Year in Review 2011- Part Two

PART TWO As 2011 draws to a close, we look back in a two-part series at some of the movements, organizations, and moments that made up the year. Occupy Oakland General Strike Okay Okay, you may think we have #occupy on here twice but the Oakland General Strike deserves recognition of it's own. November 2nd, 2011 is not a date many of us at the Ella Baker Center will forget any time soon. A full day of General Strike action called by Occupy Oakland demonstrated the real power of people standing for change. We were honored to a part of it. That day the eyes of the world were on Oakland and Oakland showed up in historic ways Preston Youth Prison Closes This June in a victory for justice in California, (and our Books Not Bars campaign), Preston Youth Prison closed its doors. The oldest and most remote of the former youth prisons, Preston was the site of lost lives and too much abuse for too long. The Ella Baker Center and our allies worked hard to close the prison and keep it closed in the face of opposition. In 2012, we hope to close more! Youth Radio Wins a Peabody Award Youth Radio is one of those organizations that you hear about over and over again. Whether it’s their award-winning programming or inspiring youth leadership work, chances are you have heard of Youth Radio. This year, Youth Radio was celebrated  with the prestigious journalism award The George Foster Peabody Award for their youth-developed piece on Human Trafficking. We salute Youth Radio, not just for this ground-breaking piece, but for the work they do every day to develop the voices and leadership of young people. United Roots presses on. So many powerful organizations have felt the strain of the economic recession and were forced to shut it doors and leave many shut out of much needed resources/services. Not once but twice. United Roots, based in Oakland, was close to shutting its own doors in 2011. But with the creative vision of it’s leadership, strategic partnerships, and support of community at critical junctures throughout the year, this groundbreaking media arts center was able to keep its doors open and support it’s important work into 2012. This year, United Roots programs and projects reached far and wide. They include  a graphic design apprenticeship, to a youth video production team, Urban Peace Movement Block Ambassadors, the Sister Circle, Urban Healing Theater Tour, Community Rejuvenation Project Muralist Collective, City Slicker Farms backyard garden program and more. Check out this video report created by United Roots youth reporter Ashanti Jacobs, with video clips from youth video producer Luis Montoya, and music by youth musician Mansa Evans. It’s critically important to support this resilient group and the important work they do. Consider supporting them now. Brenda Grisham and the Christopher Lavell Jones Foundation. Early this year you may have heard about the tragic killing of Christopher LaVell Jones set to graduate from East Oakland School of the Arts and study music at Cal State East Bay. The talented 17-year-old was shot outside his house, in front of his mother and two sisters. Christopher, known by family and friends as Chris, was a self-taught musician who could play numerous instruments simply by ear, including the piano, drums and organ.  As an arranger, he help compose a full length album called , “Nothing But PraZE,”. Out of this horrible tragedy, his mother, Brenda Grisham, decided to keep Chris’s spirit of music and education alive. Brenda founded the Christopher LaVell Jones Foundation, which will present a scholarship to one senior annually at the East Oakland School of the Arts. In the spring of 2011 the foundation awarded it's first scholarship to  Angelica Wilcher. Angelica is using that $1,000 scholarship at California State University East Bay where she is currently attending.  We honor the life of Christopher Jones, the courage of his mother Brenda Grisham, the mission of the Christopher Lavell Jones Foundation and finally the unwavering commitment to hope and opportunity.

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