Young Women of Color Making History: Kimberly Pham

By Kimberly Pham, Activist / Public Servant 

How are you making history? 

I was born and raised in Philadelphia. Small family, but a huge fictive family in the community. My mother migrated here after the Vietnam War. Growing up, I watched her struggle and succeed. She was the first women in my life to encourage me and instill the idea of hope and change.

A lot of my passion about issues comes from directly experiencing or seeing them happen in my community. The things I am passionate about are also the things I get frustrated about. That’s why carrying out the job of an activist is so necessary for me. Living in one of the hardest places in Philly, I get the chance to see a lot of social issues impacting my community, including nutrition problems, low-performing schools, addiction, displacement, and a lack of access to life-changing opportunities. 

I didn’t want to be a bystander to these problems in my community, so I chose to activate myself in different ways. Some days, I get to protest with people who are directly impacted by the issue. We learn and inform each other on resources and how to support the cause. Other days, I can work with individuals who have a direct hand in creating change, from politicians to system leaders in education or justice.

I’ve grown so much in the space of activism and social justice. I understand how important it is to organize everyone who has a stake in these issues. If people have a sense of disconnection when they’re addressing problems, they may leave a great solution unimplemented. It is important to see that no one is greater than each other when solving life’s problems. It’s crucial to the work to uplift that we all are important and deserve access to addressing these problems. I spend the majority of my time organizing directly with my peers and younger adults all over the country. We know how important it is to just listen and learn. 

The long-term impact I hope to have on my community is the idea of never giving up, standing for what’s right, and always believing in yourself. I know people who are conditioned to believe that they don’t matter. We need to eliminate this idea or culture and practice. Everyone is here for a purpose, and we all have the responsibility to take care of us. We don’t have to be stuck on the problem, because we can create solutions and changes in our community. 

Who is a women of color who's inspired you and why?

Alicia Garza is a force to be reckoned with. A notable figure in recent history, she is one of the individuals who helped found the Black Lives Matter (BLM) Movement. She inspires me so much. She is a civil rights activist in the post-racial color-blind era who had the courage to step up and say things are not right in my community for Black people. From there, a movement that always existed was rebirthed in the new millennium. Across the nation, the movement ignited voices that weren't heard and stories that weren't told. Some people became more aware and were inspired to be allies for communities they were never involved with before. Alicia has exposed the use of technology and how it can be a tool for social movements. She is a reminder to not be a bystander to injustice. 

Follow on Twitter @kimmy_honors