Jimmie Briggs answers 5 questions from the We Are Human Campaign

I recently had the honor of sitting down with Jimmie Briggs, a documentary storyteller, writer and advocate for racial and gender equity. Over a few cups of mint tea, we discussed everything from our personal histories, overcoming life obstacles, career goals, self-love and his new project in Ferguson, MO. Jimmie’s commanding stature and powerful presence was perfectly complemented by a gentleness, authenticity and compassion that radiated from every word he spoke and gesture he made. It was such a treat to chat with him. Thank you Jimmie for your time, your presence and your candor! 

The Interview

At PACH, our “We Are Human Campaign” poses 5 questions to human beings all over the world that tap into our common humanity and reveal remarkable similarities across difference. We asked Jimmie to answer the following 5 questions. Here’s what he had to say.

How does your work foster a common humanity? 

Through my work, I attempt to always honor the integrity of individual journeys, as well as affirm the common ground, or “humanity,” which links seemingly disparate and conflicting perspectives. As a journalist, and now an advocate, the primary thread running through all of my work is the healing and connecting power of storytelling and sharing. 

What is one of your favorite childhood memories and why? 

One of my favorite childhood memories is flying kites with my father. He and I weren’t terribly close, emotionally, as I grew up but assembling and flying kites was a mutual joy we deeply shared. 

What is one of the best things that has ever happened to you and why? 

One of the best things that has ever happened to me was receiving a kidney from one of my dearest, best friends in August 2014. It meant ending a painful process of dialysis, which I endured for three and a half years. Further, it allowed me to restore my prior health and eventually reach a higher level of well-being, emotionally, physically and spiritually. 

Whom do you trust the most and why? 

The person whom I trust the most is my partner, Linda Kay Klein. She has loved me unconditionally, challenged me to be better in the most affirming ways, and always “seen” and “heard” me when I needed it the most. 

What do you fear the most in life and why? 

The thing I fear the most in life is a failed legacy. By that, I mean not creating lasting impact, thought and inspiration not only within the lives of my family and friends, but those whom I have never met personally. Having a truly profound sense of legacy, I strive to live my life in a way which will honor my memory as well as those who know and care about me. 

What do you most desire in life and why? 

What I most desire in life is acceptance. Acceptance of the things I can chance, or influence, and acceptance of what I cannot. To this point in my life, not being able to accept the state of the world, or the status quo has meant a lot of aggravation and stress over not doing “enough.”

You can follow Jimmie on Twitter @briggsjimmie.

More on Jimmie!

Jimmie Briggs is a member of the New York City Mayor’s Gender Equity Commission and  the founder and executive director emeritus of Man Up Campaign, a globally-focused organisation to activate youth to stop violence against women and girls. This led to his selection as the winner of the 2010 GQ Magazine “Better Men Better World” search, and as one of the Women’s eNews ‘21 Leaders for the 21st Century’. 

Jimmie has also served as an adjunct professor in social change journalism at the International Center of Photography in New York and of investigative journalism at the New School for Social Research. Jimmie was also a George A Miller Visiting Professor in the Department of African and African-American Studies at the University of Illinois: Champaign-Urbana. 

He is a National Magazine Award finalist and recipient of honors from the Open Society Institute, National Association of Black Journalists and the Carter Center for Mental Health Journalism. His 2005 book Innocents Lost: When Child Soldiers Go To War took readers into the lives of war-affected children around the world. His next book project is an oral history of Ferguson, Missouri in the wake of Michael Brown’s death in 2014. Jimmie holds a Medal of Distinction from Barnard College.