In 2016, Diane Latiker was named by L’Oréal Paris as one of ten Women of Worth honorees. The Chicago Tribune called Latiker a “remarkable woman” in a feature on the Chicago activist and lauded community organizer. The mother of eight is the founder of the nonprofit, Kids off the Block, which essentially helps children in her community get off the streets. By opening up her own home to children, Latiker offers youngsters who might have been tempted by gangs and drugs, a safe haven filled with educational and recreational resources. Now Diane Latiker is challenging other women to take a stand in their own communities, and use their power for good with a movement called Fierce Over 40. This Saturday, April 8, the initiative kicks off at the Black Women’s Expo in Chicago. We spoke to Latiker about the movement and its goals.
You are obviously a strong community organizer who has made a great impact on your community in Chicago with the organization you started called Kids off the Block. Where did you get this sense of involvement?
I got it from my Mom. Her favorite phrase was “you will stand for something or fall for everything.” She taught me that when the power was in my hands to do right, do it! Her words and actions taught me to care about others, sometimes more than myself.
What inspired you to start Fierce over 40?
I spoke at the Women’s March on Chicago in January and when I was leaving, so many women stopped me to ask how they could do the same thing or just “do something.” Many women are tired of just being mad about issues in their communities, so I thought, what if I could inspire them and those like them to turn off their computers and physically tackle the problems where they live.
What impact do you think the Women’s Marches across the country had on our society?
For me personally, the marches made me want to do more. As a woman, I wanted to show my support, and get involved in any way I could to help. As for a society, I think it was an eye-opener, showing that we will stand together across racial, gender, and sex lines for one common goal. The world got to see what Unity and Action look like up close!
What is your hope for the Fierce over 40 initiative?
My hope is to empower, inspire and bring impactful change to the world through “our” eyes. I believe women hold the power to do just that.
Do you plan to one day make this a global mission?
Yes, but more importantly, a local mission first and foremost.
What is your advice to a singular woman who might want to get involved in something like this, but who might think she can make a difference on a larger scale?
I’d ask her to take a look around her house and ask herself: if she goes down through sickness, what happens to her household? I’d ask her to imagine taking that power she has in her home out into her neighborhood/community and use it to impact the causes she cares about.
You were named a Top 10 CNN Hero in 2010. What was that experience like?
It was one of the most exciting, amazing experiences of my life! The exposure and support I received was just phenomenal, it will always be the highlight of my life!
What’s one piece of advice you’ve always followed?
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” –Margaret Mead
What can we as women do to build each other up?
I feel that if we put away negative perceptions that have been fed to us, about us, through media, we could see each other differently. We are not the portrayal that society has given us of each other. The bible says “if want friends, you must first show yourself friendly.” Let’s reach out to one another. There’s so much unity and power when we do!