Advocacy and Accompaniment of Lasting Peace

A lot of people in our class have blogged about our couple days of focusing on gang violence in the local area. I believe that the visit to the Salinas Valley State Prison plus our talks with Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin and those about Ceasefire brought out a lot of emotions and opinions about our whole criminal justice system and gangs in our society.

First of all, for me these all were eye-opening experiences. I grew up in a place where gang violence did not exist and therefore my exposure to the culture of gangs was limited to television and media. I did not consider myself as someone oblivious to the existence to such violence, but seeing the actors involved in such things struck a certain cord.

Julie Reynolds was ever so informative while talking about her work as a journalist, and her knowledge in general about gang violence in Salinas was impressive. She is the type of person I want to aspire to be like. Her work as a journalist/activist is centered on the human condition of individuals involved in gang violence. During our interactions with her, I was reminded vividly of our earlier Skype session with Father Cedric Prakash. In speaking about peacebuilding, he stated the importance of knowing the facts, but also that knowing the facts is not enough. This is where advocacy and accompaniment come in. Julie embodies all of this. As a journalist she has shown her skills at finding out the facts. And in addition she has taken a stance and personally been at the sides of those, such as Willie Stokes, who are making a positive change. It is people like Julie who are the agents for fostering lasting peace.