From Texas, DeAnda Williams was a member of the original group of 15 debt strikers that took on the Department of Education - and won! Her interview is below:
Looking back, can you talk a little bit about what you have learned as an organizer over the last few years? You could talk about what you've learned about yourself, how you have grown or struggled personally or what you learned about our political system while campaigning. : What I have learned being an organizer is when it comes to going up against fraud especially when the government is involved such as student loans you have more power in numbers than trying to fight it by yourself. You have to stay consistent. I have learned that our political system is full of fraud which made it an even harder task because so many politicians had their hands in the cookie jar. The fight seemed long and never ending. It was very stressful.
What does your family think about the organizing work you have done to help win over $600 million in relief for people across the US? : My family stood beside me. They thought it was totally awesome that we were able to get relief. They didn’t think it was fair that we had to fight as hard as we did but was as thrilled as I was that the discharges finally happened and we were finally getting the relief we deserved.
Please tell me about what being an leader and activist has meant to you? : Being a activist and a leader has meant a lot to me. Even though I wasn’t able to do as much as some have such as going to Washington, I was able to help guide others in the right direction and help in other ways. I have also gotten to know some incredible people.
Have you thought about how other debts that you (your family or friends) struggle with are linked? Housing, medical, education debt, payday loans etc.? : Oh yes! I think it’s all linked. Somebody somewhere is in the middle of it all.
Tell me what makes you feel strong? What inspires you? : My strength comes from staying positive and knowing I can.
What are qualities of others that move you or motivate you to continue to work like this? : Knowing somebody who has done this before standing beside you and supporting you is what motivates me.