A New Dawn for Harlem
Dawns roots run deep in Harlem. Her great grandmother settled here nearly a century ago like so many others; she had come north from Georgia.
She was a proud black woman with a college education from Atlanta University, where one of her professors was the legendary activist and black intellectual W.E.B. Dubois.
Perhaps it was his inspiration that led her to New York just as the famed Harlem Renaissance bloomed, and where she traveled in circles that included DuBois, Marcus Garvey, and Langston Hughes while she ran a school for girls she had founded at 2042 Fifth Avenue on the corner of 126th Street.
Dawn’s great grandmother married and raised a family, and instilled in her descendants the belief that education was the key to success and something that could never be taken away from you. She understood first-hand that without access to a good education that black community in Harlem would never be truly empowered. Her inspiration has traveled through generations of my family whether you look at my great aunt who, for many years, ran Miss Juanita’s Music School on Strivers Row or my own work as a teacher, educator, and social worker.
Dawn attended colleges and universities as diverse as Bryn Mawr College, John Jay College, and the University of Southern California. She also attended the famed Sorbonne in Paris; and then went on to Columbia University from where she earned her Masters in Social Work.
She has lived in many places throughout her life. Baltimore, Santa Monica, and Paris to name a few. She even lived in the town of Nkenkaasu in central Ghana for 5 years, where she created educational and cultural programs for children. But in the end, she always returned to Harlem, because this is the place of her birth, the place Dawn feels most comfortable; home.
Dawn has never been afraid of hard work or rising to a challenge. Over the course of her adult life she’s filed medical records to a financial analyst at Morgan Stanley. She has also been a substitute teacher in our public schools. She has counseled victims of domestic violence for the Brooklyn D.A.’s office. Through a program run by Columbia University, she counseled New Yorker’s who were HIV positive.
Currently she is a derivatives operation consultant for some of world’s biggest financial institutions, which is a fancy way of saying she makes sure that some of the best known names on Wall Street follow the letter of the law!
She also is understands small business owners, as she also is running a small publishing house that has just released a new book which gives a voice to young Black Americans behind bars; and which will hopefully reach a segment of our youth, serving as a deterrent to that youthful mistake that can lead to a life of incarceration.
This rich family history, her life experiences, and love of Harlem are why she is running to represent you in the New York City Council.
Her father was born in Harlem Hospital and made his living in sales. He was good at what he did, and really understood human nature. He told her at a young age that “the Good Lord gave us two ears, two eyes, and one mouth for a reason; we should look and listen more than we should talk.”
That’s an adage that many Harlem politicians should follow!
For the past half century, many of them have been great at talking up a storm. But if they took the time to look and listen, they would realize they have failed both you and your family, and the 19 year-old hanging on the street corner with a sub-standard education and no prospects of a good job.
Dawn sees that our streets are still dirty. That our community remains under-served, and our children are stilling heading off to prison at an alarming rate.
We can play the blame game; that it’s all racism. We can wallow in despair on how the system is unjust. Or we can get up, stand-up, and bring about real change for our community!
To succeed in a competitive world, our children and their parents need real choices in education. Whether they are traditional public schools, charter schools, or religious based schools. Yes, traditional public schools. That’s because many people don’t fully understand that charter schools are public schools. They are public schools that aren’t run by special interests and faceless bureaucrats, but by parents working together with dedicated educators.
That’s why she’ll fight for more charter schools in Harlem, and for improving traditional public schools, so that they really do educate and give our children the skills they’ll need to succeed.
We need to attract new businesses to Harlem and Northern Manhattan. Create more high paying tech jobs. More opportunities in healthcare and hospitality too. So when our kids graduate, they have good paying jobs in their own community, because after all, there is no social program like a good job!
We also need to foster a spirit of entrepreneurship in our youth, because with an educated work-force and mentoring by New York’s business community, there is no reason why a future Facebook, Uber, or Apple couldn’t be founded by some 9 year old who right now is sitting at the kitchen table in a nearby apartment struggling with his math homework.
We must work together to change how the NYPD views our community, and in turn we need to reappraise how our community reacts to the NYPD. Stop & Frisk needs to become Stop & Talk, it’s that simple.
We need police that will come out of their patrol cars and take the time to Stop & Talk to the community to get to know our business owners and our seniors. And yes, that 19 year old kid hanging outside the corner store.
In other words, we need the old fashioned beat cop who knows the good kid from the not so good kid, and the street clown from the street thug.
The NYPD’s increased interaction with the community will pay-off many times over. Our streets will be safer. Our jobs will be safer. And the lives and future of young black men will be safer.
If we have safe streets and educated work force, then the third component needed for a vibrant community is affordable housing. Affordable means affordable for the young families, the single mothers, and especially the seniors who are being squeezed out by record high rents.
We need increased cooperation by all elected officials to have our government to work closely with neighborhood non-profits, and the private sector, to create the mix of affordable housing that residents of Harlem desperately need and deserve.
By electing Dawn Simmons, you’ll be giving Harlem a real voice on the floor of the City Council. She won’t be beholden to the business as usual politicians or the political clubhouses and special interests that put them in office.
Dawn Simmons will, with your help, your prayers, and your vote, fight for for all of Harlem to create a second Harlem Renaissance for a…
New Dawn for Harlem.