Being born to a Kenyan father and an African-American mother, I had the unique opportunity of being raised in a cross-cultural home. I was born in Washington D.C. and grew up in Kenya where I completed my elementary and high school education. My parents were both educators who were actively involved in the civil rights movement and they supported the struggle for independence that was taking place across the African continent. From a young age, they instilled in me the importance of having the courage to challenge oppressive systems. I was always encouraged to “Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes” (Maggie Kuhn, American activist).
In addition to the political education I received in my home, my parents believed strongly in formal education as a tool for social change. So with their encouragement, I went on to further my education in Psychology, International Affairs, and African Studies.
After graduate school, I landed my dream job with the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) in St. Louis, Missouri. So much of who I am as an activist today was shaped by those early years at the Service Committee. I learned how to navigate through so many of the complexities and contradictions that I found within the progressive community and the society at large. I was stretched, and I grew both politically and culturally.
For six years I served as the Program Director for International Affairs and the U.S. Coordinator of AFSC’s Africa Youth Leadership program. Much of my work focused on educating and advocating for more just and consistent U.S. domestic and international policies. I was passionate about issues of police brutality that disproportionally affects Black and Brown communities, immigrant rights, food security and so on. I participated in World Social Forums in Brazil, Kenya, Mali, and the United States; I was part of an AFSC/Quaker delegation to Colombia to document the struggles of Indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities that were victims of a misguided U.S. policy to end the war on drugs. This lead to several years of education and advocacy on issues affecting communities in Colombia.
Furthermore, I helped train over 240 youth leaders in the US and in Africa; I collaborated with several organizations in the U.S. and around the world to build support for a broad based, mobilized and informed constituency for human rights; and I added my voice to the calls for the 100% cancellation of Africa’s illegitimate debts and the end of the war in Iraq, Sudan, and several other countries across the globe.
As a direct result of my work with AFSC’s Africa Peacebuilding Unit, I made the decision to pursue a doctorate in African Studies from Howard University. My research focused on the role of women in post conflict reconstruction after the 1994 genocide. My several visits to Rwanda were personally transformative. I learned so much about the importance of healing and reconciliation and what it takes to rebuild communities after unspeakable trauma.
In October 2016, I made the decision to return to AFSC, first as a consultant for six months, and then as the Associate Regional Director for the South Region. I am very excited about being back at AFSC! After working with several organizations and institutions both here and around the world, I have come to the conclusion that nothing can compare to working with an organization that aligns with one’s values. I look forward to the opportunity to share my skills in leadership, cross cultural communi-cations, conflict management, and activism, but I also see this an excellent opportunity for me to be stretched and to grow even further. On the other hand, I recognize that in this current social and political climate, there is much work to be done to challenge oppressive economic and political systems both in the U.S. and internationally.
I am willing and ready to add my voice and provide my support to the work on immigrant rights, human rights, political education, youth leadership development, urban gardening, housing justice, and confronting Islamophobia that AFSC is doing in the South Region. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “There comes a time when silence is betrayal, and that time is now!”
- Anyango Reggy
South Associate Regional Director