Local activist groups to hold seminar on becoming racial justice leaders

  • Brieanna Arsenault, of Greenfield, will be a guest speaker at a webinar on Monday called “Taking Leadership to Overturn Racism.” STAFF PHOTO/MARY BYRNE

Staff Writer
Published: 8/14/2020 4:04:18 PM
Modified: 8/14/2020 4:04:06 PM

Numerous activism groups will come together Monday for an online seminar on becoming a leader in racial justice.

“I believe this is a time when everybody needs to take steps each day to break the silence on racial injustice and to find ways of collaborating together,” said Sarah Pirtle, who leads the Common Threads project at the Traprock Center for Peace and Justice.

The free webinar on Monday is a collaboration between Racial Justice Rising, the Traprock Center for Peace and Justice — which is sponsoring the event — and Journey Camp, a project of Traprock. The webinar is open to girls and women of all ages, as well as anyone who identifies as queer or gender non-binary, but is geared toward those between the ages of 13 and 25 years old.

The webinar, which is scheduled to take place from 10:30 to 11:45 a.m., is part of Traprock’s ongoing series, Joining a Long Line of Leaders for Racial Justice, or “Long Line” for short.

“The whole idea is that whatever age you are, you are joining generations of people who have stood up for racial justice,” Pirtle said.

Monday’s webinar will feature guest speaker Brieanna Arsenault, 25, who has helped organize a number of local Black Lives Matter rallies, including a demonstration in Greenfield on June 6.

“We felt that hearing from (Arsenault) was so important, that we’re doing wide outreach so that others can hear from her as well,” Pirtle said.

According to a press release from Traprock, Arsenault is a Greenfield resident who plans to share her own experiences dealing with racial injustice in the local community. Her talk will also describe what she has learned from organizing local Black Lives Matter rallies, and from participating in national trainings for Black women. She will offer advice to young women who seek to be part of local efforts for racial justice.

The webinar will be interactive, in that Arsenault will create opportunities for conversation — though nobody is pressured to speak, Pirtle noted.

Racial Justice Rising, another local activism group, joined the collaboration to continue its mission of supporting the movement for racial justice in Franklin County, according to member Ruth Bowman.

“Part of that is to actively support emerging Black leadership,” Bowman said. “This (collaboration) was natural for us.”

Bowman said the program is made possible by grants from the Gill, Amherst and Ashfield cultural councils.

“We’re all in this together. … We’re all about the same thing, which is moving this agenda of racial justice forward,” she said.

Bowman said it’s “imperative” that people in Franklin County — and all over the world — look at how they, as individuals and as a community, can be anti-racist in the way they live, work and collaborate.

“We have to learn how to do this work of anti-racism,” Bowman said. “This is one piece of this very big agenda.”

Interested participants should email sarahpirtle@gmail.com by Sunday night. A Zoom link will be emailed in advance of the meeting on Monday.

Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 263. Twitter: @MaryEByrne

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