Local philanthropist and community member Curtis Reliford of the Follow Your Heart Action Network tells a chilling story of racially-motivated hatred he experienced recently while fundraising on West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz. According to Curtis, who is black, a white man approached him aggressively yelling racial epithets, broke his flag stick and threw it at him, injuring his leg. He has attempted to file a police report and request legal assistance but so far no one has taken up his case. He asked during the interview, “does my life matter?” Curtis points out the gap between message and action as local businesses post signs with “Black Lives Matter”, yet he is having trouble getting legal assistance.
Reliford has spent the last decade collecting goods for people living in poverty and driving them to Native American reservations such as the Hopi nation, Standing Rock, and Pine Ridge. He says he feels called spiritually to do this work and has a strong sense of purpose in life. Although his recent experience has given him pause, he remains committed to his mission of helping those who have the least.