allie-big.JPG

Allie Cohn

Knoxville TN

Slacktivist turned Activist. Southern Mama. Teacher

 

Hey Y’all! I’m Allie.  I was born and raised in Atlanta, GA and have lived in 9 different states since graduating from high school.  I am a southerner at heart and was glad to make my way back after living in the Northeast, Midwest and Southwest regions. I moved to Tennessee last August after living in North Florida for 10 years. 

I have spent the last 12 years teaching students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Pre-K through 12th grade in a variety of settings. I have spent most of my adult life working with kids, families and social service providers. I am also a mom to 3 sons, ages 10, 16 and 17.

I describe myself as a “slacktivist turned activist” because a major shift happened in my life when Bernie Sanders announced his candidacy for President.  As a teacher, I had been an activist for my students, for Deaf Education, but I had not been one in the political arena. I realized that what I interpreted as engagement was, in hindsight, actually lackadaisical involvement; sideline actions with a lack of intention.  I had protested. I had signed petitions. But activism involves real work and commitment.  It involves a long-term vision and sustained effort.  It means planning, and organizing and showing up, even when no one’s looking.  I had experienced this many times with my students, advocating for necessary equipment, interpreters, note takers, parent education and parent involvement. I realized I had been an active organizer in that space but Bernie was the impetus for transforming my activism onto a broader spectrum.

I am still learning.  I am still seeking and I am intentionally engaged in a way that feels daunting at times because I am constantly reminded of all that I did not see before, while looking through the lens that I currently have.

I moved to Tennessee the week after the Democratic National Convention, where I very proudly served as national delegate for Bernie Sanders. Within a week of moving to Knoxville I was invited to my local DSA meeting to speak about my convention experience. When I walked through that door, almost a year ago, it felt like coming home.  I was sitting in a circle surrounded by people having deep discussion about the issues I care about.

We talk about education, the diversity of the South, the challenges of living in a red state, living in a small city that is surrounded by rural Appalachia, anti-privatization, 287(g).  I care about a society where all people have a voice in the choices and relationships affecting their lives.

Bernie highlighted for me how important involvement is from where we are; we are where our feet are.  Though new to Knoxville, I became involved in my community.  I currently serve on the Executive Committee for the Knox County Democratic Party where I am also chair of the KCDP Progressive Action Committee.

I was involved in organizing and sustaining a weekly #NoDAPL solidarity circle that lasted for 20 weeks.  We organized divestment actions at our local SunTrust bank branches and gathered supplies for people to deliver to Standing Rock.  I am currently involved in educating our community about the outsourcing and privatization that will affect our campus’ facilities workers, a contract our governor signed via executive order without transparency of any kind. Our local DSA chapter has been instrumental in writing letters to the editor and supporting actions with our local unions.

The times are changing and so am I. Bernie Sanders pushed me to get involved locally. Now I want to take my work to the national level and give small and rural chapters a voice on the NPC. 

I believe that we need big changes, but we have to meet people where they are first. 

I am committed to help DSA grow in red states, in the South and as a whole. I am very proud to be a part of Praxis and running for the NPC.  

I am here in #Yallidarity to help #OrganizeTheSouth!