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Conversations with Davona Watson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Davona Watson.

Hi Davona, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
Hello, I’m a South Central native born and raised. I’ve been a community organizer for ten years now and am a recent college graduate with a Bachelors in Pan African Studies, Anthropology and Political Science. In terms of the work I do, I didn’t necessarily grow up with revolutionary leaders and thought. But that never deterred me from following and developing an ideology for myself by learning of the historic leaders who paved the way for me. My community organizing has made me into the person I am today; a critical thinker, revolutionary organizer, holistic healer, dancer, farmer and aspiring Cultural Anthropologist and or Civil Rights Attorney.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It has not been a smooth road at all. But, my challenges and obstacles in life always move me in a manner that allows me to consider the well-being of others. Or rather to create solutions and preventative measures to common challenges/hardships. I learned early on that no matter my situation, I’m always in a position to inspire change. To mention the least of my challenges, my family’s experience being homeless, food insecure and impacted by the criminal injustice system led me to create a scholarship foundation in 2015. I use this program as a way to fundraise and provide financial and educational assistance to those in need (not just college students). Since then, I have continued to organize in South & East LA working in areas or racial, social, educational, food and environmental justice.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
To give a little context, recently my leadership and political advocacy led me to work in spaces such as the United States Congress, California Secretary of State, New York State Assembly and numerous grassroots organizations. Running this foundation on my own, I am pleased to mention I have been honored and awarded by Princeton University, the City of Los Angeles, United Teachers of Los Angeles and local public officials. Much of what I have been focused on over the years is rooted in grassroots organizing, Pan Africanism, social change and cultural persistence. But because of my personal (and community wide) hardships with health, racial inequity, housing and food access, my focus has changed a bit to explore advocacy and public policy (hence the political spaces).

Although not exempt from it due to poverty, I never really expected the social issues I was fighting against to hit so close to home. So as of recently, my scholarship foundation has prioritized community service and mutual aid throughout the past four years. During 2020 alone, I’ve gathered to feed over 30,000 families all while being both housing and food insecure myself. I don’t seek to adequately count all the good deeds that I’ve done but I mention that number because it speaks volumes to the real work that needs to be done in South Central.

One thing I want readers to know about the work I’m currently focused on is that a lot of our major concerns such as homelessness and food insecurity are not going to be solved simply by the act of providing a one time and or frequent resource. Especially if that resource is then inadequate and lacks cultural competency. To that end, we really have to commit ourselves to doing “the work”. And I’ll leave that up to y’all discretion, personal capacity and dedication. But things are going well for our efforts and we’re currently providing emergency preparedness workshops, free supplies, food, herbal medicine etc for South Central.

To be honest, I’m always doing an array of things so please get involved and stay in touch.

We’d be interested to hear your thoughts on luck and what role, if any, you feel it’s played for you?
I distinguished what the world calls “luck” I call a blessing. Distinguishing this has allowed me to prioritize faith and gratitude no matter the circumstance. My initial thoughts are that luck seems to limit our focus on something that somehow happens for us. However, I learned that I always stand in God’s favor and I am open and deserving to receive abundance.

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Image Credits:

Photo with Maxine Waters: Photographer Kai Byrd Photo with white shirt and brown pants: Photographer Kesselly Zumo

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