40 Change Makers: Jasmine Bowden

This interview has been shortened and condensed for clarity.

Jasmine’s enthusiasm and passion for educating and organizing marginalized people is infectious. To hear her talk about her work, you can’t help but want to get involved. 

“I’m not an introvert. I love engaging people,” Jasmine said. “There’s not a stranger I haven’t met. You know?” 

Jasmine used her ability to engage others as an organizer, canvasser, educator, and mobilizer with AVP. 

As a 51-year-old Puerto Rican and Cuban Afro-Latina from the Bronx, Jasmine knows how to meet people where they are. Jasmine implores people to get involved in whatever way they can. We discussed her tactics and how she got involved with AVP.

When and how did you first learn about AVP? 

When I first joined AVP, I was being abused by my partner and living with family. I went to them and they got me out of the situation into a battered women’s shelter that they had a connection with.

What moved/inspired you to engage us and our work?

AVP was very thoughtful. They were very compassionate. And as far as my going through the turmoil I was going through—being physically and especially psychologically abused by someone that I loved and I thought that loved me—It’s like the answers were already in me. I just needed my self-esteem to come back up. And AVP was there to help me in that process. 

What are some of your crucial learnings from your time there?

Being an organizer is like agitating really. I’m agitating people to get them more involved. 

So agitation with a cause like AVP is educating about hate violence response and prevention initiatives, taking a clipboard and having conversations in the street with people, canvassing.

I love just working and mobilizing, rallying people, especially when there’s a message that’s going to make someone’s life better, or to give them information where they can make their own decisions. 

Why do you continue to do what you do?

It’s rewarding when you provide someone with education that can enhance their life;  when they’re able to make their own decisions. I love to knock on those people’s doors to have a conversation. It’s always about just having an opportunity to have a conversation with someone. If you could just move one person, then that person could probably move someone else. And those are people that you mobilize, and you organize. 

You win some, you lose some. But it’s rewarding, and you meet great people along the way, and we learn from each other and see how people can come together for the same cause. 

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