The artwork on this note card was created by 5768 WRJ Art Calendar artist Césan d’Ornellas Levine.
On Thursday, September 10, America’s Journey for Justice, organized by the NAACP, marched into Richmond, VA, calling attention to the need to address racial injustices in our country with the message “Our Lives, Our Votes, Our Jobs, Our Schools Matter.” The march had already traveled over 800 miles from Selma, Alabama, through Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and southern Virginia. I was fortunate to be able to join for a leg of the march as it headed into the Virginia capital.
Arriving at the temporary Headquarters in South Hill, VA, on Wednesday night, I was immediately greeted by the hospitality, courageousness, determination and hope of the marchers. I had the honor to meet a group of inspiring individuals who have set aside their lives – some for already over forty days – and have committed themselves to walking around 20 miles each and every day in order to end racial injustice and fashion a society that celebrates diversity and equality.
The day-long journey of marching, singing and chanting into Richmond culminated in an energizing rally held at Virginia Union University on Thursday evening. In his keynote remarks, NAACP President Cornell Brooks urged millennials, like me, to take up the mantle of racial justice. Brooks even drew directly on a model from our own tradition: the Israelites were trepidatious upon entering the Promised Land, but we know that crossing that threshold creates many more opportunities for tikkun olam than does accepting the status quo. I was also moved by President Brook’s recognition of the dozens of rabbis, RAC employees and lay leaders from the Reform Movement who have participated since the Journey launched over a month ago.
As the new Legislative Assistant working on racial justice and civil rights issues, my participation in the Journey for Justice serves as a timely introduction to the importance of the work I will be undertaking this year. While marching, I witnessed signs of the racism that continues to afflict this country, but more importantly I saw firsthand the diverse movement of Americans who refuse to let the light of hope of full equality be extinguished. The Journey for Justice will formally come to a close in Washington, D.C., next Wednesday with a rally at the Capitol in which the RAC will take part; but the end of the march will not end the struggle. As we enter the new year of 5776, we recommit ourselves to being engaged in advancing racial justice at the local, state and national levels. We pray that this new year is one of wholeness and justice, and we must all do our part to make that a reality. I am eager to be a part of this work.