She’s a #Firestarter Who Won’t Back Down
A #Firestarter is someone who is resilient, has a sense of purpose and doesn’t back down. They are a goal digger, and most importantly, they are people who get things done. This is exactly how I would describe Brooke Lopez of Wylie, Texas. Brooke’s story is one of pain, courage, and inspiration.
By the time Brooke was 15, she had witnessed the murder of two classmates. Wiley is home to about 50,000, and the murders sent shock waves through the community. Both victims were Hispanic males and were killed over a girl.
What was heartbreaking to Lopez was that the lives of Nahum Martinez and Ivan Mejia were never celebrated. The town lacked many people of color and a desire to talk about the issue. They were in complete denial that there was a problem. Brooke sought to find a solution and launched a non-profit that gave students a platform to give back to their community. They began 5k races with proceeds funding a scholarship in honor of one of the slain Latinx teenagers.
The Call for Something Greater
Brooke turned to public policy for a solution and asked her congressional members to pass a law that would ensure juveniles who committed capital murder would not be allowed to have sealed records. This would prevent them from getting guns later in life and potentially killing another person. At the time, this proposed law was seen as a gun control measure, which kept it from gaining traction. Brooke, now a law student at the University of North Texas at Dallas, recently learned that someone completed the task through an amendment. If you’re the person who was responsible, she thanks you and wants to meet you.
But then Brooke shut the non-profit down because she realized she was called to do something else. You see, she is a leader who turned a moment into a movement and decided to run for office at the age of eighteen. Brooke thought this would be an opportunity for the community to come together to see that the students wanted a change. Unfortunately, Brooke began to be targeted by adults who were not ready for change and were not ready for a Latina to lead.
Brooke intended to hit the campaign trail to discuss environmental issues and measured economic growth. #Firestarters, did you know what measures economic growth was at the age of 18? I sure didn’t. Rather than see Brooke as the inspiring, courageous young leader she was, adults instead decided to harass her at political forums. Brooke recalls attending a forum where a now former city councilmember pulled her aside to inform her that she was “too brown to represent the community.” Others would say she was running for office on behalf of her parents. Some even went as far as saying she was using her body to get votes.
Where others might have given up, Brooke launched a second passion project. The mission of Lone Star Parity Project is to serve as a non-partisan online publication dedicated to sharing the stories of women and femmes involved in Texas politics. The ultimate goal is to bring gender parity to all levels of public office.
In May, I spoke to a program called NEW Leadership™ Texas, which brings college women from across the political spectrum to the University of Texas at Austin campus each year to discuss the roles of women in leadership and politics.
The program exposes participants to new ideas and opportunities as they consider their future careers. This program exists all across the country and is shaping the lives of participants. Lopez reached out to me after my presentation asking if the Lone Star Parity Project could write a story about me. I must admit, I googled her before writing back (which is something I rarely do) and had a fangirl moment. She’s the type of girl I wish I was at 18. It’s truly an honor to share her story with you because I know she will not only inspire others for generations to come but that one day I will get to cast a ballot for her. You’re such a #Firestarter Brooke Lopez, and the #MovementMakerTribe salutes you.
Author’s Note: Be on the lookout for a second story about the Lone Star Parity Project. I’ll soon interview Brooke’s co-founder Adrianna Mayberry, and I can’t wait!