Restless Resolve: A Journey of Advocacy and Empowerment

Nikia Miller
7 min readMay 6, 2024

Through this journey of fighting for Celeste and her healing from her violent and repeated sexual assaults (For more information, go to www.8forCeleste.org), I’ve been thrown into defining some concrete new normals. I don’t know how to say this than to tell the story from beginning to end.

On the day I found out about what happened to Celeste, I had a conversation with the then-chair of the school board. She’s this black woman who has lived in Hampton all of her life. She went to school with my older cousin and used her history in the city to gain her seat on the school board. She retired as the Public Relations Officer for Hampton City Schools — plastic smile,…horrible wig. Everything that a cookie-cutter African American politician would look like. We had an in-depth conversation about what happened to my child, with her assertions that once we finished talking, the next call she was going to make was to Jeffrey Smith, the then Superintendent of Schools. Same pedigree with the subtraction of being local. Plastic smile. Exudes the energy of being an absolute douchebag. But I thought that Ann Cherry was at least a minuscule of genuine. Boy, was I wrong.

From that point, I was persona non grata. Every event we went to, they would avoid me as if I carried airborne syphilis. I didn’t understand. Through my function of doing work for the NAACP and the Hampton Democratic Committee, I’d inadvertently got this bitch elected. But now, I’m invisible. A few weeks later, I had an interaction with Richard Mason, the now-chair of the school board. Now, I DIRECTLY helped get this asshole elected. At this event, I started what I had to say like this: “Look, I know that there is not that much you can say because of your role on the school board, but I just want you to see who I am and realize that you know me.” This fucktard smiles like a Cheshire cat and says “I’ve seen your face….” DUDE. Are you fucking serious?!!? This was the beginning of my anguish and the start of me referring to Dr. Mason as “Rick the Dick.” I continued my steadfast mission of speaking before the school board and being shut down and demeaned. It motivated me to put my hat in the ring and run for elected office.

At a town hall that was supposed to provide a platform for both sets of candidates — city council and school board — I arrived with the kids and watched the city council portion of the town hall. The organizer chose to separate the two groups at the last minute, which was probably the better decision. I decided to stay and hear what the city council candidates had to say. As I left the event, Ann Cherry was outside of the venue — one of the oldest African American churches in the city — running her big-assed mouth — “If you’re an asshole, I’m gonna call you an asshole…” As I turned around to go back into the church to retrieve a padfolio I’d accidentally left behind, I responded: “Cussing on church grounds, ANN — REAL CLASSY.” I felt snarky and empowered, even after someone who was with her was like “REALLY?!?!?” This self-righteous, smug bitch with her haughty demeanor and her bad wigs thought she was better than me.

During the school board town hall, she did everything to make sure I knew that I was the outsider. Her and her simple-minded cohorts made sure they cheered every time the incumbents made a response and they operated in absolute silence when I gave replies. My husband, with my children in tow, saw the writing on the wall and started responding in kind. Their abject stupidity had an opposite effect — the general crowd started cheering for me. They gave validity to me being right where I was.

I’m saying all of this to point out that people like this make me restless. Ann Cherry, with her quasi-corporate demeanor, her Madea wig and her haughty character, are what makes me restless. Rick the Dick, in order to keep me out of political spaces prior to the gubernatorial elections in the Commonwealth, lied to a magistrate and filed a restraining order petition against me, saying that I “flew across a table at him, in witness of over a dozen others.” What makes this so crazy? I was on crutches. Non-weightbearing. If I’d flown across a table at him, I’d have fallen flat on my non-existent ass. He came to court with his sub-average lawyer. My husband became nervous. “Nikki, do you need a lawyer for this?” “No, Richard — I’m going to court, armed with the truth and it’s going to be what it’s going to be.” At the hearing, acknowledging my medical condition from the bench, the judge said “Dr. Mason, you haven’t proven that Mrs. Miller EVER posed a threat to you in any capacity.” The crowd in the courtroom cheered, giving me high fives and fist bumps as I hobbled out of the courtroom, still on crutches. Armed with the words of the judge, I laughed in his face and said “Happy birthday, motherfucker.” I felt so empowered, as if I’d finally won a small battle in this infinite war.

People like him, the rest of the school board, and the entire city council, make me restless. I am restless in my fight for my children and the children of my city who have nothing to do in their leisure moments. Car washes. Oil Change places. Gas stations. That’s what litters Mercury Boulevard, the main artery in my city. The city of Hampotn has no understanding of giving our children movement and togetherness. Even in defeat, I feel like the journey through this school board race gave me the acceptance that I never received in childhood. I want that to change. I want to envelop the people that are affected by the problems that being condemned by first-world-problem keyboard warriors with their upper crust townhouses on the water, can’t solve. Who tell people not to give panhandlers change, but force the homeless into programs that they are not ready to enter, but are forced to participate in to have a place to sleep and a transitional roofs over their heads. They filter these people into treatment that they aren’t at a place to participate in to pad their own pockets. How the FUCK are you able to dictate someone’s healing? Fuck your opportunity credits.

In this relentless quest for justice, I find myself grappling not just with individuals, but with the very systems that perpetuate injustice and inequality. From the hollow promises of politicians to the calculated maneuvers of bureaucrats, every obstacle I face only serves to fuel my determination. And yet, amidst the chaos and adversity, there are moments of clarity and empowerment — moments when I feel the tide of public opinion shifting in my favor, when I realize that my voice, though often silenced, still carries weight.

But even as I celebrate these small victories, I am reminded of the countless others who continue to suffer in silence — the children in my city who lack access to basic amenities and opportunities, the homeless individuals who are marginalized and discarded by society’s callous indifference. It is for them that I continue to fight, to demand accountability from those in power, and to challenge the status quo at every turn.

So yes, I am restless — not just for myself, but for all those who have been marginalized and oppressed. And until justice is served and equality is realized, my restless spirit will continue to burn bright, a beacon of hope in a world shrouded in darkness.

Every word I speak, every step I take, is driven by a passion that cannot be extinguished. It is a fire that burns deep within my soul, a relentless force that compels me to fight for what is right, no matter the cost. For too long, the voices of the marginalized and oppressed have been silenced, their struggles ignored by those in power. But I refuse to remain silent any longer. I refuse to stand idly by while injustice reigns unchecked.

It is this refusal, this unwavering commitment to justice, that fuels my restless spirit. For I know that change will not come easily. It will require sacrifice, perseverance, and an unwavering belief in the inherent worth and dignity of every human being. But I am willing to make that sacrifice. I am willing to endure whatever hardships may come, if it means creating a better world for future generations.

And so I press on, undeterred by the obstacles that lie ahead. For I know that with each passing day, we move one step closer to a world where justice, equality, and compassion reign supreme. And though the road may be long and fraught with challenges, I take comfort in knowing that I do not walk this path alone. For I am surrounded by fellow warriors, each fighting their own battles, each driven by the same burning desire for a better tomorrow.

Together, we are unstoppable. Together, we will tear down the walls of oppression and usher in a new era of hope and possibility. For in the end, it is not the strength of our adversaries that will determine our fate, but the strength of our convictions, the depth of our compassion, and the power of our collective will.

So what do we do from here? We share the story. We call the delegates. The senators. The city council. The School Board. We let them know that this won’t stand. We let them know we’re watching. We condense the bottom line and let them know that they are on the clock. That’s the solution — that’s the only solution. We stand by the mantra of “Only righteous fights” because there is no other solution. We must fight the righteous fight.

So let us stand together, hand in hand, as we march boldly into the future. For though the road may be difficult, the destination is more than worth the journey. And together, we will build a world where justice truly does prevail, and where every voice is heard, and every life is valued.

--

--

Nikia Miller

Boundless energy - various roles in my 7 Habits, Mom, Wife, defender of the universe, etc.