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5 lessons to remember LGBTQ organizer Michael Hinson

Michael Hinson headshot September 26, 2022 Category: People

For many of us organizing in Philadelphia, we lost a giant last month.

To many of us Michael Hinson was a champion of a range of social causes, notably in the LGBTQ community, a true “superhero.” He was most recently president of SELF Inc., Philadelphia’s largest provider of emergency and transitional housing. Starting when he arrived in Philadelphia from South Carolina in the 1980s, Michael was a force advocating for those less fortunate, advocating for humanity, advocating for change. He passed of an undisclosed cause, according to the Philadelphia Gay News, which detailed his meaningful career. Over the last month, much has been said about his impact. You can hear him directly in our podcast interview here, or here in testimony from 2017.

To contribute to what has already been said about Michael, we gathered five lessons from his work that we all should heed to further his impact and continue the work.

Be a Voice for the Voiceless

“Michael was not only a voice for the voiceless, he was a person that didn’t play the game when it came to hurting others, especially folks he cared about even if it was not politically correct. One lesson we can learn is how to care for others regardless of politics and support them because it is the right thing to do. I’m proud to call him MY best friend and was able to share quality time with him.
~Sylvia P. Simms
Housing Support Coach
SELF Inc.

Demand Justice for Others

“Michael demanded justice, especially for those who were young, or different, or unhoused, or feared, or hated. He organized communities to empower themselves not to empower himself, but in ways that would make them or keep them healthy and thriving.”
~David R. Fair
Deputy Chief Executive Officer
TURNING POINTS FOR CHILDREN a PHMC affiliate

Be Unapologetic

“The one lesson I learned from [Mike] is to lead with love! He always spoke up for underserved, marginalized people but he did so with love, honor, grace, and truth. I admired his ability to speak candidly, eloquently, and unapologetically.”
~Chekemma J. Fulmore-Townsend, MSW
President
Hamilton Family Charitable Trust
Hamilton Family Foundation

From our Partners

Lead with Authenticity

“Leading with authenticity is a lesson Michael Hinson and I both have wholeheartedly embraced. Michael recognized early on the importance of bringing your full, perfectly imperfect, authentic self to every situation. People respond to that. They know when someone is holding back. Not being authentic limits one’s full potential and impact, both as a leader and as a human being. If a situation does not allow you to be your complete, authentic self, find another one. Go the way your blood beats. Michael understood and practiced this concept as well as anyone I know.”

~Reginald T. Shuford, Esq.
Executive Director
ACLU of Pennsylvania

Break Cycles

“We had the pleasure of speaking to Mike for an episode of the Beyond Philanthropy podcast in April, and we discussed systemic change. One of the things that Mike brought up is that systemic change is often hindered by people who can’t see the difference between a systemic issue and an individual issue. Folks think “I didn’t do that, I wasn’t the one who did something wrong” and can’t see past that to the systems that are in place that have historically oppressed groups of people. The assumption that they’re being accused of doing something wrong, or that they’ve created a problem that existed well before they were in this role, hinders our ability to think holistically about systemic changes. And as a result, Mike told us “We’ve told poor communities and Black and brown communities over and over and over again, we got this wrong again, let’s go back and try it again. And every time we get it wrong, our communities become disinterested, become disconnected. And in the meantime, the harm is still happening.” That really stuck with me – we have let down specific communities over and over again, without including them in the conversation or the solution. We have to break that cycle.”

~Valerie Johnson
Co-Host
BEYOND Philanthropy

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