Three Questions with Quentin James

Authors: simonkim

Green For All recently hired Quentin James as its new Political Aide to the CEO. Quentin is a rising star in his own right, and we thought you would like the chance to get to know him a little bit. We had the chance to ask him a few questions about himself, and his answers were very interesting.

Q. What's your background? What did you do before you joined Green For All?

A. Most of my work has been centered around civil rights. I've been involved with the NAACP since I was 15. That has really provided the foundation for my advocacy and activism, and I now sit on the NAACP's National Board of Directors.

In 2007 and 2008, I worked for Obama for America, trying (successfully!) to get Barack Obama elected to the White House. It was, quite simply, the most transformative experience of my life. I began working on the campaign in March 2007. Seeing it grow into what it did, from where we started in South Carolina, was simply incredible. I served as a Field Organizer in the upstate of South Carolina and as the Deputy Youth Vote Director in Ohio. Those months of campaign experience taught me that true grassroots organizing can empower people to change the world. That is the ultimate purpose of the work we do.

When I was younger, I also with a group called Rage Against the Haze, South Carolina's teen anti-tobacco movement. When the state began experiencing budget shortfalls, funding for the program got cut. But Rage (as we called it) was a grassroots effort, and the network we had built continued to grow even without funding for large convenings. Ultimately, we managed to decrease the teen smoking rate by around 15%.

Just before joining Green For All, I worked on Capitol Hill for Representative Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick.

Q. What brought you to Green For All? How does your work here relate to your work with the NAACP?

A. Communities of color suffer the worst impacts of our environmental problems but are the least represented communities within the environmental movement. The NAACP has long been the beacon for civil rights in the United States, but Green For All can lead the civil rights community by bringing equity and justice into the climate and energy debates. That's why I came to Green For All. To lead both the country and the civil rights movement towards a green, equitable future.

Q. What are you most excited about as you start this new position?

A. I'm really excited about what Green For All can do for the communities that have been hit the hardest by the recession. In Washington, a lot of people talk about "change" and about improving American cities. Green For All is becoming the bridge between that rhetoric and reality, between the words of politicians and the lives of everyday Americans. That is tremendously exciting.

As a proud Howard University Bison, I am excited to see Green For All's new College Ambassadors program, which specifically targets historically black colleges and universities, develop. I think the program can do a lot of great work on these campuses, making sure students are educated on these issues and know how to advocate for stronger policies on campus and off campus.

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