The Dream is Alive in Richmond, CA

Authors: Tania Pulido, Green For All Fellowship Candidate As a first generation US Citizen with migrant parents from Mexico, my path into community development stems from the desire to combat the same racial, class, and gender injustices that my parents traveled to escape, but still face in North America. Growing up in the city of Richmond, CA, a community that has historically borne the brunt environmental racism, my understanding of social, political and economic issues were limited, and seemed far removed from being related to one another. Thankfully, through my involvement in community based organizations like Urban Tilth, The Ryse Center, and Green For All, I have expanded my knowledge of the interconnectivity between issues of health, environment and politics. Being able to take part of the Green for all Academy, as a fellow candidate in the 4th Class, has opened the door to new opportunities as well as provided me a wealth of resources, people, and information that make my work as a community organizer more effective. I am grateful to belong to a national organization with dedicated people who want to create a cleaner, safer and ultimately better future for all. This year on MLK Day I saw the power of that interconnectivity alive in hundreds of my youngest neighbors... Just days after 16 year-old Gene Grisby was gunned down in front of his grandmother’s home in Richmond, California – becoming the city’s first homicide of 2011 – over 400 school children rallied for peace on the Richmond Greenway, a stretch of hiking trail on the southern border of the Iron Triangle neighborhood.

MLK March from New America Media on Vimeo. The rally was just one of several events in recognition of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, which included the city’s fourth annual Peace March, where children and young adults carried signs demanding their right to live in a peaceful neighborhood. One of the highlights of the event were the mud balls, filled with seeds, that the school children were given to throw onto the soon-to-be “edible forest” being cultivated on the Richmond Greenway. The forest project is being sponsored by Urban Tilth, a Richmond non-profit committed to urban farming. “You are planting seeds of peace,” said Doria Robinson, Executive Director of Urban Tilth, who gave a powerful and empowering speech to the children. Then, over a hundred balls flew in the air, landing on the empty patch of grass. After the ball toss, the children continued their peace march down the Richmond Greenway to Lincoln Elementary School. Once they reached their destination, the children had a ceremony and a number of performances began. The children sang, danced, and recited spoken word poetry. Mayor Gayle McLaughlin also attended the event, and gave a speech to the children. As a young person living in Richmond, I can say that the Peace March was the most powerful event I have ever attended in my city. The energy of the children was unbelievable; it was an epic moment for me to see them demanding peace and chanting together until the end, despite a long day of marching. I have participated in other marches, but this one was the most energetic, memorable and empowering. At least on this day, a diverse group of people in Richmond had come together, all standing against the violence that has given Richmond the unfortunate reputation of being the sixth most-dangerous city in America.

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