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