Cassandra Harris-Lockwood K’74 is happy to be a member of the “Hamily,” yet she is a proud Kirkland graduate. Fresh from Woodstock in 1969, she entered the College on her 18th birthday, greeted by a banner of “Free Bobby Seale” over the portico of what became the Black and Latinx Student Union.
She’s been in the news — or, rather, the airwaves — recently as a panelist for National Public Radio’s game show “Says You!.” “I first thought I couldn’t compete at that level,” Harris-Lockwood said. “But they kept at me, insisting. I finally relented and Zoomed a few shows.”
In 2016, she bought two AM radio stations and launched Phoenix Radio, Inc., based in Utica, N.Y. She moderates a daily progressive talk show, “The Hot Seat,” and recently did a segment with physicians about the pandemic. “That was especially useful to minority populations who have had trouble accessing the vaccines,” she said.
Harris-Lockwood’s social activism is ongoing, in and around her home near Utica. She’s the founder and chief executive officer of For the Good, (FTG) Inc.; editor of its related newsmagazine, The Utica Phoenix; and founder of the Study Buddy Club at Hamilton. The club pairs high-schoolers with college tutors. She also developed Utica’s community gardens and is a writer and producer of theatre and television musicals.
She explained that she just didn’t become an activist. “I was born one, from the womb,” Harris-Lockwood noted. Born in Washington, D.C., she learned of racism through her college-educated parents, who moved the family to Utica in the early 1950s. There, the family faced fierce housing discrimination.
They settled in nearby Marcy, where in third grade Harris-Lockwood fought off her first bully. Her parents taught her to fight back if someone called her the “n” word. “It happened the first day of school,” she said.
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In high school, first in Whitesboro and then at Utica Free Academy, she held offices in the student council, served as class president, and took Advanced Placement courses. She decided on Kirkland at a college night, drawn to its alternative approach.
Ever the activist, in College she co-founded the Womyn’s Center and majored in fine arts and dance. She worked summers as a construction worker, and accepted scholarships at Alvin Ailey Dance and the Dance Theater of Harlem. Post-grad, Harris-Lockwood worked in theatre production for the major Black Broadway shows of the day. She returned to Clinton in 1979, where she and her husband raised a son.
She has her eyes on future activism to support her ventures. “Securing FTG and these important community programs is key. Phoenix Media will establish the economic engine and assure the people’s voice has strength and sustainability,” she said.