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Texas Foster Care activist Candice Matthews says death threats won't stop her

A black civil rights activist in Texas who is notorious for “dropping the hammer when it comes to accountability on corruption” and who was targeted with a racist hate letter and a noose has spoken out about the threat Mission to protect foster children of color in the Lone will not stop Star State from abuse.

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast, Dr. Candice Matthews said she was scared “at first,” but that didn’t deter her.

“Ultimately, I am the voice of the people. I am the voice of the children, the voiceless. My job is to protect the unprotected and that’s what I will do,” she said.

Matthews doesn't mince her words as she raises the alarm on social media about alleged abuse faced by foster children in Texas and the government workers tasked with protecting them. Her TikTok videos have received hundreds of thousands of views about alleged corruption at Texas Health and Human Services (HHSC) and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS).

She gained widespread attention in early April for raising awareness of human trafficking in the Klein Independent School District and state child protective services by placing foster children in unregulated hotels.

Then on the morning of April 28 over breakfast, Matthews said she and her family discovered the threatening items when her sister went outside to check her car after someone in the neighborhood accidentally drove into it while a real estate agent was in the organized an open day nearby. Matthews' husband went outside to help his sister-in-law and found the hand-delivered note and noose.

That same day, Matthews uploaded a series of videos and photos to Instagram detailing what happened.

“I got a death threat and she's telling me to stay away from HHSC and DFPS business and stuff,” Matthews says in the video. She pans the camera to her mailbox, revealing a long black rope and a handwritten letter on brown parchment paper.

“That won’t stop me from exposing corruption,” she vows. “It will make it worse. Stay tuned.”

The next slide of the Instagram post showed the contents of the letter, written in block letters.

“DR Matthews[,] stay out of our dealings with DFPS and HHSC,” the letter said. “N—-r if you don’t[,] We'll use this rope to pull you like Jame[s] Bryd [sic]. Screw you n—-r and n—-r providers. You have been warned, n—-r!!”

James Byrd, to whom the letter refers, was a black man and the victim of a horrific hate crime in Jasper County, Texas, in 1998, when he was killed by three white men who chained him to the bed of a pickup truck and dragged his body for three miles. According to the Texas TribuneByrd's battered body was discovered outside a local black church before Sunday morning services.

Matthews told The Daily Beast that the letter was not in an envelope and looked like it came from “someone who really hates black people.”

“It looked very scary. My husband, my mother, my sister and all my family members were very upset,” she said

Matthews called the Harris County Sheriff, who described the incident as a “terrorist threat.” She explained that her address is not public because she has a professional license in Texas and believes only DFPS and HHSC know where she currently lives.

“That’s how I know it came from someone from both of those entities,” she claimed.

Since the incident, Matthews has had to tighten security around her home. She says she travels with bodyguards and even wears a bulletproof vest for protection. Sometimes she carries a pistol.

“It's a surreal moment because I never in a million years thought I would have to do this,” Matthews told The Daily Beast. “I never thought I would suffer such hatred. You know what, I won't stop. I'll just keep going. Because at the end of the day, if you don't say something, you're complicit. And I'm sorry, I won't be complicit at all. I'm not. I will not stop. I will keep fighting. They just made me regroup so I could fight harder.”

Matthews has been an activist in Texas for over 10 years. She is chair of the Texas Coalition of Black Democrats, national policy secretary for the New Black Panther Nation, and owner of the independent adoption agency Children of Diversity. She says she wears “multiple hats” when it comes to helping people of color and dismantling systemic injustice. He runs in similar professional circles with civil rights icon Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee and attorney Ben Crump.

Recently, Matthews served as a spokesman for the family of Darryl George, the black Texas teenager who was repeatedly reprimanded for wearing curls in public schools.

Much of Matthews' work focuses on protecting children of color involved in the foster care system, and she is quick to attack government officials and agencies that fail to protect them. In her interview with The Daily Beast, Matthews explained how many of the foster children live in slums without food or security, in close proximity to reported sex offenders and in areas where human trafficking is common.

“I am one of the most vocal providers here in the state of Texas because many other providers are afraid to even say anything because they fear retaliation,” Matthews said.

In turn, Matthews said false “deficiencies” and evaluations were reported to her adoption agency, leading to spontaneous in-person reviews by HHSC and Child Protective Services. She claimed that her agency had been put on hold and was unable to accommodate children, meaning there were fewer children and less government funding.

Still, Matthews, a Houston native, says she is committed to her mission and motivated to fight even harder. If they're going to such lengths to silence her, it means she's on to something that people are afraid to make public. Matthews is known to carry with her in these moments a version of Mjölnir, the infamous hammer of the Norse god Thor, which she uses as a tool to eliminate the hidden scum she keeps unearthing.

“Thor twirls Mjolnir around, and then he comes out and slams and everything crashes,” Matthews explained. “That’s what it looks like: all the corruption, all the injustice, all the stuff they do. When I hit this hammer everything will stop because I will reveal everything.”

Anna Harden

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