ACTIVISM IS LOVE—The graduating class, seated, from left:  Natalee Wilmer, Clara Bell, Makeda Drew, Monye Holiday and Janel Carter. Standing, from left: Kaceem Barnett, Malik Petite, Matthew Holiday, Frederick Johnson and Malik Barber. (Photos by J. L. Martello)

ACTIVISM IS LOVE—The graduating class, seated, from left: Natalee Wilmer, Clara Bell, Makeda Drew, Monye Holiday and Janel Carter. Standing, from left: Kaceem Barnett, Malik Petite, Matthew Holiday, Frederick Johnson and Malik Barber. (Photos by J. L. Martello)

The Alliance for Police Accountability is dedicated to improving community and police relations through advocacy, education and policy. It’s Activism Is Love program engages young people in community organizing and leadership development.

The program provides the opportunity to discover the ways to become social agents of change through active learning and getting involved in the political structure in our city and local region.

Recently, 10 young women and men were celebrated for their commitment to the APA Activism is Love Program, and graduated from the program. The graduation ceremony was held on July 30 at Repair the World.

APA President Khalif Ali said, “I am proud of the youth and the work they’ve done. Congratulations.”

The graduates were Clara Ball, Malik Barber, Kaceem Barnett, Janel Carter, Makeda Drew, Matthew Holiday, Monye Holiday, Frederick Johnson, Malik Petite, and Natalee Wilmer.
Family and friends gathered to celebrate the new leadership in the community.

Dinner and networking took place at the beginning of the event. The graduation ceremony started at 6 p.m. with APA Founder and CEO Brandi Fisher giving the opening speech, followed by  Ali’s heart felt message to the youth. LaKeisha Wolf introduced artist Jacquea Mae. There was a performance by Mae, where she recited a poem entitled “Amazingness” and concluded her performance with song. Program Director Amber Owens did the introduction of the program.

“Each and every one of the graduates have something unique to give this world. This is just the beginning, the world is theirs,” Mae said.

The Activism is Love graduates displayed a special presentation where each of them had an opportunity to speak on their experiences, projects, events, etc., throughout the course of the 13 weeks within the program.

BRANDI FISHER congratulating the program participants.

BRANDI FISHER congratulating the program participants.

Throughout the program the graduates went through a series of learning and events, such as: Self Evaluations, S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Goals, Web Planning, Structure Planning, Organizing, Planning & Mobilizing, Great Debate, Chicago Soul Youth Training, Open Mic Night Fundraising Event, Visit from Jacque Fielder, Creating a Campaign, Our Pledge, Awareness, Council Visit, Mayor’s Visit, developed a website, Guns Down Peace Now, and much more.

The Open Mic Night event raised $137, while Activism is Love also raised $260 in one month through its Go Fund Me page to support/fund the goals the participants wanted to attain.

“Throughout the 13 weeks these 10 individuals personally created a campaign, brought awareness around that campaign, and had an amazing event. I’m beyond proud of them for the work that they did,”  Owens said.

All of the graduates made a pledge to end violence. The pledge reads as follows: “I pledge to put an end to violence. I pledge to solve any and all of my problems in a mature way. I pledge be a positive force in my community. I will be the change that the world so desperately needs. I vow to break any silence in order to do what is right. I pledge to put guns down because I stand for peace now.”

The graduates received certificates of completion from the APA staff.

The Activism is Love program teaches young people how to organize and mobilize around the community and police issues with the goal of preparing young people for leadership in the launching of their campaign. Participants have the opportunity to work with officials and conduct their own media interviews on their grassroots organizing work.

APA ensures the voices of the people are heard and that the community is included in the making of decisions that affect them. Alliance for Police Accountability would like to thank our diverse supporters and partners for making the pilot of this program a success.

“Yes, the program is over, and the graduation ceremony has passed but the fight for justice is forever,” Fisher said.

Activism is Love is supported by a grant from Heinz Endowments.

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