They’re marching and singing at protests, organizing dialogues, writing articles, and speaking truth to power. In other words, they’re doing what Seeds do: taking action for change.
Below is a running list of ways that members of the Seeds of Peace community have supported the Black Lives Matters movement and called for justice, unity, and racial equity over the past few weeks; we’ll continue to update the list as we learn of more. Have a project or a personal story related to the Black Lives Matter movement that you want to share? Let us know.
In the media
• Commentary: No one is above the law—end ‘qualified immunity’ for police
Shelby (2003 American Seed) co-authored an opinion piece in the Portland Press Herald that calls for reform to a law that would make it legally easier to hold police officers more accountable for their actions:
“Ending qualified immunity will not end police violence, but is an important step toward holding police accountable … Democrats and Republicans can agree that no one is above the Constitution—especially not the government officials who have sworn to protect it.”
• The police were designed to take black and Palestinian lives, not to protect them
In this piece for +972 Magazine, Ashraf (2015 Fellow) connects the lines between police brutality on Black lives in the U.S., and on Brown ones in the Middle East:
“We must understand that the knee on George Floyd’s neck in Minneapolis is attached to the arm that choked the life out of Eric Garner in New York. It is attached to the finger that pulled the trigger on Razan al-Najjar in Gaza two years ago, and Eyad Hallak in Jerusalem on Saturday. It is attached to the foot that walked away from Ayman Safiah, rather than swiftly help and bring closure to his loved ones. It is attached to the hand that silences rape survivors, that confiscates homes, that signs fascistic laws, that occupies land, that holds back funding to healthcare, and that pumps poison into our environment, until all of us cannot breathe—just like Ayman, Eric, George, and Iyad.”
“We talked and we prayed before we went out, knowing we could get clubbed and maced and hosed down by huge fire engines—but what gave us courage was that we went out singing.”
In his first article for Forbes, Micah (2004 American Seed, 2015 GATHER Fellow) talked with social justice leaders about the power of song in the Civil Rights Movement, and its role in today’s struggles for equality and justice.
Micah also organized a choir and Juneteenth event. He is working with conductors in the Washington, D.C., area to start a local branch of Justice Choir, a social justice choir with chapters across the United States. Justice Choir-D.C. helped organize the “Juneteenth Solidarity Sing for Black Lives.”
• Fiona (2019 Maine Seed) helped organize a Black Lives Matters protest and is fighting racism and inequality in her school.
“Protesting is a beautiful thing,” she told a crowd of over 300 people in June. “But I want to see support from all those people who were out there. When we get back during the school year, I want to see them at civil rights team meetings. I want to see them at school board meetings, giving their opinions about policies that are inequitable. We can’t just protest and be angry and do nothing with that.”
• Gracia and Christina organized a Juneteenth celebration and protest in Portland, Maine. Nearly 1,000 people attended a peaceful demonstration, which was organized by three young people—two of whom are 2017 Maine Seeds—and included a speech by Tim Wilson, senior advisor and director of Maine Seeds programs. Multiple Maine outlets covered the event and quoted speeches from Tim and Gracia, including these inspirational words from Gracia:
“Our message to the next generation is that being black is a gift. In a world that constantly participates in your erasure, you must claim these spaces and shout, ‘I am here.’ Your culture and heritage isn’t reflected properly within these classrooms, and these teachers will be complicit in silencing your voice. But again we will refute those notions and shout ‘I am here!’”
• Marcques (2011 Maine Seed) is making it easier to support Maine’s black communities by compiling a list of Black-owned business.
• A group of young people working with 2018 GATHER Fellow Molly has talked about everything from love to parental lies in their podcast, “This Teenage Life.” In a recent episode they shared their powerful and poignant views on police brutality and the #BlackLivesMatter movement. You can find it wherever you listen to podcasts or thisteenagelife.org. Want to learn more? @this.teenage.life. Want to get involved? email@example.com.
• June 7: Twenty-nine Los Angeles Seeds and three Seeds of Peace educators participated in a virtual dialogue and strategy session to process the events of the past week and explore ways they can be actively involved in addressing the two viruses currently confronting their world: structural racism and the coronavirus. Dialogue focused on what it means to be an ally in the fight against racial injustice and on acknowledging the concept of white privilege and the inherent biases which underlie it. Said one Seed: “Today I learned that to be a true ally I need to dig deep, reflect upon my whiteness and acknowledge the many implicit biases and power I hold. It’s not enough to post #Black Lives Matter, go to a protest or donate. It’s up to us whites to raise our voices within our own community to bring about justice and equality for all.”
• In early June, over 30 people attended an online affinity group for Black Seeds and other alumni in Maine.
• June 9, Racial Justice Virtual Dialogue: A dozen Seeds from the U.S. and U.K. delegations came together to share how the events of the two weeks following the murder of George Floyd have affected them personally, and explored questions around what promotes the difficult conversations that need to happen, what gets in the way, and why they are only happening now. The session was co-facilitated by a New York City Seed and two staff members.
• June 21, Black Lives Matters Seminar (India, Pakistan, Jordan): Over 40 Indian, Pakistani, and Jordanian Seeds and their peers examined local systems of oppression through the lens of the American Civil Rights and Black Lives Matter movements.
With guests Lolita Brayman (@lo.la.lita), a freelance writer and human rights lawyer, and Deportee (@deportee.music), a Detroit-based artist whose music reflects on the life and predicament of African descendants of slaves in the Americas, the participants learned from the successes and failures of these movements, as well as the importance of education, raising awareness, and engagement with the “other” in fighting all societal systems of oppression.
The details may differ, but oppression—as one Indian participant noted—wears the same face no matter its location
• June 28: Los Angeles Seeds youth activism and allyship dialogue: Los Angeles Deputy Mayor for Economic Opportunity, Brenda Shockley, met with Seeds. Prior to joining the Mayor’s team, Shockley led Community Build, a non-profit she helped found in 1992 to revitalize the inner-city community in the wake of the Rodney King protests. During her time there she secured investments in excess of $100 million for education, employment and job training for young people. Shockley discussed the importance of youth activism and the role young people can play in influencing policy. Following her presentation, the Seeds engaged in dialogue with her about how to be a true ally. “It’s clear that if we are going to change institutions, we need to change people,” said Alexis, a 2016 Seed.
Photo courtesy of Fred Bever/Maine Public