The Activist Heart | Activism 101-5: Find the Narrative
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Activism 101-5: Find the Narrative

Find the Narrative

Video Transcript

I’m David Marquis, welcome to the Activist Heart.

In the third video, I talked about the critical importance of achievable goals and measurable success. You might also have noticed that I use stories a good deal when I teach. Stories, narrative, are so important. They provide depth and context and a sense of intergenerational humanity. I want you to consider both measurables and narrative. And of course, I’m going to illustrate this with a story.

In the late 1980s, I was asked to chair a series of meetings. We were trying to merge the two largest peace organizations in the country. This is when many people around the world were working to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world. Once a month, activists and board members flew in from all over the country. We worked on budgets and organizational structure, and it was work.

We had some really valuable, wonderful elders in the room, who were then about the age I am now. And some of them loved to talk about “back in the day”.

And they had been there. One of them had been on the Edmund Pettuss bridge in Selma with Dr. King and he wanted to tell his story in the middle of a work session. I felt badly about it, but I had to stop him. We had goals for that session, committee reports, the treasurer’s report… Work to be done.

I kept pushing, and we finished the session ten minutes early. I turned to this elder and said, “We have time now, and I’m sure we would all be honored to hear your story.” He told his story about Selma, and we thanked him and applauded him warmly.

Activism, at its best, is multi-layered. It achieves goals and weaves a rich tapestry of narrative. As an activist, you become a part of something so much bigger than yourself. It is a long, beautiful sometimes painful, always interesting and soulful journey.

So, here’s your assignment. What is the narrative, past, present, and future that you are part of? What movement or movements are you part of? And… How does the narrative you are creating relate to your measurables?

Work on it. Nobody said this was going to be easy. We’ll be back.

In this video, David discusses how narrative is important in the multi-layered work of activism.

Assignment: Consider the ongoing narrative that you are a part of. How does the narrative you are creating relate to your measurables?

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