So Alex Melnick went to New Mexico. To people who know me, that sort of sounds like a punch line to a joke: I’m notoriously attached to Jackson, MS. I don’t just simply pick up and leave for the weekend, much less somewhere time zones away. But I’m glad I did. I conquered my severe anxiety to stand at the feet of mountains, and I felt simultaneously honored to be there and distressed that I had been missing out on so much of life. When it comes to change, my favorite word is “no.” Ironic for a social activist, I know.

For me, Forward Together’s Strong Families Realizing a Dream (RAD) Youth Coalition wasn’t so much about the issues as it was the incredible, powerful people I met and made connections with. There is a giant, glowing network of amazing humans across this country, and RAD reminded me of that. We are never alone. In every state, in every town, there is someone fighting for equality. Whenever anyone feels hopeless, they should remember that. When we fall down, we will be picked back up. This has been repeated at hundreds of punk shows I’ve attended, and it’s something every person should hear. When you fall, you will be picked back up. When they fall, we will pick them up.

Connecting with RAD was like talking to an old friend, hearing everything I needed to hear. Reassurance. Guidance. Hope. As I got off my plane after a six hour journey, I realized that I was filled with so much hope.  Hope for both myself and for the future.


Alex is a 2013 YP4 Fellow from Jackson, Mississippi