From a Moment to a Movement
Monday, May 25 was a heart-breaking moment. “When I saw the video of George Floyd, it tore me up inside. It broke my soul to see that happen to a black man,” shared one of our teenagers, who is African-American. “This should not be happening in our time.” Another young person expressed, “My outrage started before when 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot because of a toy gun.” A friend added, “It really does suck, but it some ways it feels normal. Change is not going to be fast, it’s been 500 years* for us already.”
Boston Project staff entered this summer with a heaviness in light of all that was -and is- happening nationally in regards to racial injustice and COVID-19. Alongside our teenagers, we participated in local peace marches and then asked ourselves where do we go from here?
As a Christian ministry, we are motivated by God’s desire for justice. Christian Grant, our youth minister reflects, ”From the Psalms to the Prophets to the New Testament, you see the reoccurring theme of God’s righteousness and justice. When Jesus dealt with people He was intentional about meeting people’s needs and confronting the systems that were wrong. Jesus did not come with a sword but communicated to and empowered people to help those who are oppressed.” Christian summarizes: “the work of justice is part of the Gospel story.”
This summer our youth jobs were designed to empower youth to impact their own community. We believe teenagers are change-makers, activists, and powerful thought leaders. Our Artists in Action Team decided to create a mural that spoke to this moment but also their commitment to an ongoing movement in their community. Muralist Alex Cook, who worked with us for a 4th summer said, “It is powerful to call to mind daily our need for these qualities of Justice and Peace in our society.”
It was the first time Anaya, a teen Artist in Action, had ever participated in a mural project, and this one gave her a voice. Working on the Justice/Peace mural, honoring people who lost their lives to gun violence, and pursuing justice all matter to her. But when neighbors came out and included names of their family members who had lost their lives to violence on the wall, the impact on Anaya was lasting. It was a sacred moment for everyone. Artist Saidah reflected, “I’ve never seen a mural before that was made or created for a time that’s happening right now.”
Teen artist Aren is hopeful, “This generation is going to be the one to push and create the change.” Boston Project youth programs continue to engage the mental health needs of teenagers, food justice in our community, the role of the arts in activism and healing, racial justice, and amplifying the community’s voice. We leave you with some of our teen’s hope for their future: equality, feeling safe, people of all backgrounds coming together, love, justice, and peace.