Third Reconstruction, Racial Reckoning – none of these words could fully encapsulate the reality of the quest for justice. On May 25, 2020, Mr. George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis, Minn. Darnella Frazier captured the last moments of Floyd’s life in a video recording that went viral. Millions around the world watched the video, which compelled them to take action.
Each of us was left with a decision of whether we would remain on the sidelines of life as passive observers. The decision was individual and personal but a decision had to be made. It was a moment in history that ignited a movement. Every day people decided to bring the issues of justice to the forefront of the national agenda related to racial justice. The inequities could no longer be ignored and were placed center stage.
The future was awaiting us. The work of the present was still undone. My home state of Minnesota, like countless others across the nation, faced a similar challenge. A tale of two cities was no longer a tale of fiction but a lived reality. One experienced great prosperity and immense joy while another was left in abject poverty and experiencing insurmountable despair. One was White. One was Black. Separate and unequal. This is a reality when in Minnesota:
• Wealth: The Black poverty rate is four times the White poverty rate.
• Education: Black students experience one of the nation’s worst education opportunity gaps as evidenced by graduation and literacy rates.
A leadership challenge emerged –what will you do for justice and freedom? Or, what is in your hands to make a difference in the world? I decided to take action by joining with other writers and artists to lead change. We came together to create and build a collective vision for the future. We envisioned a world where the sanctity of life was paramount and the promotion of the common good would be our guiding light. This vision compelled us to act together in building the vision for the future. The youth anthology entitled: “Aya: An Anthology of Racial Justice, Healing and the Black Experience” is a manifestation of the vision. We visited St. Paul schools and community centers to encourage our youth to share their reflections on racial justice, healing, and the Black experience. They taught us key lessons on how to lead, inspire, and build a movement for racial justice. The voices of our youth were compiled into this youth anthology. The publication is a tableau of the United States at a pivotal crossroad on the journey to racial justice.
The book launch party will be held on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, from noon to 1 p.m. at Subtext Books, located at 6 Fifth St. West, in Saint Paul. The youth authors will read from their contributions. The event is sponsored by Until We Are All Free, Abdur Razzaq Counseling & Social Architecture, Mississippi Market Co-op, and JK Movement. The anthology was made possible through a grant from the Saint Paul Cultural Star Program.
Through her organization, Planting People Growing Justice Leadership Institute, Dr. Artika Tyner seeks to plant seeds of social change through education, training, and community outreach.
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