Buffalo Anti-Racism Coalition will be celebrating Black August by launching a Freedom School on August 29 at 3pm. The event is open to the public and will take place at Burning Books.
BARC and other organizations like Buffalo Save the Kids, New York Peace Center, and Burning Books strive to act as a conduit to the community by providing educational presentations and programs, which is something the city of Buffalo has been missing for some time.
Luana Dejesus, founder of BARC created the coalition in hopes of making that change for the Buffalo community.
The coalition has works hard to educate the community through presentations such as “School to Prison Pipeline,” discussions on events like the Kent State Massacre, and film showings about Oscar Grant, an African-American man who was fatally shot by an officer in Oakland, California in 2009.
Black August originated in the California penal system in the early 1970’s to honor fallen Freedom fighters such as Jonathan Jackson, Khatari Gaulden, and many more.
In addition to honoring those who have fallen, it is an annual remembrance in North American history of when the first slave ship had arrived in Jamestown on August 16th, 1619.
Black August is a month during which the black community can speculate its current situation, and self-determining rights. It is a month to be recognized like Black History Month, and a time to embrace education, staying physical, and fasting.
Following the death of Trayvon Martin, Dejesus found that more groups wanted to continue meeting, but the city still had “very little grassroots power”. Dejesus began working closely with Morgan Jamie Dunbar, founder of Buffalo Save the Kids, in trying to unify all groups.
It wasn’t until after the death of Michael Brown when both east and west sides of Buffalo were able to come together. Dejesus explained “part of what comes from being so polarized, is that the different spaces become really charged”.
Dejesus has been in Buffalo for 20 years and claimed it is the most segregated town she has ever lived in.
BARC will host another Freedom School “Know Your Rights” event on September 5th.
The idea is to consistently showcase these types of events every month throughout the city. The objective is to encourage more involvement from the community to help the organization grow.
Dejesus has a bright future for BARC, looking forward to one day having a “neutral” space of its own where groups can show films and hold discussions without taking away from what the community already has.
She strongly believes in the potential for the Freedom School Program; it is something she wishes to see integrated into school programs from elementary to high school.
This may be the first step towards mending the city of Buffalo, and moving forward to providing our youth a better and brighter future.