By RAMAH ALERYAN
On Monday, Colorado College welcomed Rev. Dr. Stephany Rose for an event, “Honoring King, Living the Dream,” sponsored by The Butler Center, to celebrate the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King.
Rev. Dr. Stephany Rose Spaulding is a Colorado Springs District 5 candidate for U.S. Congress. She is a pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Colorado Springs and an associate professor in the Women and Ethnic Studies Department at University of Colorado Colorado Springs.
Rose was inspired to run for Congress by the “women and people making a collective declaration” about how they want to be represented as a community and as a nation. Rose seeks to change the narrative and the historical construct of this particular congressional district. District 5 has been represented by Republican Doug Lamborn since 2006.
In response to being asked why she still has faith in the U.S. democratic system, Rose acknowledged that to govern by the will of the people can, at times, be difficult because it shifts regularly. However, she perceives shifts as “a space of hope and opportunity.” In fact, a shift provided an opportunity for her to run for Congress, which is something she never thought she would do.
An article published in The Economist, “What’s Gone Wrong with Democracy,” mentions that 31 percent of the American people are losing faith in the U.S. democracy. Rose acknowledges that the electoral democracy is not “a golden ticket” for success or a happy life, and in many ways, it has failed us. Yet, she believes that the electoral politics can be utilized by marginalized people to create change and to achieve justice and liberation. Rose was clear that she believes in the potential of progress. She believes in the democratic ways to abolish oppression, and she believes in the legal routes to address injustices. Her personal project is to better engage with the structure in place and work within the system of power to make change.
Rose recognizes the challenges that she is going to face as a woman and a person of color running for office. However, her goal is to show that those are not “hindrances” to her character, to the ideas and values that she holds dear, or to her ability to represent others. Instead, it is part of the work that she has to do to shape a different narrative.
The real challenge that Rose is facing is disengaged citizens and others disillusioned with the system and political processes. Her work focuses primarily on re-engaging people with the ideals of this country and democracy. As a representative, creating authentic spaces and opportunities for conversation and dialogue is the first step to engage people. Rose does not want to be a figure separate from the people; she wants to hear their concerns in their living rooms and listen to their stories in events she provides instead of perceiving them as votes on a ballot, like many other officials do.
Events like this will also provide many opportunities for people to share their stories and concerns with each other to create empathy, solidarity, and awareness. Rose sees her duty as to continuously connect with people even after the elections. She seeks to achieve this mission not only by being a Congress candidate, but also by being a professor and a reverend.
As a professor, Rose believes in turning theory into action by encouraging her students to go into communities and brainstorm social change projects to help those communities or even create new ones. She wants her students to honor their differences, not in hierarchical ways, but rather, to see that differences “makes richer, stronger, healthier.”
As a reverend, Rose is very attached to the community of her church and she does not seek to pastor any other community, even if she goes to Washington, D.C. Being a reverend helped her to be sensitive to people’s concerns and develop the needed care to address them.
Rose believes that the U.S. is a sanctuary country, and it is ingrained in the U.S.’s societal fabric to provide refuge to people who need it. However, she is cautious about the word “refugee” and its frequent loose usage. She believes that there is a certain community in Colorado Springs that “we are responsible to provide for.” Rose hopes for a gracious immigrantion policy that is equitable and not just based on racialization.
She wants CC students and the broader community to know that she is “a real person, a human being and not a figurehead or superhuman.” Rose emphasized that she is not running for Congress out of “self-glorification.” She is simply a citizen that does not like how she is represented and wants to make it possible to live by the ideals of democracy. Her work is about public service, not the fame and glory of politics.