The Story of the Gathering




The Story of the Gathering





From its inception, The Gathering for Justice provided a safe environment for policy and model exchange, and dialogue between generations of activists, community members, formerly-incarcerated individuals, gang members and academics from all communities and cultures. In order to facilitate these intergenerational conversations, The Gathering enlisted tactical support from The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the youth divisions of Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the NAACP, and the Congress on Racial Equality, among others.

This strategic planning led to years of Gathering retreats in communities all over the country including in Epps, Alabama with the initial Gathering of the Elders and Youth primarily from the black community, and Santa Cruz where we built with the Latino community, and to the Onondaga Nation to bring the indigenous youth into the conversation, and in Orange County, California where we engaged the youth leaders from the Asian and Pacific Islander community, and on to the Appalachian mountains of Tennessee, where The Gathering gave the white coal miners and those victimized by justice miscarried, the opportunity to instruct our black and brown communities and youth about the commonality of class experience and poverty across racial lines. These Gatherings revealed to the youth assembled that there were powerful parallels in their civil and human rights struggle in this country. And that message of inclusivity, that work of uncovering the common ground that unites peoples from diverse communities – that is the best work of The Gathering. And that work continues, and is more vital than ever.In 2010, Carmen Perez became the Executive Director of The Gathering, moving the national office to NYC and forming a meaningful partnership with 1199SEIU by helping build their young workers program, called Purple Gold. From 2010 until 2014, The Gathering essentially was a one-woman shop with all the services (juvenile detention programming, international gang-intervention, organizing training) – provided by Carmen Perez. In April 2014, Carmen brought on a Director of Operations and the two set a challenging agenda for the next 12 months.  While initially working with a fiscal sponsor, The Gathering incorporated in January 2015 and in April 2015 was awarded its 501C3 non-profit status.

Click an image below to learn more about the work of the Gathering:

Many of the photos appearing on this site were taken by our friend Alex Arbuckle during the historic March2Justice, a 250-mile journey where Justice Champions and Supports from all over the East Coast marched from New York City to Washington, DC to deliver the Justice Package to Congress.  Alex joined us the whole way and snapped thousands of photos, some of which are displayed here. To see more of his work, please visit


Mission, Vision and Values

Mission, Vision and Values


The Gathering for Justice’s mission is to build a movement to end child incarceration while working to eliminate the racial inequities that permeate the justice system.


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. 


1. The Gathering for Justice is the beloved community, grounded in dignity, justice and liberation

2. The Gathering for Justice believes intersectional organizing builds collective power and works in solidarity to develop intergenerational and intercultural leadership

3. The Gathering for Justice is rooted in nonviolence, a historical tactic that is not passive but a strength-based approach to achieving justice

4. The Gathering for Justice believes in a collaborative and transformative approach to achieving equity and racial justice