Tezlyn Figaro doesn’t just talk about it; she is about it. The veteran political activist, consultant and speaker is on a mission to help Black people “Politic Until Something Happens” – and her tenacity continues to produce tangible results.
Last month, hundreds of people flew to Atlanta, Georgia, to attend Figaro’s inaugural “Push The Line” nonpartisan political bootcamp. After the event, many attendees gave rave reviews.
Here are 11 things to know about Tezlyn Figaro, the bold leader training others to effectively engage in the political process so Black people won’t continually lose in federal, state and local legislative policy decisions.
As the founder of a namesake, award-winning firm, Figaro is deeply experienced in politics. She’s worked with an array of individuals, groups and organizations as a trainer and consultant for over 15 years.
“Most of my trainings have been working with different groups, organizations, one-on-ones, and a lot of coaching with thought leaders and groups,” Figaro said in an exclusive interview with Moguldom Nation.
Figaro holds a master’s degree in adult education and frequently uses her knowledge to build culturally-competent curriculums.
“Creating programs and curriculums with objectives and goals is a passion of mine,” Figaro said. “I train from as young as 13 all the way to the complete opposite end of the spectrum, which is actually going into the prisons and training.”
On Saturday, September 10, over 250 people converged at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta, Georgia, to attend the “Push The Line” training.
A press release about the training said its goal was to support “members of the community who have a desire to understand how to advance in politics in an effort to create change in the community.”
Training topics included: team roles and responsibilities, community coalition building, campaign planning, compliance and campaign management.
Figaro said she personally engaged participants multiple times over a four-month period. According to an emailed statement from Figaro, attendees came from various states, including Georgia, Louisiana, California, Nebraska, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Texas.
“I want to emphasize how the trainees were engaged for four months. We sent out pre-homework and a political glossary … and there will be follow-up,” Figaro said. “A lot of this was to show it could be done … and to ask why other leaders are not doing it.”
Many trainees shared their experiences after the training.
“It’s so important that we have a blend of our seniors and our youth. Over the years, I’ve gone through training camps with regards to politics, and no one ever sets expectations. They just give us the information, and it’s a blah and we all go away, and nothing happens,” one trainee said. “But here, I feel like for the first time, and I’ve been out here for a long time working on behalf of the community. I feel like for first time … I actually have real information that I can share with my community to make a major change in Virginia Beach.”
“I’ve always found myself at crossroads or in-between, not knowing one issue or the other and so what I gained here is tools to help me to figure out what my purpose was,” another trainee said. “I had no idea what I wanted to do, what my issue was, what I supported, what I was passionate about; and I leave here today just completely inspired and fired up.
“This is the exact toolkit I needed to rejuvenate my passion,” said another trainee who said she is battling Stage 4 lung cancer. “Tezlyn thank you so much for your fire, for your commitment, for your dedication to us and I pray that the legacy I leave behind is as firing and as solid as the one that you are building for us.”
“It’s 1822 that Harriet Tubman was born and exactly 200 years later Tezlyn Figaro is doing this,” another attendee added.
After attending the most popular political trainings in the country, Tezlyn Figaro said she noticed something was missing from all of them.
“I have attended many of the most recognized training programs in the country in the political space, but I have always found that there was a gap that was not centered on what it means to work in this space as a Black candidate, operative and organizer,” Figaro told Moguldom.
She noted that the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) does offer what they advertise as nonpartisan political training but said her experience attending over a decade ago made her question the full accuracy of the claim.
“Although the CBC does offer a nonpartisan training program, the reality is that in order for me to attend that boot camp in 2010, a Democratic congresswoman had to recommend me to attend that program, so you leave the program feeling obligated to the Democrat party,” Figaro said.
She acknowledged the process could have changed since she attended because they now have an application process.
“At the time that I went, you had to be sent by an elected official. That to me is very much kind of like in the streets, ‘What’s not said is already understood,'” Figaro continued. “Although you’re saying it’s nonpartisan, if a Democrat is sending me to that program, and they’re making that investment, naturally, they would want you to come out of that program and utilize those tools to further their agenda.”
Figaro stressed it was “really important” to note she was “not minimizing” the CBC training. “I really want to make a distinction” between what they do and “what I am doing.”
“As a trainee, I felt out of place; I felt like there wasn’t anyone that could connect to me,” Figaro explained as an alum of the CBC training.
Figaro is clear that her work in politics is not due to her desiring a career but rather because she is following her calling. She wants to help other people do the same.
“My strategy is, and has always been if you don’t like what you see, in the words of Biggie Smalls, ‘Don’t chase them, replace them,'” Figaro said. “We have got to build a bench to address the needs of Black Americans. I’m tired of talking about why the DNC won’t build a bench, so I’ve taken it upon myself, one woman with one child, to build a bench because they are not building it, or at least not with the type of leadership that I want to see.”
“It’s a boot camp for real. I want real soldiers. I want people to have real skin in the game,” Figaro said. “Saying that Black people are not hungry for change, that’s a lie. … What I found as a result of engaging these people, that room had just as many Black men as Black women.”
Figaro undergirded her statement by explaining people were standing in line to get into the training at 6:15 a.m., although it didn’t begin until 7 a.m.
“We trained people on how to be a candidate, operative and organizer,” Figaro explained. “This was about not just working on a campaign but also how to organize around an issue like reparations or prison reform.”
As someone who does not mince words when delivering her message, Figaro has earned a reputation as an outspoken and fearless advocate for Black people in the political space.
Her brand of activism resonates so much with many everyday people in the grassroots space, Charlamagne Tha God nicknamed her the “Hood Whisperer.”
Earlier this year, Netflix released “CIVIL,” a documentary highlighting renowned civil rights attorney Ben Crump. Figaro was featured in the film as Crump’s senior public policy consultant.
In addition to being a political veteran, Tezlyn Figaro is a military veteran. She was an M-60 gunner in the United States Airforce reserves.
Her experience as a servicewoman informs how she approaches politics and life in general.
“It’s with the drill sergeant tone I approach this work. [When I went to] boot camp, the moment I got off the bus, [they said] let’s go ahead and break you so that I can build you back up; or just go home or go AWOL,” Figaro said. “So that’s my approach in politics and it works. It doesn’t work for everybody, but it does work.”
Those who want to dive deeper into Figaro’s perspective on political topics can tune in to her “Straight Shot, No Chaser” podcast. Listeners can find it on iTunes, iHeart, Audible, Spotify and YouTube.
Figaro isn’t planning to stop anytime soon. She said there will be future trainings for current and future political candidates, operatives and organizers.
For more information or to stay updated, text PUSHTHELINE (all one word) to 66866.
PHOTOS: Tezlyn Figaro, left. (Photo Courtesy of TezlynFigaro.com) Images From Push The Line Nonpartisan Bootcamp held in Atlanta, Goergia on Sept. 10, 2022. (Screenshots: Twitter / @Tezlyn Figaro)