The Monterey County Weekly cover story “Liberty, Equality, Justice - for All“ this week spotlights several members of a new generation of community leaders who have have led the peaceful anti-racism protests in the county in response to the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. One of those leaders is Middlebury Institute student Nathaniel Sawyer MAIPD ’21.
“I’m 26 years old and I’m tired of people telling me I should be silent, that I should wait, that I’m too young to lead,” Sawyer told the paper. “I’m always trying to prove people wrong. This is the time to speak out.”
Sawyer is a former corrections officer, foster care worker, and Peace Corps volunteer and says that the International Policy and Development degree with a specialization in human trafficking, migration, and human security “offered the perfect opportunity to enhance my experiences, and education.”
He has always been actively engaged in the community. “Volunteering and activism is part of my personality. I can’t stand by and watch low income communities and minorities struggle. I am privileged and blessed to help people who cannot help themselves.” He is the oldest of four children, the first in his family to graduate from high school, and shares that he grew up in poverty. “My father died before I was born, and my mother worked as a janitor and maid for rich white men and women. I promised myself a long time ago, that no matter where I am, that city will be my community and home.” Sawyer is passionate about making a positive impact in the world. “I am a social activist and to me that means sacrificing time and energy for the well-being of others.”
“Anyone can move to an area and live there but it takes work to get to know the people in every community.” Sawyer says he is inspired everyday “by the mothers who work two jobs so their children can receive a better education and job” and “by the fathers who play with their children and attend games while working in unfulfilling positions to feed their family.” He adds: “I know people are always looking for leaders. I decided April 2019 when I arrived in Monterey to be that African American leader. I am very honored to receive so much love from the entire county.”