Our next Glow Sis Feature is a woman who uses her superpowers to change her community. It was a pleasure gaining insight from such an amazing community powerhouse. Thank you Brionté for sharing your story. Be Inspired!
Here at Twisted. Curly. Cool. we believe in the importance of uplifting our community. We uplift and inspire our community through the art of storytelling. We are inspired by your story of activism. Who is Brionté McCorkle? What is her story?
I am a mother, wife, activist, environmentalist, community organizer, millennial, advocate for people, and a supporter of transit, bikes and sidewalks. I am a movement builder who believes that everyone should have access to opportunities to improve their lives for the better.
Growing up, I moved around a lot because my mom served in the Air Force for over 20 years. I moved to Georgia when I was ten and fell in love with the trees. I graduated from Warner Robins High School, attended Ft. Valley State University and then moved to Atlanta to attend Georgia State University. There I earned my degree in Public Policy because I wanted to learn how to make things better for my future and my community.
I have served with United Way as a call center volunteer, ensuring that people got the help they were looking for. I also volunteered with Operation Hope to teach financial skills to children and community members. In 2012, I worked at the Atlanta Regional Commission on water issues. From there, I joined Southface, a nonprofit focused on improving energy and water efficiency in buildings. I now serve as the Assistant Director of the Georgia Chapter of the Sierra Club, the nation’s largest grassroots environmental organization. I work on expanding transit throughout the Atlanta area.
There is a saying that says the best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. Tell us why serving your community is so important to you?
In 2013, I began working on expanding MARTA to Clayton County. This successful effort is my proudest moment. On July 5th, 2014 I sat in the Clayton County Board of Commissioners building along with hundreds of other people waiting to see if the county’s leaders would vote to put MARTA on the ballot. When the commission finally voted in favor of MARTA, everyone in the room celebrated. I had tears in my eyes because I knew this would help make everyone’s lives better. Expanded transit meant access to better schools, jobs, healthcare, recreation, food, housing and more. In that moment, people felt empowered, like they finally had control over their lives and their community. I decided then that I want to spend every day working to empower people and build better communities.
I also have a beautiful two-year old daughter, and she doesn’t deserve to live with the same problems that our generation is facing. That’s why I work so hard to build safer, more inclusive and sustainable communities.
Our communities are in desperate need of leaders. We need people to advocate, to rally, to lobby for us especially in Atlanta. You are on the ground, grassroot level. Can you tell us what do you see as a major threat to our community and what are some ways we can address it?
I believe the biggest threat to our community is lack of engagement. Everyday there are people making decisions that will impact the future of us and our children. Yet far too often these decisions are made without people at the table who are most affected. Healthcare, housing, food security, the environment, safety & policing, transportation, education etc.
These are just a few major issues that elected officials deal with. Still, when I go into public meetings there are few people there asking questions and giving feedback. We ultimately end up with policy that only makes problems worse or creates new problems. People get left out and fall further behind. They feel neglected and unheard. Then, our lawmakers are not held accountable because people don’t make the connection between the problem they are experiencing and the elected official who just voted to approve the change in policy. There are also too many issues for one or a few people to stay on top of which is what most of us are relying on. You know that one activist friend you have that is always protesting? She needs you to come out and protest with her. She needs you to have her back. So, we need to get more people involved in voting and engaging with their current elected officials.
Here at Twisted. Curly. Cool. we thrive on inspiration from others. Who is a part of your village and how do they inspire you to continue the good fight?
I am inspired by people from before my time like Angela Davis, Shirley Chisholm (unbought and unbossed) and even former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson. These people helped pave the way for a young, politically outspoken woman of color like myself. I am also inspired by modern day greats like the Obamas, former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, current Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris and more. I even draw inspiration from actors like Issa Rae, and athletes like Serena Williams. Every day people, my colleagues, my friends. I am genuinely inspired by the stories and experiences of so many. Hearing about the dreams, fears, challenges, opportunities and successes in everyone’s lives is what inspires me. I know I can overcome whatever is ahead, and I want to help everyone else do the same.
I love quotes. A quote that I live by is “Self Esteem is realizing you are the Dream” by Oprah Winfrey. Do you have a favorite quote or saying that empowers you? If so, how do you apply this quote to your journey?
“I’m asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change — but in yours.” – President Obama
You are powerful, do you know that? We all have so much potential. What kind of future would we have if everyone was allowed to express their creativity and skills? If everyone could be healthy, be successful and really thrive? I believe that is a future that we all want to live in: a future that is more inclusive, more sustainable, and more resilient. We get to that future when more people feel empowered to take steps to overcoming the barriers in each of our lives, and to confidently speak up and speak out to move us closer to that future. Your opinions matter, your ideas matter, and there are hundreds of thousands of others who share your struggle. Connect with them, and with a unified message, push forward. We cannot depend on others to do that work. It’s up to each one of us to take small steps and plant small seeds that will blossom into some amazing things.
We want to hear more about you. Are there any future projects our readers should be looking out for? How can our readers contact you for more information?
I’ve come to realize that most successful people work on lots of projects at the same time, so I’ve got lots of pot on the stove! However, the project I am most excited to dig in on is the Empowrd civic engagement app. The way that people interact with their elected leaders is changing. With Trump in the White House, now more than ever people are paying attention to the policy decisions that are being made at the local, state and federal level. They want to understand how it impacts them, and more importantly, they want to hold their representatives accountable to actually representing them.
Unfortunately, most of that is done through anonymous phone calls, tweets and online petitions that don’t really encourage a relationship with your official. Relationships are the most effective thing we can do to influence our decision makers to act in our best interest. I know that one of the main barriers to this is that knowing who represents you and what they are in charge of is complicated. This app makes it incredibly easy for you to find and connect with your elected officials, to keep in touch with what they are doing and the issues and organizations you care about. It is my hope that this app will help connect people with their officials and allow them to weigh in on major decisions more quickly and effectively. We are building something that I believe will be game-changing. If you are an individual or an organization that is interested in experimenting with how this app can help you meet your needs, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
You are such an inspirational woman. Thank you so much for blessing us with your dynamic story. Do you have any final words of inspiration for our readers?
Know what you bring to the table. Find the intersection of what you are good at and what you are passionate about. Then get so good at it that no one can ignore you. You will be able to walk into any room with confidence, quickly gain trust, and be able to leverage that to only work on the projects that are most meaningful and impactful to you… and that pay you the most!