Phyllis Hill was born in 1979 in Hazelhurst, Ga., a small predominantly white city of 5,000 people.
Her grandmother, a staunch missionary Baptist and an educator, primarily raised her and inspired her to become a prominent Black leader and organizer in the South, as well as having a deep appreciation of a woman’s vital role in Black communities and institutions.
“Her story is the reason why I’m able to be in a great community with the members of Black Women in the South,” said Hill at a recent online collective of Black women organizers. “My grandmother taught me what it means to be a Black woman and to share myself in a very joyful way.”
Since returning to her home state in late 2015, having spent nearly eight years as lead organizer at the Minneapolis-based racial and economic justice group ISAIAH, Hill has gone on to become a crucial voice in the fight to end gun violence and mass incarceration. She is now national director of organizing for Faith in Action, a national network of faith-based organizations that seeks to end economic oppression, racism and discrimination, and has emerged as an educator for other leaders, clergy and organizers on what it takes to win policy change and build voter power.
“We must believe in our own brilliance, believe in our own experience, and organize out of that,” she said during the interview. “For me, walking into 2021 is walking in healthy, walking in as best as we can be, and taking care of Black women.”
Reckon covers women year-round. But since it’s Women’s History Month, we want to introduce you to Southern women we should all know about and whose props are long overdue.