After two whirlwind days of assaulting the systemic injustice issues we’re seeking to dismantle, attendees reconvened thirsty for more. CJSF’s Allison Brown welcomed us back with a story about her great grandfather, whose strength speaks to her today.
Looking to our ancestors to unlock the possibilities of tomorrow was a common theme. The day’s plenary focused on the need for intergenerational, intercultural and interracial collaboration in order to overcome oppressive social structures. AFF’s Leticia Peguero was joined by Umi Selah of Dream Defenders and Hector Sanchez-Flores of National Compadres Network.
Hector’s wise words resonated with the audience as he dropped “gotitas de bendicion.” While they were all great (check out our Twitter feed to see more), the one that resonated the most was, “La cultura cura.” Culture cures all. He urged everyone to look back in order to move forward and search within their own cultural traditions to endure “la lucha.” He also stressed the importance of historically oppressed peoples finding common ground in order to heal together. Only when ALL children are regarded as sacred, can they thrive.
Meanwhile, Umi championed the power of music to bring people together—especially young people. He harkened back to his own upbringing and credits music as a motivating factor to excel in school. He took us to church (it was Sunday, after all) and encouraged us to invite more musical opportunities into the room. “Music has the power to move people,” he said.
Following the plenary, attendees broke into several learning circles. They served as an intimate way for folks discuss the issues we’ve been dissecting all weekend. This also provided space for alliances to be forged.
After lunch, we were joined by youth as young as 11 years old as they presented their ideas and applications for youth justice. The innovative solutions these young people created were impressive. The grand prize-winning team went to Uplift and their website that gives LGBTQ youth a safe space online.
Closing the convening on an emotional high, attendees shared their reactions and the empowerment they were taking home. Then, we were surprised with Blackbird, a poem from a youth attendee from Chicago. Her words spoke the truth of our collective struggle. Finally, we reaffirmed our solidarity with our brothers and sisters at Standing Rock. “I am a revolutionary,” reverberated from the walls and will reverberate in our hearts and minds well after we close Education Anew 2016.