We are thrilled to introduce you to the new Veterans of Hope Project website www.veteransofhope.org We’ve completely redesigned the site with an eye toward ensuring that our virtual home reflects the emphasis on spirit, community, hospitality, and social justice movement history that we try to nurture in all of our gatherings and public events.
Both of our co-founders, Vincent and Rosemarie Harding, are now among the ancestors, and we feel a special responsibility to share their stories as well as those of their friends/colleagues/comrades in the late 20th century movements for the transformation of our society — the “veterans” who came to Denver from 1997 through 2013 to offer wisdom, memories and their continuing hope for our country in the interviews we conducted.
We have a special section dedicated to Vincent and Rose under FOUNDERS. You’ll see biographical information and pictures, as well as some of their essays and even a few video clips of Vincent’s lectures. We will continue to add more to this section, so check back whenever you can.
In 2013, we donated our entire archive of long-form, professionally videotaped interviews with activists to the library at Emory University in Atlanta where they are being digitized so that they can be available to scholars, students, activists, artists, religious leaders and other community members who want to know and use the stories we collected. (Vincent and Rosemarie’s writings and personal papers are also housed there.) Clips from some of those interviews, as well as biographical profiles on all of our interviewees, are already available here on the website in the VETERANS section. More clips will be accessible next year as Emory completes the digitization process and we link excerpts of the interviews to our site.
One of our primary concerns as an organization is to pass along the resources of history and spirit that encouraged earlier generations of activists, so that younger people (and the not-so-young) who are committed to social justice can continue and expand the work. With this in mind we developed a series of lessons, based in the stories of our interviewees, that are designed to help students of all ages explore such themes as alternatives to violence; the role of hospitality in African American organizing; links between anti-racist citizenship education and environmental justice organizing; and the importance of ancestors in our lives. If you click on our LEARNING RESOURCES section, you’ll find inspirational concepts (Models of Hope) as well as lesson plans (Lessons from the Journey) that help individuals and groups explore more deeply links between spirituality/religion and compassionate social change.
Beyond these online resources, we coordinate community gatherings, lectures and workshops that offer insights from the ritual traditions, cultural histories and social justice movement experiences of people of color to activists and other community members who take encouragement from the stories we’re able to share.
Among our projects of the past two years, we are especially proud of the following:
- Co-sponsorship of the first cohort of students in the Satya Yoga Teacher Training Program for People of Color, led by Denver-based yogini, Lakshmi Nair.
- Publication by Duke University Press of Remnants: A Memoir of Spirit, Activism and Mothering, a collaborative memoir written by Rachel and Rosemarie Harding and exploring the role of spirituality and compassion in African American social justice activism.
- Book launches and readings from Remnants in Atlanta, Denver, and Fort Collins.
- Lectures on Black Women’s Activism and Mysticism at Brown University and the San Francisco Theological Seminary
- Coordinating the visits to Denver and New York of Iyalorixá Valnizia Pereira and Claudio Santana de Freitas, elders from the Terreiro do Cobre Candomblé community who presented lectures and participated in conversation circles and workshops on Afro-Brazilian religion, ritual art and indigenous healing as resources for grassroots social justice work.
- Collaboration with the Chico Peace and Justice Center in California, in publishing “Building a Movement to End The New Jim Crow: An Organizing Guide” http://www.newjimcroworganizing.org/. Written by Daniel Hunter, the organizing guide is a supplement to Michelle Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow, and features a forward by our veteran interviewee, Rev. James Lawson.
- Development of a multicultural women’s circle of local activists, healers and religious leaders looking to share resources of spirit and community-building in the service of radical, compassionate social justice.
- Creating a strong online presence through social media (first Facebook, and now, this website) which helps us share information about local, national and international spiritually-grounded social justice work.
Moving into our twentieth year, we invite you to stay connected to us. Use the resources here on the website for your own gatherings/courses/seminars. Share the stories we post with your networks. Join us for the events we organize and co-sponsor. Pass along the beautiful, sacred history of the many thousands of “veterans of hope” – some well known, some nameless – who have nurtured a vision of a renewed, just, healthy, inclusive democracy in the United States. And share your own visions, imaginings and hopes for our nation.
Whether you’ve known us since our beginning in 1997, or you’re a new friend who found us on social media more recently, we hope you’ll visit our site often for information, inspiration, encouragement and fellowship. We also hope you will support our work financially, at whatever level you can. (We can really use it!)
In the coming weeks, we’ll share more details about what we’re doing and what’s on the site. For now, please explore to your heart’s content. And let us know what’s interesting, what’s useful, and what’s not working. We’re glad to have you with us on this journey.
Rachel Harding and Gloria Smith
for the Veterans of Hope Project