Beth Menz is an activist who cares about improving the lives of people most often left behind by our government and the corporations they work for. She is the Home Care Director and Vice President for SEIU HCII who oversees the organization and development for healthcare workers in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and Kansas. This is far from where she began though. Beth, who acknowledges she is probably biracial, was 3-days old when she was adopted by the white couple, who she now calls mom and dad.
Raised in a conservative, highly-religious, military family, it’s surprising to those on the outside looking in how Beth found her way to her current work, political views, and her ultimate authentic self. After an elementary school trip to the zoo, she was first told that her skin color was different color than her family and her peers. Then a few years later that her sexual orientation was different than most of the people she knew also. She voted for George W. Bush in her first Presidential election and skipped over the Ohio ballot measure asking to legalize same-sex marriage, though she knew she was a lesbian herself.
Then in 2008 Barack Obama ran for President and Beth, for the first time, saw herself in a candidate, and changed her path forever. She dove full into politics, knocking on doors for Obama’s campaign, then organizing labor unions from the ground up, eventually working her way up to her Director and Vice President role now. Through this evolution hear about how Beth has come full circle in a short amount of time, embraced her authentic self, faced her family challenges head on, though not without struggle, and has used her experiences and voice to create positive and profound impact on those most-often left behind.
2:40 My parents were everything I am not.
4:56 This is not at all what the world is to me.
6:14 The first farmer to hire “colored” workers.
7:44 What experiences taught you that you are different?
8:35 I remember the first time I realized I was different from everyone else.
9:50 My mom sat me down and told me people would see me differently than I see myself.
11:16 When kids come out of the closet, parents go in.
11:55 Mom, you didn’t mess up with me.
13:22 It’s almost like I saw myself as 2 different people – myself and the person my parents raised me to be.
16:44 Wait a second. That guy is me. That’s when the shift occurred in me.
19:08 I remember feeling that was wrong and unjust.
23:27 I can either not fight this or I can end up dead.
28:06 What took you from call center agent to an organizer who changes the world? #callcenterhustlelife
34:28 You can’t really go into the closet with your job, so how did your parents feel about your political shift?
36:26 My current work in politics is my full circle moment.
45:18 I always feel lucky.