Two weeks with OBV


I was warned on my first day in the Operation Black Vote office that I would be thrown in the deep end. I found this to be true when given my first deadline: a 400-word profile on four of the new BME Congressmen and Congresswomen sworn in to the House of Representatives this January. Suddenly, I feared that I had forgotten to how to swim.

However, the support of the OBV team in talking through and editing my draft helped give it more structure and put me more at ease. I was also taught how to upload it as content on the website. I’m sure that these and other skills I’ve learnt in my 2 weeks at OBV will be useful for me in years to come. The deep end was starting to feel more manageable.

I felt privileged to have been given the opportunity to write news stories for the OBV website and it has been a quick, but valuable learning curve for me. Having got so used to writing at university in an academic, neutral and somewhat removed tone, it was refreshing to be reminded of the importance of writing one’s opinion with more narrative freedom.

I found it fascinating to see the two sides of OBV’s work. Firstly, I was introduced to the bottom-up, grassroots aspect by assisting on the local campaign to save Frank Wang, Bethnal Green’s favourite coffee vendor. It was incredibly rewarding to jump into the Crowdfunding campaign’s final two weeks and see it surpass its target. It was humbling to see the local community rally around Frank and give him the chance to get back in business. When meeting Frank, I was also struck by his kindness and optimism about humanity’s unselfish nature.

However, in my second week at OBV, I was shown that there was an even deeper end. I was shown the top-down, policy-making side of the work at Whitehall. I was honoured to be present in a meeting at the Cabinet Offices with senior officials. I was extremely fortunate to accompany the Director Simon Woolley for a meeting with a prominent African American Dallas Jones to talk about Government procurement and race equality.

I was able to witness, in a small way, the two sides of OBV’s work justify each other and together help them achieve their aims.

I have been inspired by the work that OBV does. It has reminded me that activism, even in a time of political turmoil, can, and must, make small but continuous steps towards racial and social justice. The deep end was fascinating to navigate.

Louis Brady