In this 7-minute interview, Jerry Tello, director of the National Compadres Project, talks about his grandmother’s prayers for him when he was a boy and the way our elders and ancestors bless us through their lineages of struggle and love. It’s a beautiful, encouraging video.
Anyone who ever had a class or workshop with Vincent and Rosemarie Harding likely remembers being asked to do an introduction that included sharing your name as well as the name of your “mama’s mama.” Calling our ancestors and elders into the conversation circle is an act of acknowledgment and respect, but it is also a way of accessing strengths passed to us by those who preceded us in this life and in the work for a just and humane America.
Jerry Tello explains in the video that the mothers of the Black and Latino neighborhood where he grew up knew that their daughters and sons would daily face a world where they would be harshly judged and treated with unkindness by people who could not see their beauty. The prayers and blessings of the women were like a shield, a grace, to cover and innoculate the young people so that they could move into difficult spaces remembering how much they were loved – strong enough to stand up against the dangers.
(The clip is from a film called Healing Justice: Cultivating a World of Belonging, currently in production by World Trust and scheduled for release in 2017. For more information about the work of World Trust, click here.)