Moving Towards More Just Communities on MLK Day

Posted by on Jan 15, 2018 | Comments Off on Moving Towards More Just Communities on MLK Day

Moving Towards More Just Communities on MLK Day

Today, we celebrate one of our nations most influential social change agents, Martin Luther King Jr. A pioneer in the field of human rights, Rev. King, as well as many other activist such as Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hammer, and Malcolm X, fought to end legalized segregation in the United States. On July 2nd, 1964, the cry of the civil rights movement was finally answered when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law ending the legalized practice of segregation. However, even though segregation was legally outlawed, the social and infrastructural components that upheld the system had yet to dissolve. In fact, many of these racists systems and unspoken practices of social hierarchy still exist today.

The work of the Charlottesville Food Justice Network (CFJN) has focused on understanding healthy inequalities that exist as a result of unfair access to healthy nutritious foods across race and class.  Last year, we teamed up with the University of Virginia Office for Sustainability to host a powerful activist in the food justice movement, Bryant Terry. CFJN’s meeting with Bryant Terry, motivated us to listen to the harsh truths about our food system, one in which we previously saw as abundant in sustainable practices and environmentally mindful. We stretched ourselves to really question what Food Justice means in our community and leaned into truly discovering best practices to promote justice. What we found can be accessed in the White Paper on Building a Healthy and Just Local Food System. But on a basic level, CFJN believes that food justice is the practice of considering food as a basic human right. When food justice is established we are assured that the safe and fair production, the equitable and responsible distribution, and the independent and informed preparation of fresh, nutritious, culturally appropriate food exists for all our citizens no matter race/ethnicity, class, age, nationality, gender, or zip code.

For City Schoolyard Garden, we work with our youth, many of whom are impacted by an unjust food system, to understand how their lives are influenced by unfair access. We uplift their perspectives and voice through activities that allow them to articulate what food justice means to them, such as in the photo story project with the garden aides. While there is a lot of work left to be done to move the needle on food access in our local community, one thing is certain — the most powerful tools we have to lead sustainable change is truth and collaboration. We must not be afraid of the truth, no matter how ugly it may look and sound. And collaboration across race and class has and always will be an imperative for building a thriving just society for all.