“Hello my name is Rev. Joyce Cooksey-James, and my vision is for communities to come together—to communicate—so we may connect and make a difference.”
Joyce Cooksey-James has a lot of energy, and she’s putting it to good use.
At age 14, she had her first experience with politics. In Detroit at the time, she helped a during an election campaign. Then at 22, she began helping neighborhood housing complexes. But her life took a strong turn toward civic engagement in June 2011, when she was randomly chosen for California’s historic statewide deliberative poll. At “What’s Next CA,” she says she become more focused on what she needed to do.
Next CA “caused me to reevaluate what we’re telling our young people about the process of being involved in government,” Cooksey-James said.
Right now, she’s working on two major projects. One of them is educating young people about the importance of voting.
“I’m a pastor in Vallejo at Impact Bible Ministries, and for several weekends, we’ve held voter registration drives. We’re passing the information to our youth—getting them involved in politics—helping them understand the issues instead of voting for someone because they like their personalities.”
Project number two? Helping her friend extend a current program in low income areas of Sacramento.
“We want to help those communities become communities—provide after school tutorial programs, food, ministry, clothing—but also get them engaged in the political process by registering them to vote and emphasize to them that not voting will affect their lives.”
It’s a lot of work, but Cooksey-James is up to the challenge.
“I’m leaving a legacy,” she said. “I’ve got seven grandkids, five kids and a whole host of other people I’m connected to. I see gaps in the community, and I want to leave a legacy for these folks—this is what motivates me to bring everyone together.”