I am a believer in affirmations. A friend left this poem on my facebook wall and I wanted to share it with everyone:
Do not be daunted
by the enormity
of the world’s grief.
Do justly, now.
Love mercy, now.
Walk humbly, now.
You are not obligated
to complete the work,
are you free
to abandon it.
It is hard to know what to write here. There is so much emotion connected to the anniversary weekend, what this action meant, and what this picture means, to me personally but also to the movement.
The picture above is powerful. Emerging from a weekend that was a mix of jubilation and violence, it speaks to the very best elements of this movement. There is Black Girl Magic all over the front page of the New York Times. In the foreground, Kenna and Alice holding hands with Rev. Sekou. Behind them, a row of celebrities and locals. Auriel Brown , Alexis, Renita, Dr. Cornel West, Tory Russell, Rev. Michael McBride, Rev. Traci Blackmon, Rahiel Tesfamariam.
Below, you can see the entire front line, including JasiriX, Nabeehah Azeez, Bishop Selders, Bree Newsom, Cornell Lewis, Jazmin Wilson, Rev. Starsky, and others.
DALP worked for months with Faith in Ferguson, Lisa Fithian, and the Ferguson Action Council planning this action. It was an incredible honor to march with everyone present, and I'm so proud of how this action went.
In every picture taken of this action, the movement lives. Queer and trans Black people were at the front of the action always, leading chants, drumming, marching. Elders, heroines, gang affiliated people, white allies, clergy people all marched together.
The original plan was to attempt to enter the DOJ and present a set of demands in line with the DOJ report. That morning, in light of the use of chemical weapons against protestors in Ferguson the nights previous, we amended the demands to include the dissolution of the Ferguson Police Department, and we decided that we should make them come downstairs to speak with us, which they refused.
After the last arrestee was brought into the DOJ building, the rest of us turned our backs on the DOJ and Rev. Traci Blackmon led a 4.5 min moment of silence in honor of Mike Brown. We then marched back to Kiener Plaze and Tawanda Jones (sister of Tyrone West, who was killed by Baltimore Police) led a closing prayer.
Deep Abiding Love, which is now based in St. Louis, is coordinating the training schedule for the #UnitedWeFight week in commemoration of the murder of Mike Brown.
The Coming to Ferguson curriculum.
This curriculum has been a vision of ours since November, 2014 and after lots of work and help from many people, it is published and out in the world for anyone to use!
From Ethan Vesely-Flad:
On August 9, 2014, after Mike Brown, Jr. was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, an uprising began. In the weeks and months following his death, many people have traveled to Ferguson with good intentions — yet some have ultimately done a great deal of damage.
The “Coming to Ferguson: Building a Nonviolent Movement” curriculum, released at the occasion of the one-year commemoration of Mike Brown’s murder, is designed to help you think intentionally and intensively about whether or not to come to Ferguson — and if you do, how to understand your role, your preconceptions and biases, and how to provide solidarity that is helpful and not hurtful.
Developed by the Deep Abiding Love Project, with the support of the Fellowship of Reconciliation.
Download “Coming to Ferguson” (PDF, 2.7MB) and the additional resources and activities (PDF, 2.5MB), or browse the embedded documents here. Feel free to print, copy or share these documents with others!
Through the generous support of some community partners, I was able to travel to Ferguson for the Alianza hosted by Hands Up United on January 15, 2015. The Alianza (Alliance) was a convergence of the Black & Brown communities to talk about the way structural oppression effects both communities and ways that we can work together to fight back.
There has already been some good reporting on the Alianza - it was an incredible event. Rebel Diaz and Rosa Clemente were key speakers. There was space for people in attendance to share stories of their experience with racism. We talked about ways to build together in the future - how to be united in the struggle for freedom.
I'm so grateful that I was able to travel to Ferguson for this event. I have struggled personally with what my allyship (or freedom fighter status, or accomplice-ness, depending on who you're talking to) should look like. I am a light-skinned Chicana, and I have really struggled with the connections and also divisions that police violence in Black and Brown communities creates. Yes, Latinxs are also affected by state sanctioned violence in many of the ways that Black people are (and at much higher rates than other non-Black POC), but most of us (I can not forget Afro-Latinxs) are not subject to the centuries long deep systemic oppression that is anti-Black racism. So how do we stand in solidarity?
Rebel Diaz describes it as "hood to hood solidarity." He came to Ferguson at first to support a friend who is Mike Brown's cousin. It was that simple for him. He comes from an over-policed neighborhood, and going to stand in support of another over-policed neighborhood seemed right. He describes this united front of Black and Brown people as "white supremacy's worst nightmare."
The question now is how does this translate to scale? How do we do it in Boston? How do we organize in occupied neighborhoods? How do we connect the violence our communities face together without losing the emphasis on the idea that Black Lives Matter - and that this is a movement for and about Black Liberation - all people will be liberated when Black people are.
The Alianza raised these questions - and Black and Brown leadership committed to finding an answer. Awesome.
My intention sitting down today was to write a blog about this weekend, what I was doing, who I've met, who we can thank for making it possible. But I realize I want to chronicle where we've been first!
In the last month (it's only been a month!) we have co-hosted Ferguson Shareback with Intelligent Mischief, held 5 nonviolent direct action trainings in Boston, training about 500 activists and organizers in nonviolent direct action theory and basics with medic and/or street safety presentations and know your rights training at each event.
Boston to Ferguson Share back:
I loved this event! We had about 150 people show up to hear about our experiences in Ferguson, talk about what it was really like on the ground, and share their personal stories. We went through the timeline of events after the murder of Mike Brown, asked participants to share their memories on post-it notes. There was time at the end for a community speak out.
Our first NVDA training:
At the First Church in Jamaica Plain, our first training drew so much interest we had to change venues at super short notice. People banded together and did a pot luck style dinner (including panini's, thanks to the Lucy Parson's Center). We had about 250 people all together.
Last weekend we held our first youth-only training with our new (as of yet unnamed) high school partner group.
This Friday we're holding our first Creative Action Design Lab, a space to do deep visioning and detailed logistical planning for upcoming #ReclaimMLK actions.
Next week we're co-sponsoring a two hour medic training with the Tufts Pan African Association.
Damon Davis Comes to Boston:
Boston Youth Creative Strategies for NVDA:
Our first youth training! There were youth from local youth organizing groups and individuals who want to plug in and learn. We did a story-based strategy session and the groups came up with some seriously innovative ideas. We ended the workshop a little early so that the group could see Selma, where we did the #SingInSelma action, marching from the theater to the lobby and holding that space briefly. So good.
We've been able to do so much thanks to the support of our community - and we're working on building our capacity. The collective is growing! We started with just two and now we have 6 core members and many partners, collaborators, friends and accomplices who give us life. Thank you!