In the Spotlight



BY JEN OLENICZAK BROWN

Miranda Jones
What makes you YOU?

My fiery unapologetic passion makes me, me. I admit that I am not the most learned and scholarly amongst my peers, whether it’s as an educator or a community organizer. I used to feel such shame about that, but then I realized that I am compelled to do what I do from a high calling. I realized that I don’t need the alphabet soup behind my name to do the work, and I’ll go with or without the crowd. I also realized that I couldn’t silent about the things that bother me even if it costs me. There’s an abiding sense of right and wrong in the world, and I feel that I have an obligation to do something. I couldn’t keep quiet if I tried. Like the prophet Jeremiah said, “It’s like fire shut up in my bones.” I like to tell people, I’m still the fat kid sitting in the window of the Kimberly Park Boston projects asking God how to change the world and weeping at the same time. I grew into a black woman who wants to change the world.

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of teaching liberation pedagogy to black and brown children. I am proud of not only being able to teach them in word, but also in deed by way of my community work that they hear about and sometimes inquire about. When they come back and “Sister, I am an activist” or they ask, “What can I do about [insert some injustice]?” that makes my heart swell. That is the apex of what I do and why I do the things I do. I hope many of them can say they were/are proud to have me as their teacher. Ultimately I am proud of the children I’ve been able to set on a journey to change the world.

What keeps you going when things are tough?

My radical faith in God and my grandmother’s words. In 2017, when she was declining due to dementia, I went to visit her. She was eating and I was telling her about some recent travail I was dealing with, hoping it would somehow get through to her on a spiritual level. She stopped eating her steak fries, looked at me and said, “You gotta big mouth but God’s got a plan” and then slouched back into her chair.  That and remembering her deep love for me reminds me that I can conquer mountains.

What keeps you up at night?

How to propel my activist work for social change stays with me. How to change policy and laws. How to empower other sisters. Naysayers…if I’m being honest. My children…my beautiful black students. God talking…when he speaks, I listen. Well, sometimes.

Jennifer Bibb
What makes you YOU?
I wouldn’t be me without my husband Tim and my 3 children Timothy, London and Judah. I also couldn’t be me if I wasn’t fighting injustice or serving in some way in the community. I am truly passionate about social injustice and doing community ministry. One of the purest ministries I’m involved in right now is Streetlight in which we serve women exotic dancers around the city. COVID has put this ministry on hold but for over five years I have served in with Streetlight and met and created relationships with many women.
What are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of the life I’ve created over the last two years since graduating college and beginning my career. After graduating college and being a SAHM for over fifteen years, I entered the work force. I currently work in the mental health field, and I also have a wellness program in which I coach men and women and help them with inner healing. My husband and I are also Symbsis trained marriage counselors. We assist couples with premarital counseling and assist couples that are already married.  We hosted our first ever marriage conference this year and it was awesome!
What keeps you going when things are tough?
My faith keeps me going! I know it sounds cliché but for me it’s not. I’ve had to truly reframe my faith in a way that helped me escape religious dogma and find an authentic relationship with Christ. My husband and I pastored a church in town for six years, and we merged our congregation with another church in town January 2019. I learned so much about my faith during those six years.
What keeps you up at night?

In my most transparent truth, currently it’s racism and how I make sure I’m doing my part in fighting the battle to end it. I honestly haven’t slept well since viewing a small clip of the video of George Floyd’s murder. This current racial uproar has me deep in thought most days and I am truly passionate about ending racism in the church by teaching people the history of the American churches’ complicity with it.

 

 


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