On Friday, May 27, the staff at Faith in Texas sent a message to constituents and social media followers: they were taking a week off for a sabbatical. Just to breathe after weeks of working overtime during the pandemic, during which their main mission had been helping those incarcerated to be released to social distance safely at home.
But once evening fell, staffers began getting alerts that protests were starting in Dallas. “We were already planning to show up just as individuals because it’s important to note that a majority of us are Black,” says Akilah Wallace, executive director of Faith in Texas, a nonpartisan, multi-racial, and multi-faith grassroots movement based in Dallas.
Their involvement as a group, however, was imminent.
When protesters began getting arrested, a tweet went out asking if anyone knew of a local bail fund. As fate would have it, Faith in Texas had just done a soft launch for the web page of its Luke 4:18 Bail Fund, a new component of their prison reform work. A reply to the tweet went out that linked directly to the Faith in Texas fund.
“That call to action set off a firestorm. By Saturday morning, I had to call a meeting as soon as I woke up with my communication and organizing directors, both Black people. We said, ‘Oh, this is something else.’ People had been making donations—ranging from $5 to $1,000—all through the night,” recalls Wallace, Young Black & Giving Back Institute’s 2019 Philanthropist of the Year. “The community was calling us to another level of responsibility to bail out those who were being arrested during Dallas protests. We had to answer that call.” …
The Faith in Texas staff still hasn’t taken that sabbatical, though they have gotten some scattered breaks here and there. The massive scaling of their organization and increase in donation attention has opened up opportunities to hire more staff members, as well as organizers who can help spread their work to Collin and Tarrant County. “We want to be able to hire those who have been volunteering,” Wallace adds. “And provided a livable wage and benefits, especially during a pandemic.”
Excerpted from Paper City Magazine. Read the full article here.