|Photo l Deesha Dyer|
|Panel - Ben, Marc, Daniel, Charmayne, Tim|
For the 4th year in a row, the community collaborative, GeoClan
, in conjunction with the University of Pennsylvania hosted an afternoon full of dialect and conversation in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The theme of this year's symposium was ï¿½The Poor People's Campaign: MLK's Legacy and Our Future". Coming up on the 40 year anniversary of the Poor People's Campaign,
GeoClan structured the event to include a series of workshops and a closing panel to discuss the campaign that MLK created in 1967, a year before his assassination. I got there in time for the last set of workshops and the panel.
The workshop I attended was put on by Cabrini College. Actually, I believe it was a combination of various organizations and visions within Cabrini like the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign, Headstart and others. As an introductory piece, we watched a clip of how the PPC got started, which is documented in film, Citizen King
. Shamefully, I have never heard of this movie, but it is commentary by those that worked in King's camp about the leader's last days. It was a moving 15 minutes and afterwards, a discussion began about what Dr. King would say about the way the world is now. What I noticed immediately was the interest of the youth in the room. About 85% of the participants in the actual workshop (about 40) were under 18, and part of the Philadelphia Student Union
. I won't get into all that was said, but I will say that it was such a joy seeing young Philadelphians participate in this workshop. They were engaged and deeply moved by the film and echoed comments of reflection about how they wanted to be leaders in their communities and schools.
These kids deserve more respect and recognition. Wouldn't it be nice to see newspaper pages full of stories about what the Philadelphia Student Union is doing, instead of what the youth aren't doing? Okay, at least a balance would be nice.
After the workshop, we were treated to a buffet style meal and piled into the main room at the Carriage House to start the panel, which consisted of Ben Saunders III from the Poverty Initiative
, Dr. Marc Lamont Hill,
Tim Dowlin from the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign
, Charmayne Thomas from PA Head Start
, and Daniel from the Philadelphia Student Union
After a brief introduction, discussion got underway concerning the plight of the poor. Different topics came up such as the factor race, sex, and gender play in poverty, the different perspectives on Dr. King, the breakdown of Black leadership, and the overall lack of community in not only Philadelphia, but nationwide. I'd go into everything, but I don't have that kind of time at the moment. The panel lasted about 40 or so minutes with everyone getting their say in, as well as questions being asked from the audience, which again consisted mainly of youth.
While the spirit of the event was poverty and the poor, many attendees, self included, gained more than knowledge about those specified topics. It was an afternoon of being with people who aren't exactly the same as you, but still have a common thread of compassion.
Compassion to turn the talk into action.
Compassion to be open to learning.
Compassion to lead a movement.
Compassion to change.
Pictures from the 2008 Symposium
|Photo l Deesha Dyer|