Three years on, I’m still humbled by the size and magnitude of support for my campaign. My team and I were blown away by each and every person who decided to use their precious time and treasure to support our cause. My gratefulness has only deepened with time, since in hindsight I realize just how crazy and ambitious we were. It’s easy to hop on a bandwagon, but taking a flier on a nobody with a big dream is something different altogether.
My fervent wish is that everyone will be fortunate enough to have the experience I did during 2018: the ability to pursue their dream with their peers, mentors, and heroes standing behind them in support. Although I didn’t win my race, I decided that the best way to improve my community going forward was to pay the generosity of my supporters forward by making bold bets on other ambitious young people who are dreaming big.
At the beginning of this year, I happened to be browsing social media one day when I came across Kyle Villemain’s bold idea: to start a new magazine with deeply-reported long-form features on North Carolina, written by North Carolinians, for North Carolinians. It is called The Assembly.
I was immediately intrigued, because it hit several key points in the thesis behind my run for state office:
- North Carolina is ascendant, but our self-identity is still that of a sleepy, Southern state. We are not fully aware of, nor have we flexed, our full political and economic muscle.
- North Carolina is home to many intellectual and cultural powerhouses, but we have few local institutions to nurture and showcase them.
- North Carolina is a state rapidly diversifying in all aspects: economically, racially, culturally, generationally, and politically. Few people outside the state understand this, and many people who live here underestimate the scale of transformation underway.
North Carolinians deserve their own space to discuss the key issues of our state in the face of rapid change. I would absolutely love to see The Assembly grow into something like Texas Monthly or The California Sunday. But more fundamentally, it’s important to support young folks in this state who are shooting big like Kyle, just as I promised myself I would do several years ago. Kyle has been written off by the establishment because who the hell starts a long-form magazine whose main differentiator is nuance in this day and age, what with all the hysteria around fake news and newspapers closing throughout the state at an alarming rate and who wants to read about a boring state like North Carolina anyways?
But for many of us, The Assembly is more than just a business opportunity. It is the embodiment of the new North Carolina: thoughtful, considerate, and cosmopolitan yet grounded, humble, and respectful.
The Assembly has done some incredible work in its few short months of existence. Most notably, they broke important news around Nikole Hannah Jones’ fight for tenure which ended up becoming a national news story.
I’m very proud of Kyle and the work that The Assembly has accomplished in such a short period of time—not just with the stories they’ve published, but providing a place where world-class, North Carolina-based journalists and photographers can showcase their work. If you’d like to be a part of this movement, you can become a subscriber here.