for social justice is obvious, but his efforts lacked structure and focus – that is, until he met Jason Boyd, director of CSNDC’s Community Organizing & Resident Resources Department (CORR).
“When I met Jason and he told me what he did and we got to talking, he said, ‘Hey, I like your ideas, come to this meeting,’” says Reggie. “And I just kind of got sucked in from there. I couldn’t be happier about bumping into him.”
“What really stuck out to me was that they are data-driven and inclusive of all parts of the community in their approach. So that’s what really drew me in from that first meeting,” he says.
Since getting involved with CSNDC, Reggie has participated in direct action organizing activities related to securing affordable housing in Dorchester, met with State Legislators as part of MACDC’s Lobby Day event as well as CSNDC’s annual Donut’s w/Delegates community advocacy breakfast with state and city elected officials. He has also testified at the Massachusetts Statehouse in support of legislation that provides protections for renters.
Reggie also played an integral part in the planning and facilitation of CSNDC’s 2018 Suffolk County District Attorney Candidates forum and subsequent report that was released as part of our RAVE (resist, advocate, vote, educate) initiative. RAVE is a collective of active and engaged Dorchester residents working in coordination with CSNDC staff and board members to host community civic education events, develop, organize and advocate for policies beneficial to the community and perform voter registration and education.
“Reggie is a genuine leader and a leading voice for connecting the issues of reparative justice and housing advocacy,” says Boyd. “We are so fortunate to have him in our community and on our team.”
Now, through CSNDC’s work in bringing attention to the importance of the census, Reggie has been hired as a census worker in the Codman Square community.
Reggie is grateful for the connections he has made through CSDNC.
“Without CSNCD, I’d kind of be out there just by myself, making my argument,” Reggie reflects. “But they have connections and community to other like-minded advocates so I’m not over in the corner with a bull horn by myself. Thanks to CSNDC, I have a family of activists I can add my voice to.”