This spring, Fresh Energy was happy to take part in the Capitol Pathways program to improve diversity at the State Capitol. As part of that program, David Collier worked with our legislative team to build support and protect key policies this past session. As part of that work, David was asked to speak alongside Governor Mark Dayton and other interns at the reception to celebrate the first year of the Capitol Pathways program. His speech about the value of the Capitol Pathways program and the need to improve diversity at the legislature is below.
“Before I begin, I want everyone to take a look around the room and find someone you don’t know. Maybe they’re right next to you, maybe they’re across the room, or maybe they look a little different than you. We’ll come back to that in a moment.
There are several people who I want to thank tonight. First, Juve, Pahoua, Claire, and Annie: thank you for having the vision to put this program together. Thank you to Fresh Energy for showing me the ropes at the Capitol. And thank you to my fellow cohorts who had the drive to come out and show how important it is to make Minnesota’s political spaces more inclusive by getting our foot in the door.
Earlier this week, a group of us was asked to be on Almanac at the Capitol on TPT and they asked us when we got there if we were nervous. For me, it really represented what this whole program represents: that to break down some of these barriers you have to get comfortable being uncomfortable.
But in those uncomfortable moments, we all have to ask ourselves: “Why am I here?”
I’m here because I belong here. I’ve put in the work necessary to achieve my goals. I’ve had the opportunity to learn from people from different backgrounds and with different perspective and hopefully they’ve had the chance to learn a little bit from me. Because this is about more than applauding students of color – it’s about focusing on what comes next.
Tonight, standing in front of this group of distinguished professionals, exceptional students, and all of our loved ones, I know that we’ve put in the work to be here. And when you all leave here, I hope you see everyone you meet through that same lens. Just because someone looks different than you, doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to be where you are.
Everyone deserves to be seen for who they are, not simply who you think they should be. In order to push racial equity forward, we all have to carry that idea with us every day.
This program’s very foundation is built upon that idea. The idea that equality doesn’t just happen on its own – it’s on each and every one of us to make it happen.