Hosted by the Permanent Commission on the Status of Racial, Indigenous, and Tribal Populations
Don’t miss this evening’s Place Justice film screening, followed by a lively conversation with filmmakers, educators, and young changemakers.
Tuesday, May 23, 2023 at 5:00 pm ET online
An intimate portrayal of Black youth organizing on the west side of Chicago, Change the Name follows a group of 5th graders from Village Leadership Academy as they embark on a campaign to rename Stephen A. Douglas Park after freedom fighters Anna and Frederick Douglass. Over the course of the three-year grassroots campaign the students tackle bureaucratic Chicago Park District systems, underestimations of their capacity to make change as well as a pandemic and a global racial uprising.
Organizers behind Change the Name will be in conversation with counterparts from Brookline, Massachusetts involved in the effort to remove the name of an enslaver (Edward Devotion, 1688-1744) in 2018. At the end of a year-long selection process, Town Meeting voted to rename the school after Florida Ruffin Ridley, an African American civil rights leader who had lived in Brookline with her family.
Cai Thomas is a documentary filmmaker and cinematographer telling verite stories at the intersection of location, self-determination and identity about Black youth and elders. She grew up in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood and is deeply interested in stories rooted in place. Cai is a member of the NeXt Doc Collective.
Bianca Jones is an educator, community organizer, facilitator, and impact producer whose pedagogy develops historical understanding, structural analysis, and perspective taking through critical dialogue and creative projects to promote increased social awareness, a love of intellectual growth, and personal + political transformation for youth and adults.
Zari Young is a young activist who also loves to travel. She and her family live on the west side of Chicago, IL in a predominantly Black community called Garfield Park. She attends Holy Trinity High School, where she will graduate in 2024. Zari graduated from a private social justice elementary school called Village Leadership Academy. In 6th grade, she participated in the grass-roots campaign Change The Name.
Dr. Barbara Brown is founder and chair of Hidden Brookline, which aims to build public understanding of the history of slavery and of freedom in Brookline, Massachusetts. Hidden Brookline serves under the Town’s Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Community Relations.
Liv Klawiter is an 8th grader at Florida Ruffin Ridley School in Brookline, Massachusetts. As a 4th grader, she became involved in the “Bee-lievers,” the group committed to changing her school’s name, and by 5th grade, she was speaking at public meetings to advocate for Florida Ruffin Ridley to be the name of her school.
Emeri Shende-Ruiz is an 11th-grader at Brookline High School, MA. He was a member of the student-led Name Change Committee that worked to officially change the name of the school to Florida Ruffin Ridley. He also worked to achieve economic justice during his time with the Fair Share Amendment Campaign, advocating for a higher graduated income tax on the extremely wealthy.
PLACE JUSTICE EVENT SERIES
This is the sixth event in the Place Justice Event Series. The series features free, virtual and in-person panel discussions and film screenings to engage the public in considering the often complex and contentious issues related to offensive place names and other problematic commemorative practices in the place now known as Maine. Read more about The Permanent Commission’s Place Justice Initiative here.