Today, we traveled down to Baltimore, where we were joined by youth from Communities United to interact and engage with them. Together, we participate in multiple sessions and tours around Baltimore. Interacting with other youth, who are working towards creating change regarding equality and race in Baltimore, the kids saw first hand how much of an impact one group can make if they work together towards a common goal. The day, filled with interesting dialogue and new perspectives, sparked great friendships among the participants of Kids4Peace and those of Communities United. Our first presentation today was a Q&A with a local radio show host who shared with us his fascinating and eventful life’s background. Growing up in a segregated Baltimore during the Civil Rights Movements, and a child of Holocaust survivors, Marc Steiner explained how knowing and seeing oppression in society has shaped him into the person he is today and the views he believes in. He saw segregation first hand throughout his childhood and adult years, and heard about the catastrophe and genocide of the Holocaust. Both events taught him about the harm and danger that can ensue from hatred, racism, and segregation and he made it part of his life’s mission to ensure that segregation and hatred are not tolerated anywhere. He was the youngest white male to get arrested in Baltimore for participating in a sit-in during the Civil Rights Movement, at age 16, and used his story to show our youth just how important the work of young people is and how impactful it can be. A main theme of the day was learning about separation among people who differ from each other, and how important it is to bridge that divide. Our youth were taught about the importance of learning about each other’s histories and using that knowledge to better the world. The key to doing so is communication, and Marc used one significant word to define communication: listening. “Listening allows you to hear a person’s reality which shows that person’s truth, and there is a truth on every side of the story; a truth that must be respected.” We spent the afternoon exploring different parts of the city and seeing its many different realities. Baltimore is a complex city made up of some areas that are developed, some that are becoming more developed, and some that have been forgotten. The tour included City Hall, Baltimore’s Real News Media Outlet, China Town, and the Holocaust Memorial. Each stop added more to the theme that Marc formed earlier in the day, and each stop gave the kids more perspective on issues such as immigration, racism, income inequality, and hatred among people. The tour of city hall gave the youth some inspiration, hearing about how the hall serves as a place where people can stand up and make a claim for what they believe in.
“Everyday people can fight to make the changes that they want to see at city hall, and they can speak their mind regardless of their age or background.” – Katie, Christian, Seattle
The Real News Media Outlet provided the youth with a realistic idea of what a career in journalism and media looks like, and taught them how important it is to share unbiased facts and to be committed to the truth.
“It was inspiring to hear how they remained independently funded through members of the Baltimore community and not corporations, in order to report what they wanted to report from the point of view of the people of Baltimore” – Sofia, Jewish, Vermont
A member of the group was even given the chance to share her own story on camera, and everyone was able to watch how videos are clipped together and edited at the news outlet.
It was empowering to share my story on a real platform and it was also a very cool experience, and something I would never had the opportunity to do elsewhere” – Lior, Jewish, Jerusalem
We finished off the day with a panel comprised of Baltimore residents who shared their own stories and explained the different tools they have used to fight for change in Baltimore. One popular tool is visual art and performance as a means for organizing movements. The youth were taught about cantastoria performances, and given the time to prepare and perform a cantastoria related to an issue that they felt passionate about. This workshop added to the message that other workshops have touched upon, of making your voices heard through public performance and narratives.