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Black and Brown Youth Gather at the Young Peoples Movement Assembly In New Orleans

Photo of Youth building together at the Young People’s Movement Assembly in New Orleans.

On September 29-30, New Orleans Based organization, Rethink hosted the Young People’s Movement Assembly. Their message was based on the mission that we live in a world with no police or prisons and they work towards that goal, they also acknowledge that historically there has never been sanctuary for black and brown youth.

The Young Peoples Movement Assembly is a national gathering for black and brown (queer, documented/undocumented, trans, non-English speaking/English speaking, Muslim) youth organizers (15-25 years old) to come together to develop a shared strategy for sanctuary for black and brown youth – a strategy that embraces all of their intersection \ identities. We are looking for youth organizing organizations across the country to send their lead youth organizers. This assembly was a sacred, innovative, healing, and creative space where youth explored the following: 1. what safety/sanctuary is for us 2. how we engage in projects of self-determination to create sanctuary for ourselves 3. how we create freedom/liberated/no harm zones across the country (how do we make schools freedom/liberation/no harm zones? what does transformative justice look like in those zones? what are the alternatives to police in schools and in our communities?) 4. what solidarity with one another and accountability to one another look like moving forward? Organizations from all over the US sent key youth leaders, and adult supports to hold space at this convening. Being a youth organizer it was beautiful to see over 3 youth organization from Boston. To name some of the organizations: Youth Justice Coalition (YJC), Boston Youth Organizing Project ( BYOP), Black Youth Project (BYP 100) , Young Abolitionist, Student Union, Baltimore Algebra Project, Philadelphia Student Union, Make the Road, Black Lives Matter, Unnamed, Fierce NYC, BreakOUT, Youth Justice & Power Union (YJPU), and many more! We joined in spirit, in revolution and dedication to the fight for liberation.

We left with commitments on how we would create “Freedom Zones” in our community. Freedom zones being a place of refuge for oppressed peoples, a place where the community is self-sustained by the people. From education to policing, these freedom zones declare that the people have the right to control economic and social stability of the neighborhood. Rethink has begun to create these spaces in New Orleans, within these physical zones the community has declared sovereignty. Overall the key base of the training was centered around setting a sanctuary for black and brown bodies. Sanctuary was defined as, a place of refuse or safety especially for someone or something being chased or hunted.

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