As we approach the end of another powerful year and reflect on the recent mid-term elections and post-election struggles in our nation, it seems very clear to us that the work we are doing at the Veterans of Hope Project is even more important now than ever before. We’re also very grateful to those of you who have been our supporters and co-workers during our 13 year journey. So, as this year ends we’re sending this note to let you know some of what we are doing as a Project to meet the great challenges of this time; and we’re boldly seeking your continuing support—in financial and other ways—to help us in this very difficult financial period.
Continuing Veteran Interviews
This year we continued our hallmark Veterans’ autobiographical interview and public discussion series with three new elders: 1) Judy Richardson, one of the original staff members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the most effective grassroots organizing group of the 1960s Southern Freedom (Civil Rights) Movement. Judy later worked with the film-making team that produced “Eyes on the Prize,”—the best documentary account of the Southern movement and its northern manifestations. She continues as a film-maker and recently helped to edit Hands On The Freedom Plow, a collection of thoughtful autobiographical essays written by 52 women who worked with SNCC; 2) Dr. Clarence Snelling, Professor Emeritus at the Iliff School of Theology here in Denver, and a native white Louisianan who was deeply involved in costly work for racial and economic justice, both in the south and when he later moved north; and 3) Daniel “Nane” Alejandrez. Nane’s story of personal transformation, from drug-addicted gang member to social justice activist and youth advocate, is closely tied to Barrios Unidos, the organization he co-founded in Santa Cruz, CA. (See more about our developing important connection to Nane and Barrios Unidos later in this note.)
New DVDs Available
Meanwhile, we’re glad to let you know that we have completed the editing of our earlier interviews with four magnificent artists/teachers/organizers, and their DVDs will be available early next year. Those Veterans are John Biggers, celebrated African-American muralist and teacher; Vine Deloria, Native American wisdom-keeper and legal scholar; Tom Feelings, artist and witness-bearer of the African diaspora; and Sonia Sanchez, poet-teacher of our pain, our hope and our love. (The three men have passed on since their interviews. Sonia continues with great life among us.) As is our practice, each of the powerful new DVDs is approximately 40-45 minutes in length and is accompanied by a transcript and study guide. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 303-765-3198 to order these new DVDs—or any of our earlier ones—at $30 dollars. (They make wonderful holiday gifts—and they remind us of the ways in which our great human gifts can be shared for the best development of us all.)
Organizing and New Collaborations
This year has also been a time when we have spent significant time serving as a bridge between our history and our future in other ways as well. In April, 2010, several of our Denver friends and students accompanied me (Vincent) in attendance at the 50th Anniversary Reunion of SNCC in Raleigh, NC. We joined more than a thousand participants, including former SNCC organizers (many of whom the Project had interviewed), current teachers, students and activists of all ages. The sharing of stories, hope and commitment to future work made it clear that this time of crisis—as our sister Veteran, Grace Boggs, always reminds us—is not only a time of great danger, but a time of great opportunity as well.
Indeed, it was in Grace’s home base of Detroit that we continued to witness the power of the opportunity when some of us from the Project participated in the amazing June, 2010 meeting of the US Social Forum. Here again, a multi-generational, multi-racial gathering of nearly 20,000 social justice-oriented artists, teachers, organizers and eager students encouraged us to know that our own Veterans of Hope Project work of opening and sharing the history of struggles for “another world,” for a more perfect union, is very much needed—and desired—by the current, youthful carriers of hope.
The Network of Hope
As a result, we’ve decided to see the “great opportunity” in this time of economic, political and social crisis. We’ve chosen not only to continue gathering and sharing the interviews with our Veterans, but we are determined to expand and deepen our on-going work with “vulnerable” youth and their adult teachers and guides in six other locations across this country and in Brazil. This summer, with the significant assistance of the Fetzer Institute, we gathered youth and adult representatives from these organizations – The Algebra Project, Jackson, MS; Barrios Unidos, Santa Cruz, CA; The Beloved Community Center, Greensboro, NC; The Black Star Project, Chicago, IL; Cookman United Methodist Church, Philadelphia, PA; Tewa Women United, Santa Fe, NM and community organizations in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. In the course of a rich sharing of our personal and organizational experiences, we formed a “Network of Hope” and committed ourselves to work together in ways that will strengthen our individual projects and also open our young people to a larger community of youth and adults who are determined to offer leadership to the continuing quest for a more perfect union and a more peaceful, sustainable and compassionate world community.
As a natural part of our new multi-generational collaboration and our desire to expand our level of communication with all of you, we’ve developed a Facebook page and a website blog. We also want to encourage you to visit “Connections” on our website to read excerpts from Rachel Harding’s writings about her mother, our beloved Rosemarie.
Calling for your Continued Support
Now in light of what we’ve been doing and what we plan to do, we are eager to invite you to continue (and increase) the financial and/or spiritual support that you have shared with us. In these very rough economic times, we realize that we are really stepping out on faith to try to carry out our ambitious agenda. We dare to do that only because we believe this is the work that we must do. And we are convinced that you want to help us carry it on.
So we boldly urge you to take this year-end opportunity to make a contribution to the Project. As you probably know, we are an independent 501c3 non-profit organization, and gifts to us are tax deductible. For contributions over $250 we will be pleased to send you a newly available 6-CD set of the spoken words ofHoward Thurman, the great 20th century spiritual teacher who offered so much to the life and thought of such persons as Martin Luther King, Jr., Alice Walker and Barack Obama.
Also, please consider exploring with your employer the possibility of a “matching funds” donation. Your gift is crucial to the life of the Project. You can make an online donation by clicking the DONATE button on our website main menu. If you prefer to send us a check, please make your check payable to Veterans of Hope Project and mail it to us at 2201 S. University Blvd., Denver, CO 80210.
Shopping Benefit at Ten Thousand Villages
For those of you in the Denver area, you’ll be glad to know that we have again been invited to collaborate with Ten Thousand Villages an internationally-oriented gift shop, sharing a “Benefit Shopping Event” on Thursday, December 16, 2010 from 5-8pm. During this time the store will donate 15% of all sales to the Veterans of Hope Project. The store is located at 2626 East 3rd Avenue (Cherry Creek) in Denver. Please stop by for refreshments, entertainment, holiday shopping and a chance to say hello if you are in town during this period.
On behalf of the Veterans of Hope Project, we thank you again for your continued support to our work. Please contact us at the numbers below. We would love to hear from you. Please also share this information with family and friends.
Special Post Script:
Michelle Alexander Visits Denver in February 2011
Early next year, during the last week of February, Black History Month, we are collaborating with Iliff and other local sponsors to bring to Denver the extraordinary attorney, courageous advocate and committed public intellectual, MICHELLE ALEXANDER. Professor Alexander’s powerful book, The New Jim Crow, challenges us as democratic citizens and humane beings to face the horrific reality of “mass incarceration” in America and deal with what it means for a generation of our young people (especially young men) of color—and what it means for all of us who are committed to building a more perfect union, a multi-racial community of hope. Alexander will be with us from February 22-24, and we will have her full schedule on our website by January 15. She will address a major public community meeting at the Iliff School of Theology (University Blvd. and Iliff Avenue) on Wednesday evening, February 23rd. Don’t hesitate to contact us for additional information at 303-765-3198 or email@example.com.