Hope is in the Air after Charleston
I left the first Move to End Violence (MEV) convening of cohort #3 full of hope and fire. My head was spinning with everything I had experienced. I carried the seeds of new possibilities for collaboration. I felt lifted and stronger. The darkness of the act of terror committed in Charleston had cast a shadow on us, but deepened my resolve and commitment to this work.
After the convening, I had a short flight back to Los Angeles. I settled into my window seat, when a man, probably in his 60s, sat next to me. We exchanged a few pleasantries and then each put on headphones. In the middle of the flight, he noticed that I was watching news about the Charleston shooting. He tapped me on the shoulder and told me this story. “You know I went to Georgia Tech in the late Sixties,” his voice breaking and eyes welling, he apologized for getting emotional, “I was there in 1968. On April 4th, when I heard about the killing of Dr. King, I went straight to Ebenezer Baptist Church. I was one of the very few white people who was there that night…and this, this is still happening in 2015.” This stranger sitting next to me had just shared a powerful, personal story and his sense of hopelessness was raw.
It was just chance that I happened to be sitting next to this man on my way home, and that he decided to share his story with me. But I was glad that I was able to tell him about my time at the Move to End Violence convening. I reminded him about Dr. King’s vision of Beloved Community and shared how we are working to create it. I told him that each of the inspiring cohort members I had just met was doing incredible anti-violence work in their communities through their own amazing organizations. I told him about my work at Just Detention International. I shared how grateful I was to be surrounded by a community of people who are working to create a better world, especially at a time when we are confronted with such senseless violence and hatred. I encouraged him to join us in the work in some way because it will take many of us working together to build the kind of world we wish to live in. He was visibly moved. He thanked me, and he thanked us over and over again. He said he would reach out to us. I hope he does.
Learn more about Move to End Violence’s practice of Beloved Community.