Lexi Lee-Johnson

“Be at the table.”

If I had a dollar for every time I heard my mom say this, I would be a rich woman.

My mom is the definition of “be at the table.” She shows up to everything – community meetings, support groups, you name it. She runs a neighborhood center and is on more boards than I can count. When she walks into a room in north Minneapolis, people know who she is and they know that her voice matters.

By extension, when I walk into a room in north Minneapolis, people know who I am. I am working on making sure that my voice matters as much as hers. It has been a deeply meaningful part of my life, to uphold her legacy. It is something I take extremely seriously. It has been no low bar to meet.

My mom has instilled in me a deep belief that participation is the key to building community – that we must be there for each other and love each other in order to better not only ourselves, but the world we live in.

Since a young age, I have known that in order to contribute like my mom has, I have to seize the opportunities in front of me, no matter how scary or new they are. I have to take leaps of faith. It started when I signed up for KIPP. I can still vividly remember the day that the founder of KIPP in Minnesota came to my house, sat on my couch, and convinced me to take a chance on a school that promised a path to college.

I have kept on taking leaps of faith. It seems to be a recurring theme in my life. I’m continuing that as I’ve moved across the country to Jackson State University in Mississippi to start as a freshman this fall. There, I hope to continue to learn and grow so that I can “be at the table” in every way – and so I can come back to north Minneapolis, walk into a room, and make my mom proud.

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