We had the good fortune of connecting with Marvin Lim and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Marvin, what do you attribute your success to?
In the political sphere, the “most important factor” would be internalizing the idea that, really, it’s not about me. Yes, I have compelling stories, personal concerns, and ideas – I don’t doubt that. But, even before my recent political endeavors, I already had some power, privilege, and platform to be able to translate those things into change. I’m not particularly ambitious for more of those things, and I’m far more concerned about those who have far more compelling, immediate needs – yet haven’t felt listened to, and feel understandably disaffected and disenfranchised. So I try to make an active, daily choice to put others – most of all, the residents of my district – front and center. To that end, one of the things I’m proudest of is having used my platform, namely social media, to voice the stories and concerns of over 100 residents in my district (see: instagram.com/marvinlimforga). I’ve also developed about 20 original resource guides to respond to what these folks have expressed as their *immediate* needs, on subjects ranging from “know your rights” to healthcare (see: marvinlimforga.com/neighborhood). It’s difficult to make systemic change. But, if we have any chance to do that, giving disaffected people space to use their voices is necessary. And, whether or not change actually happens on the level we want it to, there is great value in simply affirming what people are going through. I’d want that done for me, and I’m guessing you’d want it done for you, too.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Every one has a story, and here’s a brief version of mine: I’m an attorney primarily focusing on civil rights. Beyond that, I’m also active on sociopolitical issues and am an incoming State Representative for House District 99, which is in unincorporated Norcross, Lilburn, and Tucker in Gwinnett. (I’d be remiss if I didn’t say: come visit us and our many diverse and immigrant-owned restaurants and markets along Jimmy Carter Blvd. On I-85, its Exit 99 to HD 99!) Naturally, how I grew up very much shaped who I am now: I immigrated to the US and to Atlanta at the age of 7. Like most immigrants and people in general, we worked hard, but also struggled, benefitting from various forms of public assistance through the years. Eventually, I did become a citizen, but was almost immediately and incorrectly flagged as non-citizen voter. All of this inspired my professional track: I graduated from Emory University and Yale Law School, then worked for organizations like Catholic Charities in its refugee resettlement program and the ACLU of Georgia. Working in those fields, in turn, reinforced my sincere belief that empathy towards others – all of whom, again, have their own stories – is paramount. It’s a time where our country arguably needs to be united more than ever – at the very least to overcome a pandemic that has taught us (and how) that our individual actions impact people far beyond our immediate social sphere. So I feel both lucky and as well-equipped as I can be at this point, to be able to do work that, it is my hope, helps people feel less disaffected, divided, and isolated.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’ll use this opportunity to repeat my invitation to folks to come check out our many diverse, locally owned small restaurants, particularly along or near Jimmy Carter Blvd. I like to say that Buford Highway has got nothing on us, and you can see that for yourself by checking out “Local Business, Global Flavor” – a guide I developed to restaurants and markets in the area (marvinlimforga.com/neighborhood). I developed this before COVID-19 hit, but it’s been especially gratifying to be able to direct folks to support these small businesses in the wake of the pandemic. A few of my own favorite places are: Kokai Thai Bistro, Ding Tea for some delicious bubble tea, and La Mejor De Michoacan for ice cream. And there’s also so much more than food, as the diversity of our area is reflected in other attractions as well. For example, I also take visitors to some of our beautiful parks, like Lucky Shoals Park, where I frequently walk about myself. I saw a review once that walking through the park “is like taking a mini-world tour through Atlanta,” with all that’s going on that you’ll see, up to and including seeing even cricket games sometimes. And perhaps the pièce de résistance is a visit to BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir. A “mandir” is a Hindu place of worship – and BAPS is breathtaking.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Above all, this is dedicated to my family. They modeled for me the principle that kindness to all – particularly to those who have less, but also to ourselves – is more important than smarts or aesthetics.