THE STORY OF THE GATHERING
The Gathering for Justice was founded in 2005 by Harry Belafonte after he witnessed a news report of a 5 year old black girl being handcuffed and arrested in her Florida classroom for “being unruly”. The Gathering’s mission is to build a movement to end child incarceration while working to eliminate the racial inequities in the criminal justice system that enliven mass incarceration.
From its inception, The Gathering 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 http://www.alexqarbuckle.com/