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The Agitators and the Politicians Who Need Them

By Domo Warren
Guest Column

In our democracy, one thing that we can observe is that change is slow and progress can sit at a standstill. The speed of change, or lack thereof, can be frustrating for marginalized groups because their lives depend on the evolution of a country’s morals, policies and culture to create avenues for a better life.

Some of us question how a society that has such wealth and innovation seem to forget or pass over helping so many people. People who understand economic, political and social power structures know that people with privilege, whether their privilege is by race, income, gender or sexuality, will fight hard to not give up their perceived place in society. Prejudice and –isms are the weapons that influential people use to hold onto the status quo.

Domo Warren


Progress can’t exist in this vacuum because the powerful are too busy holding on to power instead of effecting real change for the many who need it. This is why systems need to be disrupted, shaken and, at times. replaced.


The existence of the agitator for our country, state and the city is required now more than ever. I would argue that even political leaders need these activists to create a space where political courage can overcome their eagerness to stay in safe, political stances.


Agitators are the ones we see leading our social and political movements. They fight against those injustices that seek to oppress and limit the ability of people to live and love as well as work to establish an equitable society.


In Toledo, we see agitators make a difference with the fight to save Obamacare, the Code of Conduct signed by the Black and Brown Coalition with the Toledo Police, and the community movement to stop Patrick Hickey from sitting on the Washington Local School Board.


These advocates sought to preserve quality healthcare, to force police to be responsive to community needs and to stop sexual predators and abusers from serving in leadership. Groups such as Indivisible Toledo, the Community Solidarity Response Network, teacher unions and many others agitated leadership by protesting at public gatherings, shutting down meetings, and launching digital campaigns to get their message across to protect the marginalized.


What agitation does is give political leaders not just motivation, but space to create change. By giving issues momentum and organizing on the ground to change policies and structures, activists empower politicians to develop solutions to complex problems.


We saw in the last mayoral election how clean-water activists such as Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie called Paula Hicks-Hudson to task for not supporting an impairment designation from the EPA in a timely fashion. This stance weakened the overall perception of her as a leader who was willing to make sure our water source was safe.

Leaders who are perceived to be responsive to issues that are at the forefront of a community gain support and those who don’t, lose their jobs.


So, when you see agitators causing disruptions, activists speaking truth to power, and advocates fighting for the marginalized, know that they are an essential part of the political process and societal change.


“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle” are the words of an agitator named Martin Luther King, Jr. May our champions of the marginalized continue to do the politically unpopular to make the politically difficult, easier.



Dominique “Domo” Warren is an educator, coach, writer, staffer in the United States Senate, and political strategist as well as a native of Toledo, Ohio. He can be reached at domowarren.com and on facebook/twitter/Instagram @domowarren.


Copyright © 2018 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 08/16/18 14:12:10 -0700.

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