The Big Idea: Standing on the shoulders of those who won our rights
This is a guest blog from Carrie Supple FRSA who leads Journey to Justice, a Catalyst-supported project encouraging participation in social justice campaigning:
‘We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.’ (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 1963)
The Big Idea
The aim of Journey to Justice is to inspire people, by learning about past and present movements for human rights, to believe they have an important role to play in creating a more just world for all. Through education and the arts we will encourage people to participate and show solidarity with social justice causes. The project came out of a visit I made to civil rights centres in the USA and a lifelong fascination with that history and with people who stand up and speak out and have made a difference for good.
Working with educators, students, youth, human rights and faith groups, artists, filmmakers, musicians, historians, curators and politicians, our first project will be a travelling exhibition for the UK that tells the story of the US civil rights movement and its ongoing impact through the iconic music and arts of the time. As it tours, the exhibition will partner with local communities and make links to lessons from UK human rights campaigns such as the abolition of slavery, the Suffragettes, Glasgow’s fair rent movement, the Jarrow Crusade and the Bristol Bus Boycott. We will elevate that part of our heritage which is about the long, proud struggle for freedom, equality and the rule of law. We will offer workshops about the history and arts of social protest and how to make your voice heard, as well as training for practitioners. Each local area team will plan events and a programme of activities to complement the exhibition which will stay on average for three months. Oral history, research and using an intergenerational approach are at the heart of Journey to Justice.
We aim to educate and inspire people to realise we don’t have to accept things as they are (nearly one million young people unemployed, two women murdered a week by their partner, millions of older people isolated) and that change has happened led by ‘people like us’. We hope to create a legacy of interest, involvement and activity which will generate a national network of groups connected to and supporting each other. While we hope the project will be of interest to everyone, our main target is young people not in education, employment or training.
We aim to educate and inspire people to realise we don’t have to accept things as they are and that change has happened led by ‘people like us’.
After the 2011 riots that started in Tottenham, one of those convicted said, ‘We had the attention of the world and all we asked for was a pair of trainers’. It’s clear we need broad, sustained, non-violent movements for change to counter hopelessness and the vast inequalities still experienced today. Martin Luther King spoke about the need for economic justice, linking racism, poverty, war and materialism. His call for solidarity and his belief that our lives are inextricably interrelated is a message that transcends time, place and issue’.
The story so far
Since July 2013 we have created a steering group, advisers, associates and volunteers and secured small grants which enabled us to create a website and plan our launch. We have a network or partners throughout the UK including Exposure, The Black Cultural Archives, University of Northumbria, Facing History and Ourselves, Corrymeela and Choices. We have nascent local groups in Sheffield and Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Bristol, London and Manchester and relationships with key people in Liverpool, Belfast, Glasgow, Birmingham, Norwich, Newport and Bradford.
The Centre for Innovation in Voluntary Action offered to ‘incubate’ us until we become a charity which was a boost. We have received endorsements and been featured in the local press.
I am continuously delighted by the positive response we get to the idea of Journey to Justice. It seems to strike a chord for so many people whether they work at grassroots or strategic levels. We have two distinguished patrons: Lord Herman Ouseley, former Chair of the Commission of Racial Equality, founder of Kick It Out and Paul Stephenson, OBE leader of the 1963 Bristol Bus Boycott. And other leaders in their field (education, youth and community, history, human rights, intergenerational work, media) have offered their time. Singing We Shall Overcome on a London bus with people of all ages and backgrounds as part of our crowd funding film was a highlight for me.
We just launched our crowd funding campaign and are in discussion with exhibition designers. We will pilot it in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Sheffield next year with a grand launch in early 2016. On Saturday 21 June this year we launch Journey to Justice with a night of music, song, poetry, dance, film and speakers to celebrate those working for social justice. The RSA Catalyst Fund has helped tremendously with its marketing workshop and the advice of experts at the networking events. It will also enable me to travel to our pilot towns and develop those partnerships.
Expertise we need and how to get involved
Besides helping us to achieve our crowd funding target we welcome support with strategic planning, exhibition creation and outreach, monitoring and evaluation and finding more potential partners all over the UK, especially in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We are all volunteers at the moment, fundraising to make this project a reality. Join us.
Come to the launch event, Saturday 21 June, 7.30-10.00 at Conway Hall, London. Book tickets now.
To get help from RSA Catalyst for your social venture through grants, expertise and crowdfunding visit our Catalyst webpage