Empowering the North Louisiana Community with Candice Battiste of Power Coalition

Empowering the North Louisiana Community with Candice Battiste of Power Coalition

The Power Coalition is a coalition of community-based organizations who work together to educate and empower voters across Louisiana. Through our voter engagement and community organizing work, we seek to unify our collective voices into a stronger, more cohesive force that can successfully advocate for an agenda of shared values and issues.

Their work is diverse and includes power mapping, listening sessions, organizing, voter engagement, policy advocacy, and leadership development. It is centered on creating spaces where community can come together to lift up the issues that impact them, and then connect those issues to local, regional, and national resources–including the state voter file–to move our shared agenda.

The Coalition is building an integrated civic engagement strategy that amplifies the voices of those who have historically been ignored, and organize them into a unified movement. Might I add, this non-profit was founded by a woman and features a team of game changing women.

One woman in particular working to equip fellow North Louisianans with the knowledge and information they need to find their voice, and learn where and when to use it. This woman is Program Manager, Candice Battiste.

Do you feel like being a woman creates a challenge in your role?
Whenever you are in any role that is still primarily male centered, we deal with politicians, candidates—and while we understand how to view all of that through a racial lens, and also through a sexist lens. It’s very interesting, the change in the conversation dynamics when someone tries to explain the law to me, and I say I get it— I explain to them yes, I went to law school for three years and earned a degree to be able to discuss this with you.

We at the Power Coalition pride ourselves on taking what people know, in theory, what black women can do, and applying it through our work. We face it, but I am happy to say it isn’t as prevalent as it may have been when our founder, Ashley, started the organization. People like her have paved the way. People are becoming more accustomed to seeing women—especially black women doing the work. We’ve been doing the work in communities for decades, but being compensated and acknowledged for the work is new. Misogyny is just a part of the American fabric.

What keeps you going—your why?
My why –just to be frank, I love my people. I will show up for us every day. I truly believe that black liberation is possible. I’m okay with saying that aloud because I know when you take care of the communities that are historically underserved and ignored, that rising tide will lift all votes; it’s not to leave anyone out explicitly. When you make sure they’re taken care of, everything else takes care of itself. I don’t buy into the “trickle down” effect because we’ve seen far too often that we aren’t getting too much trickle of anything.

We have power but we haven’t been allowed to exercise our power. My why is making sure my people know that we have power. My people include all the intersections I am—black people, women, rural people.

What practices do you implement to ensure you get the most of your day?

I am really big on doing a reset each week. I carve out time on Sunday evenings to spend 1-2 hours prioritizing what I need to get done each day throughout the week. I prioritize my top 5 things to accomplish that day—and they are not all work related.

I’ve learned while adulting that to have to take time to take care of yourself. Those are things I also have to include. Five is an arbitrary number I use—somedays I get them all done, some days I don’t. I utilize tech tools like my calendar to schedule in commute time and even breaks.

What advice can you give to women looking to get into political arena?
Understand that you are going to be working with people from all walks of life. Politics is not just about the elected officials—they’re the smallest piece of that pie.

Remember that the work that you do and who you answer to are the voters. It’s their agenda collectively that you keep at the forefront. Understand that it doesn’t always feel good. We celebrate our wins publicly, but those losses are difficult. Be prepared for the L’s and do not eternalize them.

Learn how to celebrate your wins. Take time to pat yourself on the back. Make sure you always acknowledge your team; we don’t reach the finish lines by ourselves. Be sure to express gratitude to the people that keep you going and always show up. Make sure you’re constantly learning—none of us know everything; be open to learning from the most unlikely of sources.

You need to love people. Be okay showing your humanity to people.

If you could mentor your younger self, what would you tell her?
Candice—go look for a woman named Stacy Abrams and learn everything you can from her before she becomes an icon.

You CAN do it and it will all be worth it—the good, the bad, the ugly, it is going to be worth it.

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