Prepping more Black millennials for a future in civic leadership is the mission of a local organization, Black Bench Chicago.
The group started a couple of years ago and has already demonstrated an impact on Chicago politics.
“There’s a gap between generations and passing knowledge,” said Alexandra Sims-Jones, Black Bench Chicago co-founder.
The organization connects older generations with those younger to share lessons in civic engagement and organizing. It hosts lessons with storied political leaders like Ken Bennett, who worked for former President Barack Obama.
Those able to apply are Black community leaders ages 25 to 45.
The group has had much success: Past cohort members include Kennedy Bartley, the new executive director of United Working Families, and Anthony Driver, president of the city of Chicago’s Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability.
It’s invaluable to have a space specifically for Black millennials, Sims-Jones said. There’s comfort in having a space where someone’s expertise won’t be judged because of implicit or explicit racism, she noted.
“It’s safe without those pressures and it’s incredibly refreshing,” Sims-Jones said.