The Corps Network Responds to August 12 Events in Charlottesville

On March 25, 1965, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and a crowd of 25,000 marched from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in support of voting rights for African-Americans.

At the end of the march, King delivered what has since become known as the "How Long, Not Long" speech. Defiant at times, his remarks referenced the violence that beset the Civil Rights movement. He encouraged those gathered to keep up the struggle; the movement could not be dissuaded after coming so far.

How long? Not long, because no lie can live forever.

How long? Not long, you shall reap what you sow.

How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

The recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia demonstrate that the struggle continues and reinforces that we cannot shy away from discussing the difficult issues that underlie this unfortunate incident, as well as so many other acts of racially-motivated violence.

The Corps Network recently introduced the “Moving Forward Initiative,” which focuses on addressing institutional and systemic racism as it relates to our Corps and the conservation workforce. Institutional racism was the focus of our recent workshop with The People’s Institute: an organization that teaches “what racism is, where it comes from, how it functions, why it persists and how it can be undone.”  What happened in Charlottesville shows us why understanding these concepts is so critical.

MENTOR, a national partner of The Corps Network, has published a guide, “Supporting Young People in the Wake of Violence and Trauma.” We suggest that Corps read and use this guide as we look for ways to talk to our Corpsmembers about recent events. We encourage all our Corps to have these conversations not only with your Corpsmembers, but also with your friends, family and partners. Know that we at The Corps Network are here to help.

When speaking to the US Conference of Mayors on August 11, 2017, President and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation La June Montgomery Tabron made this eloquent statement: “we do know that, when people come together, this work addressing structural racism, building equity in communities and shaping one’s humanity can be accomplished …We must succeed.”  

We will add to this by saying that this work by our Corps and The Corps Network must be done by joining with our partners and with our communities as we look to move forward.

As the Reverend Dr. King, Jr said, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”