Grayson Lanza

“During this most recent electoral cycle I got a fulltime job as a field organizer here in Orlando. We were targeting areas where people don’t turn out to vote traditionally, so usually the poorer, disenfranchised communities. My job was to sign people up to vote by mail. The reason we really wanted people to sign up for vote by mail is because you get a ballot in the mail for every election – municipal, state, federal - you will get a ballot. In these communities where people are working a lot, they’re hard workers, they just don’t have time to stay informed. This just makes it much easier because you get a ballot in the mail one month prior to the election.

You can do your research and you can make your vote. This helps us with higher voter turnout. This helps out those communities because they usually don’t get accurate representation; they just can’t turn out and vote the way that they should. I also came to UCF for this past presidential election to do voter registration.

Our precinct rate had a 99 percent turnout, the highest university turnout rate in the state of Florida. I kind of thought I would be done working after the election. Due to how it turned out, I’ve probably become more involved. Now I’m really getting into community organizing, which involves protests yes, but it also involves press conferences, educating the public, reaching out to the community and seeing what they need. It’s necessary work.

Being an activist comes with being a community organizer. I am an activist but my main intention is to organize communities so that they have power in the future and they can stand for what they need. These communities can be ignored and neglected. We have to help them in some way. We try to teach people and get community members involved. Once they’re involved, it’s a snowball effect in that now the community can organize itself, which is what has to happen and what I’ve been a part of. I’ve always been very passionate about real justice and real equality for people. I’m not comfortable with the status quo. Until there’s equality and justice for all, none of us are free.”