Michael Brown was killed during an altercation with Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson, sparking city-wide protests and violence. Community members called the shooting an act of racism, and called for justice, though no indictment was issued for Officer Wilson.
Following a peaceful vigil in Ferguson Sunday evening, another round of violence erupted. Three separate shooting incidents have been reported in the community. As racial tensions across the country seem to grow, one organization is promoting change.
“To shift their understanding of racism from an individual kind of ‘I hate you’ kind of mindset, to a perspective of racism that involves how systems and institutions operate and deal with and interact with people of color in this country,” Joshua Saleem said.
Saleem runs the Peace Education Program for the American Friends Service Committee. The organization works with today’s youth to create action, rather than anger.
In the past year, American Friends Service Committee offered three “Freedom Schools” in the St. Louis area, allowing young people to talk with each other about their thoughts on racism, oppression and poverty in America.
19-year-old Aja McCoy attended one of the Freedom Schools. She said she was able to gain a new perspective on racial relations in the country.
“I have been talking to my fellow church members, my parents, my community … and it makes me want to be more involved in my community, as well as do greater things for the African-American community as a whole,’ McCoy said.
Besides the Freedom School sessions, the organization is working to start community gardens and conflict mediation programs. Saleem said there is still much work to be done, but small changes lead to big progress.