"Graham Will Always Be My Home."
An interview with Amanda, from Down Home Alamance

Can you tell us a little bit about where you live?

Graham is a small town nestled between the bigger metros of Greensboro and Raleigh. We lie in the middle of the Triad and the Triangle. It’s a small town of around 160,000 people. Some would say it looks like it is still in the 1950’s. There is an old courthouse and square filled with quiet sidewalks and small shops. 

It’s a beautiful town filled with some wonderful people. I have been a resident here since I was six years old, although I did some traveling when I was younger, I came back here to raise my family. I attended elementary school through high school here. 

I love the sense of community that this town has, we reach out to each other and help one another. Graham will always be my home. 

Photo by Warren LeMay from Cullowhee, NC, United States, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons. Source here. 

What are some of the things that you believe need to change in your community/hometown?

Graham is a quaint and lovely town, but there are mindsets and attitudes that desperately need to be brought into the 21st century. My county is primarily conservative, and have a disdain for change. We desperately need representatives that work and support all of our citizens. We need better policies and municipal laws that support a fair and equal system for all citizens. As much as I love Graham, there are some major issues with racism and discrimination by our elected officials and criminal justice systems. My neighbors and I can help alleviate some of these issues by getting involved in the process of choosing the right representatives. 

If someone were to ask you why your hometown is important, what would you tell them?

I guess you could ask anyone that question, and it would be a different answer. My hometown is important to me, and it’s important to the citizens that live here. Graham is also seen as a tinderbox for the new Civil Rights movements happening all over the country. There are such stark differences and passions here, that the need to come together is deeper than ever. I would consider Graham on the frontlines of the Racial Equity movement. 

You do a lot with us. Why are you involved in Down Home?

Down Home is Family. I work with Down Home because the people are so genuine, the platforms so bold and inspirational and the momentum so strong that I feel like I make a difference. I feel like Down Home makes an impact in my community, I see how their work helps my neighbors.

Now more than ever we need to organize to demand our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Any one of us can turn on the TV and see the people in power slowly trying to take away the power of the people. 

Down Home helped me to get involved in the process, to learn how to make a difference and it shared the importance of getting others involved as well. As a community, we have to share our resources and help each other, that is how you build rural power.

What Down Home projects or campaigns do you think are particularly important or impactful for your community?

Yes! I am involved with Stop Criminalizing the Poor and the Public Defender/ Cash Bail Removal. I think these are important because they directly affect my community members. Unfortunately there are quite a few low-income members in our community In fact, our median average annual salary is only 33k a year. The cash bail system harasses them even further by causing so much additional damage, for charges that are not considered serious. We must abolish the cash bail system, and rethink the entirety of our criminal justice system as well. Alamance county does not currently have a Public Defender either, and that is another community resource we are trying to push. 

I am also involved with the Platform Committee. I found this working group to be very educational for me. I joined this group for that purpose, I was lacking in the political knowledge that I needed to continue making the changes I wanted to see. So, joining this group taught me so much about Down Home and how member-driven it really is. We discussed what we wanted to see in our communities and the platforms of candidates that we wanted to support. It was a very educational experience for me and I appreciated the time to add my thoughts. This gives Down Home a solid foundation of values going into the next election season, so we can better align with Representatives in our Elections. 

I am also heading up the Communities for Sheriff Accountability with Down Home, partnering with the Trusting Sheriffs Organization to analyze the impact of the Sheriff’s Department on our communities. In this group we are working on analysis of the current Sheriff’s Budget and how that money could be better allocated to serve the community. We are also working on a campaign to challenge the current Sheriff in Alamance in the upcoming 2022 elections. 

Along with those working groups I attend events that help to sponsor candidates that Down Home supports and other working groups such as Medicaid Expansion and Housing. Medicaid Expansion is particularly important to the community members in Alamance, because Healthcare is a human right. Period.

Working with Housing and Eviction issues has opened my eyes more to the redlining and gentrification that is happening to this day in Alamance, which disproportionately affects BIPOC residents.