Stories to Renew our Strength
In the early 1990s, a few years before the creation of the Veterans of Hope Project, Vincent and Rosemarie Harding, along with several family and friends, convened an intergenerational group of African American community activists for a series of summer retreats in Colorado. Many of the people who joined us were veterans of the southern Freedom movement – people like Bob and Janet Moses, Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons, Mwalimu Imara and Willie “Wazir” Peacock. Some folks bought their families and there were a number of emerging activists with us who have since developed their own powerful transformative voices – including a young Sister Soulja and Aishah Shahidah Simmons.
The Spirit and Struggle gatherings were designed to be a space where older and younger community organizers could share histories and learn from each other’s experiences, where they could encourage and critique each other in a family circle enriched with singing, storytelling, healthy food and revitalizing bodywork and exercise. Vincent and Rose later recalled that the retreats were the inspiration for the Veterans of Hope Project – as it became clear that the ritual of sharing stories of our activist work in a space of fellowship and community reflection has a powerful healing and strengthening effect on those who gather.
In this website, the SPIRIT AND STRUGGLE space will continue to be a resource for sharing stories and encouragement for all of us fighting to transform our society into a more humane and inclusive nation. We offer here examples of determination and tenacity in the face of assault; of the power of art to show us our world anew; models of hospitality and welcome; policies of reparation and gratitude from around the world; and rituals of healing for the body, mind and heart. Indigenous people and people of color have learned through centuries of struggle, that we need the strength and blessings of our ancestors and our holy ones to survive. We offer some of that wisdom.