Last week, Bull City Rising had a chance to sit down with five of the six finalists for Durham's three open City Council seats. We're bringing you our in-depth interviews with the candidates this week, ahead of early voting. We invite you to watch each and full -- and, to check out our commentary on each candidate's interview and perspectives, after the jump.
Robert T. Stephens is a Durham newcomer, having lived in Durham for a little less than a year. Stephens argues that his lack of Durham experience is countered by an understanding of what he describes as systemic oppression, particularly with his involvement in Black Lives Matter activism, his travels to Ferguson, Mo. and elsewhere, and what he describes as an organizing role leading a march on the Streets at Southpoint Mall last year. We have a candid and frank conversation with Stephens about his experience and positions, his candidacy's heavy backing from Teach For America alums, and his advocacy for those he argues are left behind in today's Durham.
Note: the bottleneck in getting these interviews posted is the transcription and writing efforts; the previous posts have averaged 2,000 to 3,000 words. We're behind and in the interest of time, we're posting this interview without the transcript and narrative-- those will be added this evening.
On Why He's Running
Those who have heard Stephens speak at candidate forums have likely heard his very personal, difficult story of learning his father, a Raeford pastor, died from a heart attack after working to save neighbors' children from a fire. We asked Stephens to go beyond the personal call to service and talk about the issues that most concern him.
And Stephens' core issues of concern are clearly around economic and racial justice.
"When I got to this city, I found a city that was hurting. I found people telling me, hey, this is what I’m experiencing," Stephens said.