By Nan Price, Content Manager, MetroHartford Alliance
Hartford resident Krystina Jackson recently received her Master of Social Work from the University of Connecticut and has been involved with Public Policy, Human Rights, Racial Equity, and Abolition through several local organizations.
KRYSTINA JACKSON: When my father’s side of the family came to Connecticut, Hartford is where they established. My grandma, aunts, and uncles still live in Hartford. It has one of the biggest Jamaican populations.
I grew up in Hartford, Bloomfield, and Windsor. I chose to move from Windsor to Hartford as a young adult to learn more about the community my father grew up with and learn more about the people in Hartford and the Jamaican community, especially on the North End.
HOW HAVE YOU BECOME PART OF HARTFORD?
KRYSTINA: I have a lot of love for Hartford—860 is where I grew up and what I represent. I see the community in all the areas of Hartford and how strong it is. Since I’ve been getting into the organizing scene and going to events, I’ve been learning more about injustices that have taken place in our community, which has brought me closer to the Hartford people.
That’s what made me want to live here, to experience things myself and make new connections I didn’t have before to I could find ways to get involved and help with my community.
HOW HAS HARTFORD BECOME A PART OF WHO YOU ARE?
KRYSTINA: It has a lot to do with my organizing experience on the ground, which started with my internship at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). I worked on the Smart Justice campaign under Criminal Justice Organizer Sandy LoMonico in the beginning stages. I also got involved with the Obama Foundation’s Community Leadership Corps, which is where I connected with Chris Duffy, who was recently named President and CEO of Leadership Greater Hartford.
My interests and passion lie in dismantling interlocking systems of oppression. And I see criminal justice reform and policing as a huge system that has oppressed people in Hartford. Much of my work is dedicated to alleviating a lot of those stressors.
With my internship at the ACLU, I organized rallies and I went to a lot of roundtable discussions and events on racism and what it means to be Black and Brown and Hartford. I also did a lot of one-on-ones with the Obama Foundation and talked to random community members about how they felt about what was going on in Hartford—whether they felt safe in Hartford and if they felt like the police were serving them.
Whether I have a job or not, community involvement is something I do in my career and in my personal time. I’m passionate about things like understanding why Kamora Herrington opened Kamora’s Cultural Corner, a cultural center on Albany Avenue. It’s because she’s been here for a long time and she’s a community leader because of what she’s seen and how she has used her voice to talk on behalf of people who have not been asked their opinion before. Those are the types of things that spark my interest in being a part of Hartford.
WHAT DO YOU SEE FOR THE FUTURE OF HARTFORD—AND HOW CAN YOUR VOICE HELP CREATE CHANGE?
KRYSTINA: I see a lot of young people being more civically engaged and more active in their community. These young people really inspire me because of how bold they are to speak up. I definitely see a future where the youth takes the power in their hands and uses unity as a force.
I’m confident that, as we get more people educated and we empower more Black and Brown voices, they’ll feel more inclined to speak truth to power and engage at the Capitol.
In terms of using my voice, I’ve had internships in the Legislative Office Building with New Haven representative Toni Walker and I’ve been a mental health professional for the Behavioral Health Unit at Saint Francis Hospital, so I’ve had experience both with the clinical side, talking to folks just one-on-one about their experiences. I’ve also experienced community organizing—building power and building community with one another. Through my internship at the United Nations, I’ve also had a lot of experience with the policy side of things. I want to continue to show up and use my voice to make positive change in our community.