Activists come together with one message

Photo Courtesy of muslims for social justice

Photo Courtesy of muslims for social justice

Sijal Nasralla, center, was a panel speaker about activism in relation to the blacklivesmatter movement.

 By Catie ByrneStaff Writer

Published in print Jan 21, 2015.

On Thursday, Jan. 15, the American Friends Service Committee hosted an evening to discuss police brutality, community organizations and personal concerns in regards to the Black Lives Matter movement in the Curry building.

    The first activity of the night was a viewing of the National Panel on Police Violence and Militarization, livestreamed from Baltimore. The livestream featured Eddie Conway, Ex-Black Panther, Black Lives Matter community organizers and national representatives of organizations centrally focused on issues concerning black lives.

    At 7 p.m., the large gathering of protesters, activists and concerned citizens, had the opportunity to participate in their own panel, featuring local, primarily college-aged activists. Alyzza May, Irving Allen, Chelsea Yarborough, Sijal Nasralla and Luis Aguilera Garcia shared their experiences within their realm of activism as well as how it intersects and parallels the Black Lives Matter movement.

    Alyzza May, representative of Greensboro Mural Project, said that murals are an important community tool in Greensboro as they cross cultural barriers and seek to highlight artistic volunteers within the community.

    The Greensboro Mural Project’s wiki said, “Murals define the cultural identity of a neighborhood or an entire city”, and “have proven to assist in raising property values without gentrification.”

    Irving Allen, representative of Beloved Community Center, said that his work focuses on a multifaceted grassroots effort to establish black/brown unity, police accountability, economic justice, civic engagement and provide resources to the homeless.

    The mission statement on their website says its goal is, “to foster and model a spirit of community based on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision of a ‘Beloved Community.’ In this spirit, we envision and work toward social and economic relations that affirm and realize the equality, dignity, worth and potential of every person.”

    Chelsea Yarborough, activist and   Greenleaf Coffee Co-Op volunteer, described the Co-Op as a local, community-centered environment, meaning Greenleaf is a transparent environment and forum for issues concerning its customers and volunteers.

    For Yarborough, these issues intersect the rejection of capitalistic business practices, Guilford College’s Sexual Assault Awareness, Support & Advocacy Organization, reproductive rights and the “Black Lives Matter” movement. In discussing this intersection, Yarborough said that all of her advocacy concerns the Black Lives Matter movement, explaining that the economic development of the local community, and physical and sexual safety and agency of women, shape her life and future as black woman living in Greensboro.

    Sijal Nasralla, representative of Muslims For Social Justice, said that as a Palestinian, he believes there are numerous parallels between the injustices that people in Palestine and Ferguson have experienced and are fighting to change. He emphasized the importance of black and brown unity within the Black Lives Matter movement, as social, human and economic injustices touch people of color around the world.

    Muslims For Social Justice’s Facebook page elaborates upon these injustices with a list of goals for, “Ending discrimination at work, safe working conditions, fair wages, protecting and expanding voting rights and civil rights, fully funded constitutional education, ending disparities in the criminal justice system, healthcare for all – protecting medicaid, medicare and fair and just immigration reform.”

    Luis Aguilera Garcia, an activist for undocumented immigrants and queer people, represents the organizations El Cambio and GetEQUAL. El Cambio, meaning “The Change,” is described on their website as, “A grassroots organization based in Yadkin County dedicated and committed to the establishment of an immigrant and minorities’ rights movement in the state of North Carolina that upholds the values of education, justice and equality for all people,” while GetEQUAL focuses on LGBTQ rights. 

    For Garcia, both of these issues are personally applicable to his life. Garcia said that he is an example of the “intersectionality” of social justice movements.

    As an undocumented immigrant and queer person, he stands in solidarity with Black Lives Matter. Garcia said that the emphasis on marginalized groups should not be viewed narrowly, as there are black undocumented immigrants and black queer people fighting for the same rights as he is.

Categories: Catie Byrne, Features

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