On Wednesday March 22, Rev. Mariama White-Hammond, social activist and emcee of the Boston Women's March, spoke to members of the Choate community on the power of social activism.
Rev. Mariama, who serves as an Ecological Justice Minister at Bethel AME Church in Boston, began her social activism in high school and continued at Stanford University where she was involved in campus politics and the arts. While Executive Director of Project HIP-HOP, an organization that engages young people in critical thinking, artistic production, and community organizing, she helped participants raise awareness, speak out, and take action on social issues.
In June 2014, she stepped down as Executive Director of Project HIP-HOP to focus on her work within the church. She continues to serve the Boston community as a board member of FOCUS, Inc. (affordable housing) and UP Academy in South Boston & Dorchester (elementary and middle school), and as advisor to ArtsEmerson, Green The Church, and Right to the City Boston VOTE! For her work in the non-profit sector, Rev. Mariama has received numerous awards including the Barr Fellowship, the Celtics Heroes Among Us, The Roxbury Founders Day Award and the Boston NAACP Image award.
In her talk to Choate students and faculty, she focused on strategies for bridging the divide in our polarized nation, and the world. Some strategies she suggested for nonviolent activism included:
- deep and authentic listening
- examining who we are and who we want to be
- imagining new ways of organizing ourselves and being with each other
- identifying leaders who love people and understand the importance of coming together.
She urged her audience "to shift our focus, and act out of love, not fear of loss." "The challenge before us," she said, "is to be able to unpack positions to get to the needs and interests from which they are based." It is in the latter that we can hope to find "great commonality and the potential for adjusting positions and exchanging ideas."
Rev. Mariama's presentation was at the invitation of the Current Events Resource Group tasked by Headmaster Curtis to support all community members as we navigate policy changes emerging from the White House that have implications for people worldwide, nationwide, and in the Choate community.