One of our primary concerns at the Veterans of Hope Project has been to make the experience and wisdom of elder activists available to the local Denver community.
In addition to the on-camera interviews we’ve conducted for the archive, many of our guests also present public autobiographical lectures. Others have offered presentations related to the nature of their current work — poets like Sonia Sanchez and Julia Esquivel have conducted public readings; musicians Bernice Johnson Reagon and Linda Tillery gave mini-concerts; artists Tom Feelings and Nuong Van Dinh Tran did slide-presentations of their work; ministers and organizers like Archie Hargraves, Jim Lawson and Dorothy Cotton presented talks about their faith-journey and their activist work; and indigenous spiritual healers like Valdina Pinto, Jean Taiwo and Valnizia Pereira offered consultations and healing rituals.
In addition to the interviews and lectures, we’ve also sponsored community dialogues and conversation circles around issues such African and Indigenous ritual traditions as resources for social justice activism; Eco-theology in African and Afro-Atlantic religions; and Spirituality in the Japanese American internment experience.
A brief selection of other public lectures and community gatherings we have organized are listed below:
- Legal scholar Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow gave a series of public talks on dismantling mass incarceration.
- Michael Simmons, director of Eastern European programs for the American Friends Service Committee, lectured on his life as an activist in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Black Power Movement, the Peace Movement and his current work on behalf of the Roma (Gypsies) of Eastern Europe.
- At a luncheon in his honor following his retirement as archbishop of the diocese of Chiapas in Mexico, Dom Samuel Ruiz discussed his life as a priest and his commitment to support the Zapatista movement.
- Dorothy Cotton, master community organizer and former head of citizenship education for the Southern Christian Leadership Council, discussed her life and work as an activist and teacher.
- Vine Deloria, Lakota historian and legal scholar, lectured on the intertwining of Christianity and Lakota spiritual traditions in his own life and in the life of his family.
- Thai Buddhist lay-leader and organizer, Achaan Sulak Sivaraksa, participated in a public dialogue with Guatemalan poet and activist Julia Esquivel on the subjects of exile, religion and international human rights.
- Susannah Heschel, feminist theologian and daughter of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, discussed her own faith-journey, the role of women in Judaism and the need for a more honest and critical conversation about the policies of Israel toward the Palestinians.
- Anne Braden discussed her life-long work as an anti-racist organizer and her understanding of the role of churches and faith-based activists in working for social justice.
- Muralist, Leo Tanguma, presented a slide lecture on African American and Chicano visual arts traditions.