This issue of AMPLIFY marks the beginning of our 47th year of mobilizing people and resources to meet community need in Northern Virginia. As an organization, and as a society, we have come a long way during that span of time and have “evolved” in many respects. In some respects, however, there is much more work ahead of us.
Reflecting on the year Volunteer Fairfax was founded – 1974 – I can recall feelings of hope and exhilaration as I prepared to graduate from my high school in the suburbs of Boston and begin my life as an adult. Remembering six years earlier, as I witnessed the upswell of the Civil Rights movement and the violent loss of its iconic leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I felt hopeful that America was ready to embrace the transformative events of the late 60’s by closing the racial divide in our communities.
But were we ready? In 1974, in places like Boston and Richmond and neighboring Prince Georges County, municipalities rushed to comply with court-ordered desegregation in public schools. Popularly known as “busing”, or more accurately, “forced busing”, black students were uprooted from their neighborhood schools and bused to white suburban schools to racially integrate them. There are few more striking examples in history where an issue that united both sides in their opposition to it served to draw them further apart at the same time.
Nearly two generations later, we have experienced acts of violence against people of color that have re-awakened the past and spurred an awakening of activism that has re-focused attention on racial justice. This month, Volunteer Fairfax will lead discussions on racial equity with its “Build Back-Dream Forward” Community Conversations, which have been made possible by a grant from the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia. More information can be found here. The conversations, featuring presentations by thought leaders in the field of racial equity, are intended to be a call to action.
As we enter another year of community service, our call to action to you is this; to do deliberate acts and speak actionable words that will prepare our community, your family, and yourself to embrace true justice and equality for those who are marginalized and disadvantaged.
This time, we must be ready, and we must make this more than a flash in the pan.
ARE YOU READY?
CEO, Volunteer Fairfax