The Media School

Local activist, Patrick Ford, fights for Black lives

November 12th, 2020 by
Ford tells the story of his younger brother being pulled over by a police officer as a teenager. Ford feared for his brother’s life and it inspired him to get more involved in the Black Lives Matter movement.Photograph by Jake Taylor

Patrick Ford, local Black Lives Matter activist, knows that systemic racism impacts the Bloomington community. He hopes his work will start conversations about how to dismantle racist institutions.

As thousands of protesters listened, Patrick Ford II spoke into a bullhorn at the Monroe County Courthouse demanding justice for Black Americans everywhere at the Enough is Enough March in Bloomington on June 5. He continued organizing vigils, community discussions and protests throughout the summer.

“I wasn’t attempting to lead, but I think I’m an easy person to follow,” he says. “We wanted to do something that brought light to just how close all the racial injustices are, even within our own community. And that’s when we organized.”

Ford, 23, has been devoted to racial justice for many years, but this summer, after the death of George Floyd, he was further inspired to fight for change and helped to organize that Bloomington march.

Ford’s dedication comes from a life of experiencing racism and the understanding of historical and continual systemic racism, he says.

“I’m proud to be a Black man,” he says. “I would not trade being a Black man for being a white man and not having to worry about the things that I have to worry about. I think that’s what makes me who I am.”

His friend, Spencer Shindell, sees that pride in their everyday conversations. He says Ford can have meaningful conversations with anyone about race, activism and almost anything.

“He’s really nice and outgoing to everyone,” Shindell says. His personality allows him to discuss important issues with people, says Shindell.

“I’m only four generations off of a plantation field,” Ford says. “I visited the plantation that my great grandma was born on.”

He describes his visit to the plantation as somber but numbing. It’s a similar feeling to what he felt wh

Photograph by Jake Taylor

Ford tells the story of his younger brother being pulled over by a police officer as a teenager. Ford feared for his brother’s life and it inspired him to get more involved in the Black Lives Matter movement.

en he heard the story of his younger half-brother pulled over by a police officer. Ford’s brother, Caleb Poer, had been driving his Mercedes Benz when a police officer pulled him over and held a gun up to him.

“What if Caleb made one wrong move?” he says. “He could have been the next headline nationally. He was in the wrong for speeding, but at the same time, you can’t tell me that a white kid driving a Mercedes Benz is going to get a gun drawn on for speeding.”

This situation follows a pattern of racism that’s been present throughout Ford’s life.

In elementary school, he was called the “N-word” by a white classmate.

“Racism is taught,” he says, “It’s not that you’re not born with it. Why does fourth grader know the N-word? They only know that because mom and dad are saying that at home.”

Ford talks about how his experience growing up has allowed him to see the world through many different perspectives.

Ford was born in New Orleans to a working-class mother, Lynette Johnson, and father, Patrick Ford I, who was a gambler and an aggressive drinker. Later, his mother took Ford and moved to Bloomington, where she met Darrell Poer, his adoptive father.

“I wasn’t attempting to lead, but I think I’m an easy person to follow. We wanted to do something that brought light to just how close all the racial injustices are, even within our own community. And that’s when we organized.” – Patrick Ford, Black Lives Matter Activist

On his wrist, Ford wears a gold bracelet, an homage to his biological father, which was given to him by his mother. The roman numerals “VI.XII.MMX” are tattooed to his chest in reference to the date the man he calls “Dad” adopted him, July 13, 2010.

Ford has only seen his biological father a handful of times since his mother brought them to Bloomington.

Poer and Johnson had Ford’s half-brother and later separated. Being in Bloomington brought economic opportunities to their family and Ford feels he grew up in an upper-middle class household after relocating. Since being an adult, his mother came out as a lesbian, married a woman and moved to Australia.

Ford says he believes his family life has had a large impact on how he thinks about race, identity and the future.

“It’s not like I’m coming to racial talks with tunnel vision,” he says.

Ford graduated from IU in 2019, and spent a year working in Paris. Now, he turns his eyes toward Phoenix, where his new job as a Senior Project Manager for Mojo Installations begins in less than two weeks. But in addition to his 9-to-5 job, Ford now considers himself a Black Lives Matter activist, after his experience this past summer.

“Conversations need to keep being held,” he says. “People have to be able to be open with themselves and they have to hold each other accountable. You can be protesting. You can be doing all of this. But if at the end of the day you have to be willing to have the uncomfortable conversations with the people closest to you.”

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