Honoring Andre, Our Members, and Our Work

Written By Staff Writer Jackie Byers 

This month BOP was pleased to award one of our members Donna Anderson with the “Andre Rawlins Service Award”. It is an honor that is given annually to a member that exemplifies deep service to BOP and the community. Honorees put in the most volunteer hours in the year and show an amazing willingness to step up and support the organization in any role and do whatever is necessary to serve our community and vision.

Andre was a founding member of BOP who died suddenly at 35. He was born and raised in Oakland and a graduate of Castlemont High-School. Andre was a committed member of his church, Center of Grace Ministries in Oakland. His spirit of love and his dedication to outreach was unceasing. Even after experiencing a stroke that impacted his mobility, he found his way to BOP 30 hours a week doing outreach, phone banking, attending meetings, developing leaders and helping in every way he could.

People like Andre won’t be on the cover of a magazine or interviewed on CNN. He was never asked to speak on panels or be interviewed by the press.  Andre didn’t have a million followers on twitter or a strong social media presence. Yet its people like Andre  that move the ground. They are the people that do whatever their hands find to do without ego or   fan fare. They are the transformers of our conditions.They are the leaders who lead with service. Andre is an example of the type of leadership and membership that we honor at BOP. His humility, his love and his willingness to learn– the ability to trust and follow leadership. Andre lived and died doing what he was called to do.

We are in a critical time in our movement where narcism, individuality, ego and surface activism threaten our ability to significantly carry us towards liberation. Our romanticism with ourselves, the culture of self promotion and the seduction of the spotlight  may be more of a threat to us than external forces.  The charisma of individual leadership is often rewarded within our communities and supported and resourced externally. We lift up examples like Andre to promote the principles and values that he represents.  Hopefully we can continue to honor the many unsung, everyday heroes around us and in our midst. The momma who takes 2 buses to get to a meeting to fight for not only her children but other people’s children. The young person who doesn’t say a lot, but works everyday to organize other students in their school while working a part-time job to help their family. The elder who still has so much to give and yet, is still willing to learn and the daddy who came to our office everyday for  2 years to ask what we need help with, because he knew that  his liberation was connected to the liberation of our community. These humble leaders in our communities are who we fight for, who we look towards, and who we honor.