Unification News for November 1999

WFWP Youth Forum: Racial Harmony

Christine Froelich—Oakland, CA

WFWP's Interracial Sisterhood Project (ISP) of northern California recently took the initiative to invite persons and organizations working on the issue of racial violence within our schools to come together for a Youth Forum on Racial Harmony. The Forum was held from 9:30 A.M. to 1:00 P.M., Wednesday, September, 22, 1999, at the Peralta Community College District Office, in Oakland. A morning of sharing of ideas, concerns and possible solutions with all who have a concern in the promotion of racial harmony amongst our youth culminated with the unique Bridge of Peace Ceremony.

The Youth Forum on Racial Harmony was co-sponsored by the Interracial Sisterhood Project of Northern California, Laney College Department of Community Relations and Laney College Department of Ethnic Studies. Dezi Woods Jones, Special Assistant to the Chancellor of Laney College, former Vice Mayor of Oakland and President of Black Women Organized for Political Action (Alameda County district), gave welcoming remarks. She enthusiastically congratulated the 70+ youth and adults on their courageous and positive efforts to make a difference in our schools and communities. We also received a welcome from Frankie Sanders, Station Manager of Peralta Colleges Television. Frankie worked tirelessly to help organize the forum and obtain the Board of Trustees meeting room for our use. She also created a video film introducing the Bridge of Peace ceremony, which was shown after the panel discussion.

The Youth Forum panel consisted of the following individuals and organizations: Raquel Jimenez represented the Youth Together Project, a consortium of multiracial agencies, which was created in 1996 in response to rising racial conflicts in California' s Bay Area schools. The goal of Youth Together Project is to prevent youth violence and foster racial justice in schools by equipping the leadership of high school youth to address the institutional roots of the conflicts.

The ISP presented the Youth Together Project with a "Bridge of Peace Award" for its achievements.

Frances Reid, the producer of the film "Skin Deep", a 1995 documentary made in response to increasing racial tensions and incidents of racial violence on college campuses, was unable to attend the forum as she was speaking in New York on the same day. However she very willingly lent some video clips from the film which The Interracial Sisterhood Project was able to show in order to introduce this moving project to local youth. "Skin Deep" along with a comprehensive study guide has been distributed nationwide to thousands of institutions. Some colleges now use the film as required viewing for first-year students.

Youth Together Project, "Skin Deep," and the Interracial Sisterhood Project have been identified as Promising Practices by the President's Initiative on Race.

Rena Davis, a Berkeley High School senior, and co-chair of The Diversity Project gave an energetic presentation on her work with The Diversity Project and her experience of racial tensions and separation at the extremely diverse Berkeley High School.

Christine Froehlich, Chairwoman of the Interracial Sisterhood Project of Northern California, gave a presentation on the work of ISP and the Bridge of Peace Ceremony.

The Interracial Sisterhood Project (ISP) of Northern California is made up of nearly 150 racially diverse women committed to learning to trust and understand others not like themselves. Begun in 1995, ISP is known for its trademark "Bridge of Peace Ceremony". The Ceremony is a profoundly moving experience personifying a personal commitment to racial justice. ISP has sponsored more than a dozen conferences throughout California introducing the interracial "Bridge of Peace Ceremony" to hundreds of professional women, women in high schools and colleges, a national Native American conference and in co-sponsorship with city school districts and other community organizations.

After the panel discussion, high schools students and educators crossed the Bridge of Peace in a moving ceremony. Even one pair of high school "brothers" crossed and met at the center with a brotherly handshake. Teachers, administrators, community activists and students who participated were all impressed by the panel discussion and inspired by the Bridge Ceremony.

In their enthusiasm several teachers invited the ISP to come to their high schools and put on a similar forum and Bridge Ceremony for their students as soon as possible. We are also planning an annual Youth Forum at the same location this fall and beyond!

 Download entire page and pages related to it in ZIP format
Table of Contents
Tparents Home