“Here, you might be interested in this. They’re a Quaker organization.” I look down at the title: "MARStar: Newsletter of the Middle Atlantic Region, American Friends Service Committee." The cover has a large image of protestors holding signs. “Cool,” I say out loud. I turn the pages and see words I’ve never seen before -- “social justice” “activists” “the prison industrial complex.” Immediately, I recognize that this magazine, this document, is something significant, something important, something I am connected to. For the first time in my life, I feel proud to be a Quaker.
St. Louis resident Diamond Latchison joined the protests five days after Mike Brown’s death. “Once I started seeing firsthand what the people were doing and what the police were doing, I never left,” she says.
The human experience is a beautifully complex one. In our 21st century lives, it seems that our online newspapers, twitter feeds, and emails are filled with stories of hate, injustice, oppression and violence. We often need to look a little deeper to find the stories of hope, faith, compassion, and love, and by the time we get to them, we are often too weighed down with challenging stories to recognize the uplifting ones. But we must be resilient. We must stay encouraged.
Note: Recently Lia Lindsey, Policy Impact Coordinator for AFSC, traveled to Geneva with a delegation to testify to the UN Committee against Torture about solitary confinement in the United States. She joined many others, including Mike Brown's parents, to bring the voices of those most impacted to the halls of the United Nations to consider actions to disrupt injustice, including solitary confinement, in the United States. - Lucy
Since August I’ve seen banners, signs, Facebook statuses, and Tweets with the message “Pray for peace in St. Louis.” I’ve heard prayers for peace as people of faith gather in response to events in Ferguson, MO. In recent days I’ve seen an increase in the calls to pray as people waited for the Grand Jury announcement. I’m tired of hearing the calls for peace. Let me be clear: I do not want violence, destruction, or death. I care about the well-being of all parties from police to protesters. However, when I see some call for peace I don’t think they understand it to mean what I understand it to mean.
Note: This is the second installment of a series of three interviews with people who are living out Quaker values through their healing justice work. The first, an interview with Philadelphia Quaker and organizer J. Jondhi Harrell, can be read here.
Note: Liz Oppenheimer is a Quaker who has been very involved in supporting AFSC's Healing Justice program in Minneapolis. During Ferguson October she traveled to St. Louis and participated in protests and in supporting activists on the ground. The experience opened her eyes and led her to wonder about Quaker readiness to lend support to the communities of color most impacted by police brutality and other injustice. These are some of her reflections on her time in Ferguson, with an invitation to Quakers to become engaged and activated as allies in this movement.
AFSC is a Quaker organization devoted to service, development, and peace programs throughout the world. Our work is based on the belief in the worth of every person, and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice. Learn more
Where we work
AFSC has offices around the world. To see a complete list see the Where We Work page.