Sunday, December 04, 2005
Peace and Justice Awards Night a Big Success
The Washington Peace Center held its first annual Peace and Justice Awards Night on Saturday December 3rd, to honor the myriad of activists in the region who have worked tirelessly all year for the causes of peace and justice. The event drew over two hundred people from many corners of our community. Approximately 65 awards were given to activist leaders, student leaders, and a few institutions. The event took place at the Foundry Methodist Church at 16th and P Streets, N.W. in Washington, D.C.
One award went to Catalina Talero who has been teaching violence avoidance to some "hard core" youth in the Latino Community of Northwest Washington, D.C. Catalina's success in reducing violence in DC earned her a Washington Peace Center Award for her nonviolence teaching. She now teaches at the Cesar Chavez Public Charter School, which also received an award for being the most supportive school faculty to the Washington Peace Center.
Also receiving an award was Jennifer Harbury, a Harvard-educated attorney who has worked tirelessly to expose torture and its use by our government. What an honor it was for the Washington Peace Center to have Jennifer Harbury at the first annual peace and justice awards.
Another awardee tonight was Nikolas Schiller, who got the Everywhere Man award. Nik is literally all over the city in his quest and zeal to be doing something for peace and justice. He was especially instrumental this year in his assistance to Operation Ceasefire, which was also recognized as an important event of the year. Adam Eidinger, the founder of OpCeasefire received an award for his work to make an amazing concert happen on the mall in September.
The two keynote speakers this year were Amy Goodman of "Democracy Now" and Damu Smith, founder of Black Voices for Peace. Damu got the "Lifetime Commitment to Peace and Justice" Award. It was stated tonight that Damu started his activist career when he was seventeen years old. His lifetime work has included fighting environmental racism in the 80s, fighting for the freedom of the Wilmington 10 in the 70s, working for Greenpeace in the 90s, and being a strong voice for peace and against the war in Iraq since the war started.
Amy Goodman was her usual captivating self, but never more captivating than when she sat on the floor with her own video camera capturing the speech of Damu on tape.
The Washington Peace Center was very lucky to have both Amy and Damu, thanks to the hard work of Mkwasi Mcharo, the new WPC co-coordinator.
The house was rocked with entertainment from the DC Guerilla Poetry Insurgency, known as "the guerillas".
Also top billing was the Rhythm Workers Union.
The RWU included a guest appearance from Daniela and the Willets (above), a youthful trio who did percussion and dancing, and showed everyone in the room the reason why they are fighting for peace and justice.
After a great time of speeches and entertainment, the time to give the awards came. This was definitely the low point of the evening, due to lack of coordination and preparation. Many of the awardees expected their name to be called, and then to go up and receive an award. Alas, it was not to be. It was done in groups, designated by colors -- a reminder of the Homeland Security Administration's attempts to color-code national security. Order broke down into chaos when one awardee took the mike to sing something out of tune. All the awardees were given certificates off on the side with as little fanfare as possible.
Infoshop was given the award for best activist bookstore.
With the first annual Washington Peace Center Awards Night having such great keynote speakers, and with so many of the awardees truly deserving recognition of their work for peace and justice, this bodes well for the future of this as an annual event. It is sure to be one that the entire activist community looks forward to every year to see who among us will be recognized for their contributions to peace and justice.
Article and photos by (c)2005 shia, all rights reserved. For more information call the Washington Peace Center at 202-234-2000.
member of the RWU
and resident of 3650 Warder St.