The amazing program AVL Rise, as part of the Open Doors of Asheville network, connected with the Carolina Youth Power Fund and NoCap for a weekend of building community through power. There is the rather obtuse idea that revolutionary change only comes through serious debate or analyzing the historical record. While those are necessary components of meaningful change, we believe the fabric of community organizing begins in relationship building across differences and deepening solidarity through acts of service and most something that is equally important, FUN!
Youth Organizing is essential to a critical understanding of civil and human rights advancements in the world. In the United States south, youth organizations formed substantive resistance to exploitative capitalism and white supremacy by actively uniting under turbulent conditions. Organizations such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Students Organizing for Black Unity (SOBU), Freedom Riders of the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE), Sit-in movement, and even the Black Panther Party that originated on the west coast but also anchors in the US south all took the mantle of leadership seriously. With these examples, Southern Vision Alliance and NoCap have continued the work to bridge the gap between local organizations and statewide networks.
On the weekend of June 29th, 6 members of the AVL community came together with several members of the NoCap HBCU fellowship and other artists. We spent the first night at a fun park, sharing good food, games, and fellowship. The next day we participated in leadership development activities that stirred the imaginations, and integrated art, music, and storytelling. After a live in-house performance at the People’s Solidarity Hub by Nu-Wrld, there was a powerful conversation that framed arts which includes dance, music and live instruments, and activism, as part of what makes us human.
That afternoon time was spent touring the HBCU, where discussions about the enduring legacy of black colleges were met with the urgency of entering the workforce and entrepreneurship. In a judgment-free zone, the youth were able to ask questions that forced all of us to think together. We also toured Black Wall St., the Durham Hayti Center, and the power of local history. On the final day together, the group had become even more closely related; the laughs were louder, the knowledge was growing, and the plates got even bigger with one more meal at the black-owned restaurant Dame’s Chicken and Waffles. Lastly, the group gained access to Duke Chapel, where the students took one more picture.
Major Shoutout to David and Jasmine, who were the leaders of the AVL group. Their work to increase literacy spread black joy and help students understand their power in the historical tradition of SNCC, SOBU, and BPP to reshape the world. All of that started with our collective understanding that young people deserve the right to quality education, healthcare, family support, and a society that makes room for their immense potential and current creativity.