2018 Year in Review
The past year was an eventful one, full of growth and challenges. We charted a path to build a grassroots student-led human rights movement to end gun violence and reimagine safety and justice for all communities. In partnership with our chapters across the country and with support from our allies, we contributed to the development of new emerging leaders, propelled a vision for safety and justice for all communities, and engaged in impactful work at the campus and national levels. And we strengthened the human rights movement for years to come. Across criminal justice reform, community reinvestment, gun violence, and immigrant rights—we made a difference with your help.
Check out highlights from the year below.
To kick off the year, the Million Hoodies Movement for Justice’s New York City chapter celebrated the 23rd birthday of Trayvon Martin by exploring the intersections of gun violence and criminalization by launching the viral Life at 23 campaign from February 5 to February 26. All over the country, supporters shared pictures and reflections of what life was like when they were 23 and what they hoped life would be like at the age 23. To conclude the campaign, the Million Hoodies NYC chapter organized a commemorative walk in Brooklyn, New York (similar to the one organized by the Trayvon Martin Foundation) touring various sites of criminalization for youth of color. They ended the walk with a speak out in front of the Crossroads Juvenile Center in Brownsville. [Click here to read more about the action] [Click here to watch video of the action]
March for Our Lives
The mass shooting in Parkland, Florida brought up interesting contrasts to responses to gun violence. A question of the activism we acknowledge and the activism we ignore when it comes to race, trauma, and public support. Million Hoodies Co-Founder and Executive Director Dante Barry spoke to truth to the differences and was quoted in Huffington Post:
The way people are responding to predominantly white communities is notable: Whose movement is more valuable to support?” he added. “Other communities that have been devastated by gun violence are still fighting for crumbs.
As an intervention, Dante Barry penned a powerful op-ed, Any March for Our Lives Must Include Kids Like Trayvon Martin and spoke on MSNBC about the impacts of poverty and gun violence and community disinvestment. Pastor Michael McBride of Faith in Action also wrote a piece that lifts up the work of groups like Million Hoodies, the Dream Defenders, and the young people in Ferguson organizing to stop police violence. Finally, Million Hoodies worked with MoveOn to produce a video to discuss the intersections of police violence and gun violence. [Read this profile by Monmouth University about Dante and our work at Million Hoodies.]
Sincerely, The Black Kids
The Million Hoodies West Florida chapter produced an exciting new documentary to open up a discussion about Black student leaders and their campus climates. In the documentary, Sincerely, The Black Kids, the filmmaker, Million Hoodies member Matthew (Miles) Wainwright interviews several Million Hoodies members, including Delmar Fears and Devontae Torriente, about the actions they took to stop anti-black violence at their college campuses.
The Webby Awards
Seven Million Hoodies members from our Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School chapter in New York City were included in a powerful video about gun violence at the Webby Awards.
The Million Hoodies Bard College chapter delivered a set of demands to their college president and administration in May from the students of color community to build a Freedom Campus! Million Hoodies members from the Bard College chapter were also featured in a cool listicle from Youth Radio entitled, The Legacy of MLK Is Alive Today In These Young Activists.
Immigrant Worker Justice Tour
On May Day, the Freedom Cities NYC coalition took Manhattan to demand divestment from institutions that profit off of our pain and exploitation and investment in our communities so that we can all thrive in our full dignity! The NYC Freedom Cities coalition includes the Million Hoodies NYC chapter and our partners: Black Alliance for Just Immigration and Freedom To Thrive.
We took the streets to demand that New York City becomes a Freedom City! The tour comprised of stops that speak to the intersectional platform of Freedom Cities including policing, incarceration, immigration, workers, gentrification, and climate change. Each stop had an active campaign with workers and immigrants who spoke about their struggle.
The Million Hoodies NYC chapter also participated in the Women's March NYC's inaugural "daring discussions" event at Verso Books to take a look at how Black women are on the frontline of building our movements for safety and justice.
2018 National Convening
From August 2 to 5, Million Hoodies gathered at Tuskegee University in Alabama for our second national membership gathering. Our National Congress is the space we curate to deepen relationships across our organization, engage in skill building and training with our members, and clarify our direction moving forward. This year we were joined by a number of partners including the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Freedom Cities, Presente.org, the Community Justice Reform Coalition, Def Jam recording artist Bobby Sessions, Ms. Samaria Rice (Mother of Tamir Rice), and more. [Click here to watch video from the convening]