Talking GOOD with Zeke Berzoff-Cohen

Zeke Berzoff-Cohen is a name that consistently comes up in Baltimore when people talk about social justice. Zeke works tirelessly to change the world around him, and so far he’s making quite an impact. Zeke is the Executive Director and co-founder of The Intersection, an organization that teaches Baltimore City youth community organizing skills so they have the power and know-how to change the world around them.

It seems that Zeke has been constantly working towards helping others realize their full potential. As a student at Goucher College he created the Social Justice Grant Program to help fund student work in low-income communities. After graduation Zeke taught middle school for Teach For America. Zeke wanted his students to take pride in their community and set about creating a tailored curriculum that taught his students the history of Baltimore’s Sandtown neighborhood as jazz cultural center. Zeke wanted to make sure that the education his students received could be relatable and engaging. In addition, he brought a group of eighth graders to New Orleans to rebuild homes. For his work he was awarded the Elizabeth Lawrence Prize for Excellence as a Young Educator.

Zeke is an immense source of inspiration. He gets people excited about activism and is tackling huge socio-economic problems in Baltimore. I can’t wait to see what future projects Zeke will undertake. Thanks for taking time to answer our questions Zeke!

1. IN JUST ONE SENTENCE, WHAT IS YOUR PURPOSE IN LIFE? My purpose in life is to build power behind student voices in rust-belt cities like Baltimore and Detroit.

2. WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH BEFORE YOU “EXPIRE?” I’d like to make poverty the number one issue that all academics and politicians feel responsible to fix.

3. IF YOU COULD MEET WITH ANYONE (ALIVE), WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHAT WOULD YOU ASK THEM? I’d meet with Wes Moore and ask him to come back to Baltimore.

4. WHAT WOULD THE TITLE OF YOUR BOOK BE? Sleep is Overrated.

5. WHO WOULD PLAY YOU, IN A MOVIE ABOUT YOUR LIFE? Brad Pitt.  Just kidding probably Paul Giamatti.

6. WHAT IS A BELIEF THAT IS CORE TO YOUR BEING? I believe that all people deserve an opportunity to achieve and reach for their dreams.

7. WHO ARE YOUR HEROES? James Baldwin.  Malcolm X.  Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.  Cory Booker.  Bob Dylan.  Dorothy Parker.  Woody Guthrie.  Fannie Lou Hamer.

8. IF YOU WEREN’T DOING THIS, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING? Teaching or working on progressive political campaigns.

9. TELL US SOMETHING SURPRISING ABOUT YOURSELF. I was a horrendously bad student until junior year of High School when I started taking classes at Smith College.

10. WHAT QUESTION DO YOU WISH I HAD ASKED? What is the best taco joint in Baltimore?  Tortilleria Sinaloa in Fells Point.

ORGANIZATIONAL LINKS: The Intersection main site, Facebook page, Twitter feed, YouTube page