Minister, President of Brooklyn Chapter of the National Action Network
Growing up in a biracial household in Crown Heights, Kirsten John Foy experienced firsthand how people are treated because of their skin color. The experience motivated Foy to challenge differences that perpetuate racism and hatred, a powerful example of which was when he was arrested last year during the West Indian Day Parade for trying to walk along a restricted path to a lunch for city officials at the Brooklyn Museum.
“What I learned most personally from that experience is that individual officers, who may have the best of intentions, the purest of motives, the deepest commitment to their jobs, can have their actions corrupted and jaded by bad policy,” Foy said.
Foy, a former top staffer to Public Advocate Bill de Blasio who now heads the Brooklyn chapter of Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, believes that one of those policies, the police department’s stop-and-frisk initiative, has done more harm than good in stopping gun violence, while damaging community relations with the police force in the process. Stop-and-frisk, he said, creates a mentality that people who come from a minority community, “don’t have the same legal or constitutional protections that other people are afforded.”
If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing?
“I’m a Pentecostal minister, and much of my work has always been viewed through the prism of ministry, whether it’s social justice ministry or prophetic ministry. If I was not doing social justice ministry and prophetic ministry together, I’d probably just be doing prophetic ministry.”
Five years from now, what will it say on your business card?
“ ‘Council Member of the 36th Council District of Brooklyn.’ ”
If you could have dinner with any person—living, historical or fictitious—who would it be, and why?
“As a Pentecostal minister, I’m bound by a covenant that requires me to say that above all names, I choose the name of Jesus Christ. He’s the most powerful human figure in all of human history.”