What is your name and what is your ministry? My name is Diane Mitchell Henry and I am a community social entrepreneur.
How did you get started in it? When I was a young girl, I use to travel to church conventions and revivals with my grandmother, Annie Troy, an evangelist. I was exposed to down-home folks committed to addressing the social issues that impacted the local community and around the world. Church engagement was serious civic engagement during the early 1950’s. It was more than just enjoying tea parties, fried chicken dinners and hand clapping to gospel music. I saw my grandmother, who had raised her own 10 children as a young widow, still actively involved as a leader to effect change for the welfare of others. I wanted to do what “Big Mama” did. I was in junior high school when joining the Peace Corps or becoming a missionary piqued my interest. My engagement started over 40 years ago as a professional and volunteer. My passion is seeking solutions to human rights disparities.
What role has God or your faith played in your ministry? My faith in the Spirit of God is my all-and-all in life. The Spirit of God leads me. When I am in touch with God’s Spirit, I learn lessons that become opportunities to sustain and solidify my journey of faith. My faith has afforded me the mindset to “do” life and not let life “do” me.
What is a memorable moment in your ministry? I went to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, for the first time for my 25th birthday. When I landed at the airport, I was nudged by God’s Spirit to relocate. I spent eight days on the island. I returned to Washington, D.C. and within 4 months, I resigned my job, sub-listed my apartment, arranged for island housing and purchased a one-way ticket to St. Thomas — “Ya mon.” St. Thomas was home for four years. My branding as a social entrepreneur and youth advocate was established and many doors of opportunities opened. I started a youth club, organized parade troops, produced a youth public service radio program, worked as a social worker for the Public and Safety (Police) Department – Juvenile Division; and operated a summer day camp. It was an amazing and memorable season of my faith journey.
What are you working on now? My current project is the 5th Annual A Call for Boldness – Bridget “Biddy” Mason Unsung Sheroes Legacy Celebration, on Saturday, August 10, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., at the Biddy Mason Memorial Park, at 333 S. Spring St., in downtown Los Angeles. I am the founder of the Women’s Group of Greater Los Angeles County (WGGLAC). We are hosting this event in collaboration with Dr. Kathye Jenkins, founder/president of the Cynthia Perry Ray Foundation. The theme is “Roll, Rise, Remember – Biddy Mason: An Empowered Legacy.” Our focus is on millennial engagement. All ages are welcome to attend this free event. We are looking forward to paying homage to Biddy Mason and honoring outstanding millennial unsung sheroes from throughout Los Angeles County. My future endeavors include creating more platforms for awareness, access and action for social justice and economic equity.
What impact is your ministry having on the community? I believe embracing knowledge and understanding of our ancestors’ journeys and seeking factual information about the issues at hand contribute to empowerment. For example, since the hosting the Bridget “Biddy” Mason Unsung Sheroes Legacy Celebration in 2015, I have noticed an increased acknowledgement of Biddy Mason. I say hallelujah to that!
How can others get involved in your ministry? Email me at [email protected] or text (323) 331-1398.