Ask an Activist: Irving Allen
Think of a time when you experienced an incident that stuck with you, that moved you, or troubled you. Perhaps you saw someone being treated unfairly. You disagreed with laws that denied someone the right to vote. You noticed garbage in your neighborhood piling up. And you thought, “I should do something!” Many of us have these thoughts, yet we don't take action. Fortunately, there are some rising stars among us who are passionate about issues facing our community and who are taking action. They hear the call, heed the challenge, and do something!
We invite you to learn about and be inspired by these individuals and their work.
Meet Irving Allen, Voting Rights Activist & Organizer
What first inspired you to become an activist?
I consider myself an organizer as opposed to an activist. My inspiration comes from my family and my faith. My father was a civil rights attorney and the first Black Superior Court Judge in NC; before becoming a pastor. My uncle was David Richmond, one of “the A&T Four,” who sparked the sit-in movement of the 1960s. My sister was class president of Dudley High School in 2002 and helped organize the preservation of Dudley as a historical landmark in Greensboro. Movement work and organizing have a part of my life since I was born and I am honored to carry on the tradition!
Can you tell us about your experience with Fellowship of Reconciliation?
I was introduced to Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) in 2013 when I was selected to attend the Samuel Dewitt Proctor Conference as a part of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. There, I learned of the rich history of the organization and became interested in helping to carry on the tradition of working for justice and equality. From that point on I have received training, support, and connections as well as participated in freedom rides, speaking engagements, and other social justice events. I now sit on the national council of FOR and consider them one of the premier social justice organizations in the world.
If you could change one law in the state of NC right now, what would it be and why?
If I could change one law in NC, I would change the law that prohibits cities from granting subpoena power to boards and commissions. If changed, this law would allow for civilian review boards to have the power they need to properly hold police departments accountable to the communities they serve.
What inspired you to launch GSO Voting Voices, and can you tell us about the organization?
GSO Voting Voices (GSOVV) was started in 2013 as a part of the Beloved Community Center’s Get Out The Vote (GOTV) campaign. We were looking for a way to energize the youth vote and engage the community at large in new and exciting ways. By using social media to educate and inform the public we saw an increase in the overall voter turnout of the districts we focused in and an increase in the amount of interactions with our target voters. GSOVV has been a successful tool and is growing across the state with a new chapter set to open in Durham at North Carolina Central University in the fall.
About Irving Allen
Irving Allen is a community organizer at the Beloved Community Center in Greensboro and Triad Coordinator for Ignite NC. He has worked to build community and youth coalitions both in Greensboro and throughout the state of North Carolina. He is also working to train North Carolina's next generation of activist as the Fellowship Coordinator of Ignite NC. Irving has played an intricate role in organizing initiatives such as the Citizens Review Board, addressing police accountability in Greensboro, as well as the Teens Downtown youth program. Most recently, Irving has launched GSO Voting Voices, an organization aimed at providing the greater Greensboro community of social justice and civic engagement information. Irving also serves as the Communications Chair for the Greensboro NAACP chapter, National Council member for the Fellowship Of Reconciliation, Member of the Freedom Side Network, appointed to the Youth Advisory Board for the city of Greensboro, and is the Youth Director of Shiloh Baptist Church, Youth and Student Coalition for Police Accountability (Y.S.C.P.A.), Guilford Votes, and sits on the planning committees for Piedmont Together and The Wild Goose Festival.