Within the extensive narratives of determination, compassion, and unyielding dedication to social justice that fill the annals of history, Frankie Lozada's path serves as a radiant embodiment of the unstoppable human spirit.
Born into poverty as the youngest of seven in a Puerto Rican single-parent household, Frankie faced the harsh realities of life from an early age, with his father serving a prison sentence. However, his remarkable journey is a testament to the transformative power of determination and the unwavering belief that change is possible. Frankie's story is a symbol of encouragement, a reminder that no matter the circumstances, the human spirit can rise above adversity and inspire positive change in the world. His journey is a testament to the enduring power of resilience, compassion, and the unyielding pursuit of justice.
Frankie's mother, a high school dropout, refused to be confined by the cycle of poverty. She defied the odds, embarking on a remarkable journey of her own by returning to school and becoming an educator. Her dedication to breaking the cycle of poverty led her to relocate the family to the suburbs, all in pursuit of a better education for her children. This pivotal decision would set the stage for Frankie's remarkable trajectory.
From a young age, Frankie's heart of gold drove him to ensure that no one was left behind. At the tender age of 18, he took a significant step forward by joining the local fire department as a volunteer. When the EMS company faced dissolution due to a lack of members, Frankie, recognizing the vital importance of a free EMS option for the community, stepped up to become an EMT. His dedication and commitment to the well-being of his community shone through, igniting a passion for justice that would define his life's purpose.
Fueling his passion for justice, Frankie pursued an associate's degree in criminal justice and psychology, with aspirations to attend Hunter College for a law degree. Coming from a justice-impacted family, his goal was clear: to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline disproportionately affecting Latino and minority populations. However, life often takes unexpected turns, and Frankie diverted from this path, delving into experiential marketing in 2011. As he toured the nation, he gained profound insights into the diverse cultures and regions beyond the streets of New York.
Never one to stray far from his commitment to social justice, Frankie later returned to school and earned his Bachelor's degree in Business and Economics. Everywhere he traveled, he engaged in dialogue, aligning with organizations fighting for social change and equity. Despite abandoning his dream of becoming a lawyer, he remained deeply involved in the legal aspect of government, contributing to the drafting of legislation that would later serve as a framework for impactful bills.
In 2021, Frankie's life took a transformative turn when he accepted a federal contract that brought him face to face with the harsh realities of migrant operations and unaccompanied minors crossing the border in El Paso, Texas. Witnessing the flaws in the system and hearing the heart-wrenching stories of these children, Frankie made a solemn vow to address and change the system from within.
This commitment to justice led him to stand up and run for office, driven by a passion to create lasting, positive change and ensure that no child or family would be harmed by systemic failures. Frankie Lozada's story is one of turning adversity into advocacy, embodying the unwavering spirit of a changemaker who refuses to accept the status quo.
Frankie's journey serves as a powerful reminder that it is not the circumstances of one's birth that determine their destiny, but rather one unwavering commitment to justice, their capacity for compassion, and their resilience in the face of adversity. His story challenges us all to be agents of change, to never lose sight of our values, and to stand up for what is right, no matter the obstacles in our path. Frankie Lozada is not just a name; he is a hopeful sign, a symbol of what is possible when one person decides to make a difference.
Earlier this month, in January 2024, I had the privilege of interviewing with Presidential Candidate Frankie Lozada. During our conversation, he emphasized the themes of "Hope and Change" as the cornerstone of his campaign for the presidency. Frankie Lozada's platform is built on the principles of resilience, boundless compassion, and unwavering dedication to justice. He strongly believes in being powered by the people and being accountable solely to the people.
OLM: Frankie, your early life was marked by economic hardships and family challenges. Can you share some specific moments or experiences that shaped your determination and resilience during those difficult times?
Frankie: Living on public assistance forced us to make true determinations of needs versus wants, as economic constraints became a constant reality. The most profound challenges were family-related.
Having an incarcerated family member was a difficult topic to discuss, creating emotional and social barriers. When my family moved to the suburbs, I found myself surrounded by friends with "complete" families. The prison system further exacerbated the financial strain on my family, as visiting my father became an expensive endeavor.
The prison system's practice of constantly moving inmates around presented logistical challenges, physically separating family members and making it increasingly difficult to maintain connections. At one point, my father was located eight hours away, making regular visits nearly impossible. This geographical distance imposed a significant strain on my family, both emotionally and financially.
Eventually, the burden became too great for my mother. The sacrifice of work days and the increasing inconvenience of visiting my father led to a point where they had to stop visiting altogether. This experience of being physically and emotionally separated from a family member due to external circumstances played a crucial role in shaping my determination and resilience during those challenging times. It reflects the complex interplay between economic hardships, familial challenges, and the impact of the criminal justice system on personal and family dynamics. Which is why I have been motivated to fight the system and create positive change.
OLM: Your mother's transformation from a high school dropout to an educator is truly remarkable. How did her journey influence your own pursuit of education and your commitment to social justice?
Frankie: My mother inspired us by leading by example and emphasizing the value of education. My mother was very clear that she had intentions for us and that she never wanted us to fall into the systematic cycle that society expected. I would always hear her say, "You will not be a statistic." She expressed her desire for all seven of her children to attend college, and it was a dream realized when all seven of us did. Regarding social justice, my experiences and upbringing naturally sparked that desire in me.
OLM: At 18, you joined the local fire department as a volunteer and later became an EMT. What inspired you to take on such a vital role in your community, and how did this experience impact your sense of purpose?
Frankie: I always loved helping people, especially strangers. My mom and grandmother always taught us to help those in need and help feed those who were hungry. My mother always had an open-door policy with friends and family members who may have been down on their luck and did not have a place to stay. Joining the fire department was a way for me to help people.
Being an EMT had never crossed my mind until I found out that they were going to cut the EMS department for lack of members. I couldn’t allow that to happen. Most of our fire calls were false alarms because someone forgot to change the batteries on their detectors. However, 100% of our EMS calls were response calls to people who actively needed help or aid. Thankfully after I did, many other members joined and eventually EMS was able to stand on its own as a permanent part of our department. Every person I helped, just continued to light the fuel within me and find more and more ways to help others.
OLM: You initially pursued a degree in criminal justice and psychology with dreams of attending law school to address the school-to-prison pipeline. Can you explain what drove you to change your path and dive into experiential marketing, and how this journey broadened your perspective?
Frankie: Initially, my dream was to become a criminal lawyer. I wanted to represent and help others who may be fighting the carceral system and fighting for their rights. However, due to economic barriers, I had to work during my college years. I started working in the experiential marketing field. I enjoyed it, I saw a greater sense of excitement and opportunity to travel in that industry. It was also a great source of income. I started seeing how marketing really ran the world, and thus I decided to shift my major towards marketing. Marketing and events would later give me the resources and skills needed to organize and promote social coalitions that were willing to lobby and speak up for change.
OLM: While working in experiential marketing, you engaged with various cultures and organizations fighting for social change. Can you share any specific moments or insights from this period that influenced your advocacy for equity and justice?
Frankie: Experiential marketing allowed me to travel to the United States. I have been to 44 out of 50 states and it did bless me with the ability to meet amazing people all over the country. It allowed me to see the economic disparities, racial barriers, and how the carceral system operated in various states. This revelation exposed the fact that these crises were nationwide epidemics that directly targeted people who looked and sounded like me. I grew up thinking that my story was unique, but in reality, I was “ just a statistic.” That was when I realized why my mother was so adamant about us breaking that cycle. The experiential field allowed me to break out of my shell, build my confidence, and be more vocal about these issues.
OLM: You mentioned contributing to the drafting of legislation. Could you elaborate on the type of legislation you were involved in and how it aligns with your passion for social change?
Frankie: Elected state officials love it when other people draft bills for them. They get all the credit and so they are very receptive to listening to people who draft legislation. Currently, I drafted bills that focus mostly on criminal justice reform, prison reform, and education. I noticed that most bills that have been passed regarding criminal justice reform are bills that focus on post-conviction. Recently I introduced a bill that completely changes the narrative and deals directly with pre-conviction. Specifically the process of “Plea bargains.” 95% of all convictions in America are plea bargains. Many end up being forced confessions due to misconduct. At least 15% of people who have been exonerated have pled guilty to crimes they did not commit. Those are people who are lucky to even get their appeal heard. The number of innocent people in prison is much higher. Also a fun fact, over 200 people in America were exonerated AFTER serving 25 or more years in prison. As the number of years decreases, that exoneree number increases. From 1989-2022 there had been over 3,284 people exonerated. These numbers are the reason why I draft legislation, and fight for social change.
My education bill focuses on battling absenteeism, which significantly impacts communities of color and communities of high poverty. My bill focuses on positive reinforcement and incentives for parents and children to attend school. That bill which I labeled S.M.A.R.T ( Student Measured Attendance Rewards Tuition) will hopefully be introduced this upcoming session in New York.
OLM: Your experiences in El Paso, TX, working with migrant operations and unaccompanied minors seem profoundly impactful. Can you describe a particularly challenging moment or story that fueled your determination to change the system from within?
Frankie: Every day was emotional at the border. I cried every night for the first two months. I saw women, children, and families in shackles. Being treated like criminals. Young girls and boys who were malnourished were half the size of what they should be for their age. Girls who barely hit puberty were pregnant and traumatized as a result of abuse, trafficking and rape. Nothing could have prepared me for that. I spoke to thousands of migrants during my time there, and each of them with similar heartwrenching stories. I met kids who left their countries with their parents but arrived alone because they survived, but their mothers and fathers didn’t. I could not believe that this was our way of treating people. For that reason, I knew that someone had to stand up and fight for change.
OLM: Running for office is a significant step. What specific policies or changes do you hope to implement to address the systemic failures you witnessed, especially concerning the welfare of children and families?
Frankie: First and foremost, I would immediately stop the deportation of our veterans on Day 1! It is absurd that we recruit people from all over the world so that they can fight for our freedom, and then lose their benefits and get deported. If you fought for this country, you deserve to stay!
Second is the focus on our children and families. We need to significantly invest in the welfare and upbringing of our children. We need to make childcare a guaranteed right so that children are consistently engaged and being educated and protected. We need to make sure that our families have guaranteed protections when it comes to accessible healthcare and mental health services.
We need to create financial forgiveness programs that will give the people living in poverty and financial hardship a second chance to invest in their future and have a pathway to homeownership and access to established generational wealth. We must do better for the American people. They Deserve better.
OLM: Throughout your journey, who were your role models or sources of inspiration? How have they influenced your approach to advocacy and leadership?
Frankie: Throughout my journey, several individuals have served as role models and sources of inspiration. As a Puerto Rican, I have to highlight Ramon Emeterio Betances, a Puerto Rican nationalist and physician, who dedicated his life to advocating for the rights of the oppressed. Betances played a pivotal role in the fight for Puerto Rican independence and the abolition of slavery, demonstrating that one person's commitment to justice can ignite significant social change. His tireless efforts laid the foundation for my belief in the transformative power of passionate advocacy.
Another amazing Puerto Rican inspiration was Roberto Clemente, the legendary baseball player. Clemente is dedicated to helping those in need, especially in Latin America and the Caribbean, He used baseball as a pastime to empower his true passion which was for being an advocate for positive change. His legacy shows the significance of using your platform to uplift marginalized communities and address pressing social issues.
Nelson Mandela, the iconic anti-apartheid revolutionary and former President of South Africa, embodies resilience and forgiveness. Mandela's unwavering commitment to ending racial injustice and fostering reconciliation showcased the power of leadership grounded in compassion and inclusivity. His ability to lead with grace and inspire change through dialogue profoundly influenced my understanding of leadership as a force for unity and social transformation.
Akon, the Grammy-winning artist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, has leveraged his success to make a positive impact on Africa through his Akon Lighting Africa initiative. Committed to addressing energy poverty, Akon's innovative approach showcases how individuals in the public eye can use their influence for meaningful humanitarian causes. His multi-faceted contributions to social change highlight the importance of using diverse platforms for advocacy and making a tangible difference in communities.
Mark Cuban, entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, is known for his outspokenness on social and political issues. Cuban's approach to advocacy involves challenging norms and utilizing his platform to address systemic problems. Whether it's advocating for social justice or promoting entrepreneurship, Cuban's bold leadership style has influenced my belief in the power of leveraging influence and resources to drive positive change. He even was able to cut down medication costs!
Martin Luther King Jr., the iconic civil rights leader, championed equality and justice through nonviolent activism. His commitment to challenging racial injustice and promoting civil rights laid the groundwork for transformative social movements. King's philosophy of peaceful resistance and collective action continues to inspire my approach to advocacy, emphasizing the importance of courage and persistence in the face of adversity.
These diverse role models have collectively shaped my approach to advocacy and leadership, emphasizing the importance of empathy, resilience, and making a meaningful impact on the world.
OLM: Frankie, what advice would you give to young individuals who are facing adversity and seeking to make a positive impact on their communities or society at large?
Frankie: I would tell people that In the face of adversity, you must embrace the strength within vulnerability. It is through adversity that resilience is forged. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, let your struggles fuel the fire of your determination. In moments of despair, remember that adversity is not a roadblock but a crucible that refines the strengths of your character.
To make a positive impact, cultivate empathy as your guiding light. Seek to understand the diverse narratives that weave the fabric of our society, and let compassion be the driving force of your actions. Each act of kindness, no matter how small, sends ripples through the oceans of humanity. Stand firm in your convictions, fueled by the belief that positive change starts with the power within your heart. Be the messenger of hope that you wish to see in the world, and know that your resilience, empathy, and commitment have the power to transform adversity into a catalyst for profound and lasting change.
OLM: Can you share your vision for the future and what you hope to achieve in your role as a changemaker and advocate for social justice?
Frankie: As President, my vision for the future is rooted in creating a society that thrives on equality and justice. I aspire to be a changemaker who transforms the status quo, ensuring that our nation becomes a symbol of inclusivity. In this role, I am committed to amplifying the voices of the marginalized, addressing systemic inequalities, and fostering an environment where everyone can reach their full potential.
My drive for social justice extends beyond rhetoric; it involves implementing policies that dismantle barriers to opportunity. I aim to reform criminal justice, promote equitable access to education and healthcare, and bridge the economic divides that persist in our society. By prioritizing collaboration and unity, we can build a nation where the principles of fairness and compassion guide our actions.
Ultimately, as President, I seek to lead a movement that not only envisions but actively achieves a future where the promise of equality is fulfilled, and every citizen is treated with the respect and dignity they deserve. Together, we can shape a brighter, more just tomorrow for all.