Migration, homelessness focus of Racial Justice Rising’s first in-person program since pandemic’s start

  • Gloria Matlock, seen at right at a talk at the Turners Falls library in June, is an organizer with Racial Justice Rising, which is holding its first in-person event since 2020. STAFF FILE PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

Staff Writer
Published: 9/26/2022 9:48:31 PM
Modified: 9/26/2022 9:47:43 PM

GREENFIELD — Not long after the Florida governor’s operation to fly about 50 Venezuelan migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard first captured media attention this month, migration will be among the topics taking center stage in an October talk in Greenfield.

Furthermore, the program, titled “Where is the Kindness? Homelessness, Migration and Immigration,” will mark Racial Justice Rising’s first in-person event since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The storytelling and singing event will be held Saturday, Oct. 15, at 2 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church, at 25 Church St. It is offered in partnership with Twice As Smart, a program that assists children with educational endeavors.

“We want to continue to elevate the consciousness of our community by bringing programs like this to the forefront,” organizer Gloria Matlock said.

Racial Justice Rising is now 13 years old. The group arose from a few people writing an apology for slavery, and has become a volunteer-driven effort to spread its anti-racism, pro-reparations message, and hold educational workshops on recognizing and fighting discrimination.

On Oct. 15, Matlock plans to share stories of her own family’s migration and recount tales of the Great Migration, a movement of Black people from the southern United States dating from about 1910 to 1979 to avoid violent acts of racism and to look for economic opportunities in the North. She will also speak about her experience suffering from homelessness.

Matlock will also prompt people in the audience to reflect on their own family’s migration stories, and invite people to tell their family histories.

Additionally, the children involved in Twice As Smart will sing songs about the event’s themes. While most songs will be in English, they will also perform songs in Latin, plus one song originating from Ethiopia.

The theme of migration can mean different things in personal experiences, Matlock said. She explained that foster children experience migration on a smaller scale, being taken away from their homes and moved around.

Homelessness is another issue people are invited to speak about.

“One of our big issues in Greenfield has been homelessness,” Matlock noted. “We need to find homes for our guests.”

Matlock is excited for the musical element of the event.

“When you sing, you pray twice,” she said. She pointed to the lyrics of many of the songs as being moving for her and the work the organization does. “Music within itself holds a lot of power.”

The event will be the first in-person event that Racial Justice Rising has hosted since the pandemic began. Other events Racial Justice Rising has hosted in the past include “Reparations Teach-In,” “Stop Asian Hate: China is Not Our Enemy,” “A Conversation About Racism: Staying Curious, Moving Forward and Being Part of the Solution” and many more.

“It doesn’t hurt to be reminded of the civility and responsibility that we should have toward our guests who are seeking the same freedoms as we and our ancestors once did,” Matlock said.

Bella Levavi can be reached at 413-930-4579 or blevavi@recorder.com.


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