Sunday, May 1, 2016

A Bigger Vision

The day after the Columbia elections is usually reserved for my "the hell with you all" post, as I lament abysmal turnout and the continued frenzy of one narrow band of residents to control everything in perpetuity. Not going to go there today. There's something more important to talk about. Something which is deeply rooted in the purpose of Columbia and bodes well for our future.

Yesterday, this happened:

Interfaith Youth Summit on Racial Justice – April 30, 2016

Featuring Artist and Activist Bree Newsome, Renowned African American and History Scholar Dr. Renee Harrison and Inspiring Youth Activist and Leader Makayla Gilliam-Price.

St John Baptist Church and the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia have joined forces to host the DMV Interfaith Youth Summit on Racial Justice from 9am-4pm @ St John Baptist Church in Columbia, Maryland.

As local high school students grow a grassroots movement supporting racial justice, we’ll have space to continue the conversations, deal with the beautiful and ugly history and keep the movement alive!

This all-day event, will bring together youth from different backgrounds across DC, MD and VA to have REAL conversations about RACE and opportunities to HEAL and be reconciled! We’ll walk through enslavement, Jim Crow, the Civil Rights Movement, reenact the sit-ins and discuss policies that have resulted in the current landscape of racial injustices. Youth will have an opportunity to share their experiences with racism in a setting where listening with intention and care is nurtured.

This experience will take place on multiple levels - listening and reflecting, speaking, art, music, movement and improv. By the end of the day, students will be empowered to ACT against racial injustice in their day-to-day lives and have amazing memories and new like-minded friends. This will be a life-changing experience for many!

If you want to know what this was all about, take a look at yesterday's posts on Twitter from Janelle Bruce @revjanekke_esq and Jade Fountain @fountain_jade .

As you might imagine, the desire to create this event had its roots in the racist video posted online by a Mount Hebron student and the school system's tone deaf response. It was an outgrowth in many ways to the voice of students saying "Stop the silence. Start a conversation." Members of St.John Baptist and the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Columbia have been active supporters of student voices throughout the Spring.

Some years ago, when the land on the corner of Tamar and 175 became the site of a new church for St. John Baptist, a number of vocal long-time residents registered their disapproval. "Columbia was never meant to have churches." "This goes against Rouse's Interfaith Center concept." That may be.

I think Mr. Rouse would have been pretty darned happy with what was going on there yesterday. Interfaith collaboration. Inter-racial, multi-cultural education and consciousness-raising. Long after CA elections are gone and the Pioneers' definition of Columbia is merely a footnote, the young people who gathered will be making our community, and our world, a better place.


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