From clean energy to ethnic diversity, Erica Williams aims to advocate on the issues that Americans under the age of 30 care about. In her new position as deputy director of Progress 2050, a project based in a D.C. think tank, Center for American Progress, Williams seeks to create venues to discuss and project an honest, inclusive image of America’s racial and ethnic diversity.
Erica Williams is making history … by representing the underrepresented population in politics. With the media maligning Millennials — recent New York Times articles have referred to the group as “the Why-Worry Generation” and “young invincibles,” due to their lack of jobs and health care — Williams is setting the record straight. This young politico started with Campus Progress in 2008, where she focused on youth-driven issues like economic mobility and health care with a network of 50,000 Millennial advocates. To counter this media-rampant image of ambivalent post-grads hiding out in their parents’ basements, Williams distributed Flip video cameras to document the Millennial take on the health care debate, and then sent the tapes to Congress – letting young people speak for themselves.
Her creative strategic planning and commitment to progressive issues brought her to Progress 2050, a DC program centered on harnessing the energy of America’s diverse populace to promote innovative policy possibilities — focusing on the youth and minority vote, a group largely absent from the most recent midterm elections, to effect change. Williams is tapping and developing new leaders from these communities to support initiatives and lead discussions on controversial topics at the intersection of race, class, age, and gender. For instance, Progress 2050’s December event, Separate and Unequal: The Hyde Amendment as a Civil Rights Issue, addressed health care reform’s Hyde Amendment as an affront to impoverished women since it prohibits Medicaid from covering abortion care in almost all circumstances.
What’s next for Erica?
Listed as one of Politico.com’s 2008 top 50 Politicos to watch, Williams speaks out on the topics that matter to her. Just this January, she participated in Choice USA’s event “We Are the Champions!” to provide an educated debate on reproductive justice with five other young activists. In addition to her work with Progress 2050, Williams frequently contributes to the Huffington Post and CNN.
In her own words …
“I wish the generation now would realize how much actual power we do have,” Williams told NBC Washington blog, NiteSide, in 2010. “Not only when we show up to vote, but also in our daily life. We’re progressive, more tolerant, and more diverse than past generations. All of that shows how much power we have to change this country and turn it into something we’ve never seen before.”
A little-known fact …
According to the Census Bureau’s current projections, America will become a nation with no clear racial or ethnic majority by the year 2050.
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