In 1959, we were one of the first black families to move into Chicago’s Westside Lawndale community, then predominantly Caucasian. By 1960, “white flight” was turning the Westside into a black ghetto. In 1966, Martin Luther King brought attention to the poor housing conditions in our community, which was destroyed by riots following King’s 1968 assassination. That summer, I was twelve and went door to door with a petition asking my riot-weary neighbors to save the Alaskan baby seals. I wrote a letter to President Nixon telling him, “In America we are a rainbow which should not only bring us together as a people but help us save the baby seals.”
With the spirit of my grandfather, I’ve focused my career on ending hunger and helping ensure that people everywhere can feed themselves.
Ertharin Cousin is the Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Program