The mission of The Gathering is to build a national movement rooted in culture, spirituality and non-violence to end child incarceration, while working to eliminate the racial inequities in the criminal justice system that enliven mass incarceration. 


The Gathering for Justice is a social justice organization founded by Harry Belafonte in 2005.  Led since 2010 by Executive Director Carmen Perez, The Gathering utilizes Kingian nonviolence as a social application for change and civic engagement. The organization is unique in that we provide direct services, engage artists and cultural leaders as foot soldiers in grassroots mobilization, and consult and advise on legislative and policy initiatives while organizing in local and national communities – all to sustain and build this Movement, the essence of which is grounded in the Movement for Racial Equality.

Since 2013, The Gathering has been building justice initiatives on multiple fronts. Our work includes leading policy initiatives for police accountability; bringing in individuals and groups from diverse communities to organize as a ‘family coalition’ in order to capitalize on our combined power and build the agenda for sustained black and brown liberation; being the catalyst for the re-introduction of federal legislation to end racial profiling and stop the militarization of law enforcement; engaging a serious and sustained effort for Raise the Age in NY State; and creating a blueprint – in the form of a substantive list of demands – for criminal justice redress and accountability for NY City and State.

The Gathering for Justice follows a set of guiding principles. We stand on the radical shoulders of Civil Rights leaders and elders like our Founder Harry Belafonte, who was educated in radical thought by Paul Robeson. We ground ourselves in Kingnian nonviolence because we understand the power of nonviolence as a tactic in the struggle for social justice.

Accepting that nonviolence is not passive, but is a strength-based tactic of reform helps The Gathering and Justice League maintain integrity in an environment often fraught with internal struggles for identity and messaging. We are grounded in methodology.  We’ve got a lot of work to do. The nation needs us, now, to change the unjust systems that have shackled our youth for generations.

Never in our lifetime has there been a more urgent call for Justice and Equality. We see the hopeful signs of change coming – and we know we cannot take our eyes off the road for even a moment – for the moment is right now. The Gathering for Justice is the Movement. 


The values of The Gathering are essential and enduring tenets that provide a frame of reference for decision-making, contribute to the organizational atmosphere, and guide the annual, shifting strategies:

Collaboration: Victory is attainable only when we work in genuine collaboration with each other, our allies and our stakeholders. The Gathering seeks to engage allies and stakeholders to achieve mutual goals and strengthen the movement.

Competency: The Gathering is unwavering in its commitment to bring competent, committed leaders into the campaign to end child incarceration.  There is no compromising the high standards expected of people in these campaigns.  The Gathering supports all young people in reaching these standards.

Culture: The Gathering has made culture a centerpiece of organizing. All cultures are represented in every aspect of planning and execution of The Gathering.

Non-violence:  The Gathering is committed to a moral framework of justice and love that informs its organizing and strategy. The tactics used internally and externally will be nonviolent.

Innovation: The Gathering works to identify new efficient ways of bringing people together, as well as using innovation as a tool for model exchange.

Integrity: The Gathering is unwavering in its commitment to bring leaders with integrity into the organization as staff members, advisors and committee members. The Gathering seeks to bring integrity and purpose to all that it does.

Performance: The Gathering evaluates its work based on the impact it has on improving the lives of the young people it works with, and on the movement it is making towards policy change.  The Gathering holds itself and others to a high performance standard that accomplishes tangible social and political change.

Professionalism: Ethical, professional behavior by all individuals associated with The Gathering is essential in order for the public to have trust in its mission.

Responsibility: The Gathering understands it has a responsibility to achieve short-term victories that shift the balance of power while supporting long-term change that will have an enduring impact on communities for years to come. The Gathering will not sacrifice its ideological vision for quick gain and will not engage in gratuitous battles that detract from that vision.